Even U.S. Aid Can't Help Pakistan's Tribal Areas

Sen. John Kerry says Taliban turf too violent now to receive U.S. investment.

ByABC News
March 1, 2009, 12:47 PM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan<br>April 14, 2009 -- The U.S. Senator trying to push an annual $1.5 billion increase in aid to Pakistan acknowledges that right now, the tribal areas are too ungovernable and too violent to receive American investment.

"You've got to build the police and the security capacity and then you can follow in to assist the citizens," Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told ABC News Tuesday during a visit to Peshawar. "You can't yet spend the money there. It is too dangerous there."

That is an unusual admission as the United States tries to convince Pakistanis it is shifting from supporting the military to supporting law enforcement, civil society and development. That shift, Kerry admits, is long overdue and is necessary if both Pakistan and Afghanistan can be saved from two rising militancies.

"If you can begin to bring law enforcement to the task, then the majority of people who don't want to live under those insurgents or under the Taliban will dare to stand up," Kerry said during an interview in the historic Frontier Corps fort, perched at the top of Peshawar.

"But in the absence of that, if you have a total vacuum, people are scared and they'll go underground, and that's been what's happening in the past months while we've been more focused on Iraq."

Increasingly, the United States has linked success in the war in Afghanistan to providing alternative futures to impoverished and poorly governed populations on both sides of the porous Afghan-Pakistan border. Populations that include men like Khursheed of North Waziristan.

Khursheed has to feed his five children on $1.50 per day. He lives in the heart of the militancy in the tribal areas along the Afghan border. Sometimes, he goes to sleep hungry. Other times, he has enough money to feed his family rice. He has decided that he can't afford to raise his own children, so he is sending two of them to his brother-in-law.

"I don't see any future for them," he told ABC News recently, standing outside his mud home, holding the wheelbarrow that provides his livelihood.