Speier hesistant about Pakistan aid

April 10, 2009 6:59:43 PM PDT
Congresswoman Jackie Speier says money for Pakistan should have strings attached. The San Mateo representative would like to see conditions placed on the $1.5 billion a year the president wants to spend to help Pakistan's people.

SIGN-UP: Get breaking news sent to you

Congresswoman Speier was reacting to video out of Pakistan this week that she called 'horrendous.' It shows a young woman being publicly flogged.

A teenage girl was held down and whipped 30 times because the Taliban who control her village say she was with a man who wasn't her husband.

A Taliban spokesman called the punishment was lenient -- she could've been stoned to death.

Pakistan's government has been negotiating with Islamic extremists in the Swat Valley to end a Taliban rebellion.

"We have to be very careful not to place ourselves in position where we say it's acceptable," said San Mateo Congresswoman Jackie Speier.

Speier says the $1.5 billion a year the president wants to spend on civilian projects in Pakistan should come with conditions that gross human rights violations won't be tolerated.

"You know we stopped apartheid in South Africa because we created a divestment process and policy," said Speier.

But putting conditions on Pakistanis in the Swat Valley is a fool's errand, says a man who's been there, former CIA Field Officer Robert Baer.

"When women menstruate in that part of the world they lock them up for four or five days and put food under the door, they're not allowed out. Its cultural that goes back thousands of years that predates Islam," said Baer.

For the U.S. to expect that it can change the way women are treated in this part of the world is non-sense says Baer.

"I mean I would like to see them change their behavior, and I'm sure the women in those parts of the world too. But the problem is their chattel, how are you going to turn back four thousand years of history," said

At an Islamic mosque in San Jose, a young Pakistani American thinks he has part of the answer.

Irfan Rydhan is publicity director for Illume Magazine, which is currently running a piece on Greg Mortenson, a mountain climber turned humanitarian philanthropist, whose responsible for building dozens of schools and educating 14,000 Pakistani and Afghan girls.

"And that was just one person with not billions of dollars behind him but eventually he got the job done. But it takes a lot of time effort and patience," said Ryhan.

"You know fine, you can put in a couple or orphanages, local NGO's are very good some of the international NGO's are very good, but it's just a drop in the bucket," said Baer.

The problems in Pakistan are enormous. The government control of the country is fragile, Taliban control is spreading. Pakistan has nuclear weapons, and time and patience on all sides is at a premium.

       Today's latest headlines | ABC7 News on your phone
Follow us on Twitter | Fan us on Facebook | Get our free widget


Load Comments