Aid and stability in Pakistan: lessons from the 2005 earthquake response

Disasters. 2010 Oct:34 Suppl 3:S406-26. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7717.2010.01209.x.


United States foreign assistance to Pakistan has always been driven by security considerations. By 2010, US counter-terrorism and stabilisation objectives resulted in Pakistan becoming the second largest recipient of US foreign aid globally. Given the policy impact of the assumption that aid promotes US security objectives in Pakistan, there is surprisingly little analysis or evidence of its effectiveness in this regard. This paper helps to address this gap by first reviewing the history and assumptions underpinning current US aid and stabilisation policies. It then uses field research on the 2005 earthquake relief efforts in northern Pakistan to assess the impact of the 'War on Terror' on the humanitarian response. In particular, it examines the assumption of influential US policymakers that humanitarian aid following the earthquake was an effective way to promote US security objectives by 'winning hearts and minds'-an assumption that has been used to justify all subsequent major US foreign aid commitments to Pakistan.

MeSH terms

  • Altruism*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Disaster Planning / methods
  • Disaster Planning / organization & administration*
  • Disasters*
  • Earthquakes*
  • Humans
  • Interinstitutional Relations
  • International Cooperation*
  • Islam
  • Pakistan
  • Public Policy
  • Relief Work / organization & administration*
  • Terrorism / prevention & control
  • United Nations
  • United States