Humanitarian Aid to Pakistan Coming Through … The Defense Department
There are something like 900,000 Pakistanis internally displaced because of the ongoing fighting between the Taliban and the Pakistani military, according to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the number is likely to increase by hundreds of thousands more. The United States, however, stands ready to provide aid. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman explains what’s on offer:
And that’s well and good. The question, though, is when the Defense Department isn’t going to retain the exclusive capability to provide this aid.
Secretaries Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bob Gates have both talked about bolstering the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s capacity to take on the provision of non-military assistance. I hesitate to criticize, since we’re talking about the well-being of roughly a million people — a concern that eclipses bureaucratic box-checking — but there’s always going to be some important priority that comes before interagency reform. And in this case, the State Department has a more established presence in the country than the Defense Department does.