A parliamentary committee has called for Britain to cut foreign aid payments to Pakistan unless there is “clear evidence” it is helping reduce Islamist extremism in the country.
The Commons International Development Committee said that there was little evidence massive UK aid payments to Pakistan were making difference, adding the country had “failed to adequately mobilise the substantial resources of the country to help its poor”.
Pakistan is set to receive £1.17 billion in aid from the UK between 2011 and 2015, making it one of the largest recipients of UK foreign aid. Annual contributions will increase from £215 million in 2010/11 to £405 million in 2014/15.
The government says that Pakistan has urgent economic, health and educational problems, with 60 million families living below the poverty line. It also says that Pakistan deserves UK support as it is a key strategic ally in the region.
The committee argues, however, that aid payments would not have to be so high if the country was not having to “confront” Islamist extremism.
The report said: “If this is the case, the budget can only be justified if there is clear evidence that Department for International Development (Dfid) support is effective in reducing the extremist threat.”
“If not, we recommend that Dfid consider reducing spending in Pakistan and increasing it in low income countries.”
Previous, the committee have also criticised Pakistan’s inability to fully collect taxes, and the tax-dodging habits of its senior political leadership.
The report comes as Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif makes a five-day visit to Britain. Mr Sharif will meet David Cameron and hold a number of meetings with various cabinet ministers.
He will also be meeting various members of the Pakistani diaspora in the UK.