Pakistan - International Development Committee Contents

8   Concerns

Flexibility to respond to political events.

103. The political situation in Pakistan where events change almost daily—since starting this inquiry there have been political demonstrations in Islamabad, a march in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and a warrant issued for the arrest of the then Prime Minister by the Supreme Court due to corruption charges—makes us very conscious of the need for DFID to maintain the flexibility to respond to significant change. The World Bank's Country Assistance Strategy found that a key lesson learnt from past programmes in Pakistan was that there needed to be enough flexibility in programmes to manage these political risks. The strategy also said that programmes needed to be realistic and not overambitious. Michael Green, who highlighted this report to us, was not confident that DFID's current programme for Pakistan was flexible enough and he was concerned it was over ambitious.[137]

104. The Secretary of State said she knew that DFID needed to "make sure that we can react to changing events and changing priorities".[138] Moazzam Malik argued that DFID's Pakistan programme was flexible:

    in the real world it is not possible to have a Plan A, which is the master plan, and a Plan B, and it is not the case that one falls and the other rises. It is about having a portfolio that spans ambitious change, and being ready to slow down things when they do not work, but equally to accelerate and scale up where things do work. It is by having that flexibility and working with those opportunities, but being robust about the results and the accountabilities and following our money, that we hope to achieve real change.[139]

105. We recommend that DFID ensures that its programmes have sufficient flexibility to respond to future political events especially following the elections due to be held in May this year.

Politicisation of programmes

106. Political parties in South Asia tend to be dynastic. For example, in Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari married into the Bhutto family dynasty which controls the Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP). Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto led the party until his execution in 1979. Then the PPP was led by his daughter, Benazir Bhutto—twice Prime Minister of Pakistan— until her assassination in 2007 when her husband, Mr Zardari, became co-chair of the PPP. Similarly the Sharif family, politically powerful industrialists from Punjab, have also played a central role in Pakistan's politics by leading the Pakistan Muslim League (N), the main opponent of the PPP. The eldest Sharif brother, Nawaz, has twice been Prime Minister of Pakistan until removed in the coup organised by General Pervez Musharraf in 1999. The younger Sharif brother, Shabaz, is currently Chief Minister of Punjab Province, a post he also held from 1997 to 1999 until deposed in the Musharraf coup.

107. Dr Matt Nelson said that the Punjab programme ran the risk of DFID "simply playing in the Sharif patronage pie."[140] Due to the use of teachers at local level during elections he said that "the large push for teacher recruitment will not be overlooked by the political calculations of the Sharifs in the context of any election".[141]

108. Similarly Dr Ahmad said:

    You have a good programme, the conditional cash transfer. Unfortunately it is called the Benazir Income Support Programme, and it suffers from [...] clientelism. It is [...] the mechanism—which is funded partly by DFID—to make friends and influence people. This is the re-election campaign of Mr Zardari, which is funded by DFID. Well done.[142]

109. The Secretary of State argued that:

    they are both examples of very important programmes in Pakistan that, in my opinion, in a good way have been identified by politicians—and this is a democracy, and therefore these are the people who will be taking decisions going forward—as being extremely valuable.[143]

110. We are concerned that DFID funding for the Benazir Income Support Programme and the Punjab Education programmes may lead some in Pakistan to believe that DFID is working unwittingly for selected Pakistan political parties, albeit these major programmes support different parties. In its response to this report, DFID should state how it will dispel such perceptions before Pakistan's forthcoming elections.

Gender and violence against women

111. During the inquiry we heard about the extent of violence against women and girls in Pakistan. The attack on fourteen year old school girl, Malala Yousufzai happened shortly before our visit and was raised when we met Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. The shooting of Malala, the attacks on girls' schools, honour killings, acid attacks and the killing of women immunisation workers in the last six months has galvanised public opinion.[144] This opportunity to gain momentum on women's rights in Pakistan should not be lost.

112. Members of the committee met parents, teachers and students at the Girls Higher Secondary School in Haripur in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The parents and teachers said the shooting of Malala Yousafzai had had a profound impact—forcing Pakistanis to face the issue of violent discrimination against women and girls and reinforcing their belief in the importance of education for girls. The students at the school put on a physical education and drama display in which two students acted out the story of discrimination against girls' education and the need for women to speak out for their rights. The committee also met women from NGOs and UN agencies while visiting Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including Dr Mariam Bibi, the inspirational Director of Kwendo Khor, a women's rights NGO in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas. Dr Bibi holds a doctorate from the University of York and was recently rewarded an honorary degree by the university in recognition of her promotion of women's and girls' rights. She explained that she and Kwendo Khor seek to influence men who are opinion formers, such as Imams. She patiently lobbied one over several months about the importance of women's inheritance rights and urged him to speak about this in the Mosque. Eventually he did, and he explained to Dr Bibi that it had taken time because first he wanted to change his will so that his wife would inherit his property. He said it would do no good to preach unless he practised what he preached.

113. We note that DFID states it puts women and girls "at the centre of everything UK aid does" in Pakistan and that it intends to do this by: supporting two million more girls into school; preventing 3,600 women dying in childbirth; helping 500,000 couples choose when and how many children they have; helping around 700,000 women access financial services such as micro-loans; and supporting women's rights in Pakistan including tackling domestic violence.[145] We were pleased to hear about DFID's support to: the Aawaz Strengthening Voice and Accountability Programme; the Gender Justice and Protection Programme; and efforts to tackle acid violence against women and girls, through funding for the international NGO Acid Survivors Trust International. We intend to carry out a detailed study of DFID's approach to tackling violence against women and girls globally through our current inquiry into this specific issue, and will publish our report on this subject in June 2013.

114. Oxfam recognises the work DFID in Pakistan has been doing on women's health and education as well as the cash transfers aimed at women through the Benazir Income Support Programme, but believes that DFID could do more. It recommends that DFID should step up support for women and women's rights advocates to assert rights to basic services, including security and justice as well as improved state governance and responsiveness. Oxfam would also like donors to encourage the Pakistan Government to fulfil more effectively its obligations outlined by the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979), the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (1994) and the Millennium Development Goals.[146]

115. It is essential that DFID makes the position of women and girls central to its work and that gender analysis and action is at the core of its Pakistan programme. As noted in our 2012 report on development in Afghanistan, the position of women is a key development indicator. We recommend that DFID establish a gender advisory group made up of Pakistani women . We believe it should include women like Mariam Bibi. The group would advise on the impact of development work on women and explore where DFID could do more. We will continue to monitor the progress of women's role and inclusion in development in Pakistan.

The Pakistan government and its progress on reform

116. We are concerned that the Government of Pakistan has not sufficiently bought into DFID programmes which tend to be supply-driven by the UK. DFID claims that the scaling up of the programmes is reliant on key reforms by the Pakistan Government. The Secretary of State told us that these reforms include:

  The Pakistan Government itself investing in social-sector spending

  Increasing tax revenue and better public finance management with transparency and accountability to prevent corruption

  Human rights and democracy—not just passing legislation but also implementing it.[147]

117. The Secretary of State said that progress was measurable through 'metrics' on the number of children in schools, health and proportion of tax raised in relation to GDP, Pakistan's ranking on corruption and human rights indices. She believed the biggest test was whether Pakistan achieved free and fair elections this year.[148] In response to questions about whether conditions should be set for the increase in development spending in Pakistan, the Secretary of State said:

    My sense is that you would always need to be careful that it was not a blunt tool. Therefore it is not the approach that the UK Government has taken in relation to our aid. Therefore we have invested in where we think there is the ability to make progress, where it represents good value for money and alongside that, yes, we have been clear on partnership principles that we want to have in place with governments.[149]

We also asked if there was no progress with the new Government after the election on any of the key matters whether that would be a deal breaker and cause DFID to reconsider its involvement in Pakistan. The Secretary of State told us:

    I think donors will expect and hope to see some fast progress in the first 100 days of a new Pakistani Government. It will need to set out its stall about what it wants to achieve in a really clear-cut way. That is not just important to donor countries that are investing in programmes within Pakistan; it is important to the international financial institutions that Pakistan deals with, too.[150]

118. Michael Green said of conditionality:

    It can be seen as being this great solution, but a lot of conditionality is meaningless. It is things that do not really matter, or it is not measurable, or—as we have found in some other countries, actually—it is very hard to respond to if a condition is broken. If we are talking about conditionality, we have to be more granular. What form will that conditionality take? Is it measurable, is it implementable and can we act on that basis? If that conditionality is triggered, what is the response? Is it just turning off the tap or is it switching to something else and having a plan B scenario?[151]

In his Pakistan governance analysis for DFID, James Fennell observed that that while Pakistan had a good record of enacting legislation, implementation was the problem. .

    It becomes discretionary, because it falls into the military/bureaucratic power bloc. Some they like; some they do not. Some they implement; some they do not.[152]

Mr Fennell suggested support be conditional on the implementation of legislation as opposed to just the enactment.[153]

119. If the political system in Pakistan continues to be characterised by corruption, insufficient tax collection, poor human rights and a failure to protect minorities, the effectiveness of donor supported programmes will always be undermined. We recommend that:

  the UK use its influence with the IMF to ensure that any additional loans are contingent upon prior commitments and action by the Government of Pakistan to meet clear conditions and targets;

  the UK Government communicate clearly to the Pakistan authorities the conditions under which UK development assistance will either increase or be reduced;

  DFID only increase official development assistance expenditure to the planned £464 million per annum if there is clear evidence that the newly elected Pakistan administration will increase tax revenues in general and income tax, in particular, and if it subsequently succeeds in increasing the amount of tax taken; and

  If the Pakistan Government is unwilling to take action to increase its revenues and improve services for its people, it cannot expect the British people to do so in the long run. We cannot expect the citizens of the UK to pay taxes to improve education and health in Pakistan if the Pakistan elite is not paying income tax.

137   Q38 Back

138   Q111 Back

139   Q135 Back

140   Q66 Back

141   Q66 Back

142   Q101 Back

143   Q136 Back

144   Targeted by militants, Pakistan's women push back Independent 19 March 2013 Back

145   Summary of DFID's work in Pakistan 2011-2015 June 2012 Back

146   Ev w33 Back

147   Q111 Back

148   Q112-113 Back

149   Q122 Back

150   Q128 Back

151   Q42 Back

152   Q42 Back

153   Q42 Back

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Prepared 4 April 2013