Zahrah Nasir The news that a $46 million American aid programme for the tribal regions of Pakistan has failed, miserably, since being launched with much fanfare two years ago comes as no surprise as, word on the ground, is and has been for a long time now, that residents of these areas, have absolutely no reason to place any form of trust in a nation which routinely bombs them into an untimely future. Americas insistence that all that is evil is based in our tribal areas drawing up plans for attacks on 'Fortress America has always been more than a little far-fetched; it would be much simpler and far more sensible for 'attackers to prepare assaults from locations closer to their intended targets and, whilst there is no doubt that some hardened miscreants have been wiped off the face of the earth by what are commonly perceived as 'illegal drone attacks, it is also true to say that 'civilians, many of them women and children, have been blown to smithereens too. On top of this, American interference and insistence ensured that millions of our countrymen, along with their families of course, were forcibly displaced from their homes, land and thus employment, when our armed forces launched an unprecedented war against militants in the tribal belt who may, or may not, be engaged in attacking American troops in Afghanistan when they arent unleashing suicide bombers here. This is not to suggest that our army is wrong in tackling militants head on, they are perfectly right in their actions but, unfortunately, many people are under the impression that action was, and is, being taken solely at Americas behest, the fact that America repeatedly demands that we 'do more underscoring this point. It is little wonder therefore, that the innocent 'victims of American 'aggression are more than a little wary of aid programmes being thrust in their faces by an American contractor, Development Alternatives Inc., the aid arm of the American government itself. On the face of things, perhaps, and this is possible, America is trying to provide a total of $7.5 billion in development assistance over a five year period in order to off set the damage they have and are doing but, for a proud people to accept 'structural payoffs for irreparable damage to the fabric of their lives and culture smacks of an additional insult to their traditional pride. Then there is the obvious, completely understandable, lack of trust: American ideology being so very different from that of tribesmen to whom 'American contractor means 'Blackwater, then the stupidity of sending American nationals to 'help them restructure their lives should have been eminently visible from the programmes inception and current moves, initiated by the American government, to belatedly switch tactics and channel their aid money through Pakistani organisations is unlikely to succeed either as, disguise the source all they will, truth has a way of breaking out. To top it all, Development Alternatives Inc., which obviously does not have a competent historian on its staff, landed the job of convincing these historically independent, largely self-ruling tribes people to place their complete trust, along with their very lives if need be, directly in the 'trustworthy hands of the Government of Pakistan Adding insult to injury, literally speaking that is, in line with the majority of foreign aid agencies, its American employees homed in on the most expensive rental properties around, aiming their equally high cost vehicles in the direction of 'exclusive parties and the 'good life that an overseas posting entails when they arent commiserating with the suddenly poverty stricken, perhaps shell shocked and injured, people crammed into makeshift tents who they have, supposedly, come to help. The world of international aid agencies, some of who actually do good and some of whom squander other peoples money like theres no tomorrow, is very much a 'Members only club which, ridiculously, places itself way above 'localised agencies indigenous to the country in 'need. Pompously excluding local agencies, whose employees/volunteers speak the language, know the customs and have at least some understanding of what is required on the ground, is all par for the course for the international 'set and especially so if a local organisation comes up with relatively low cost solution for whatever problem needs to be solved as, the less money spent in the field, the more questionable their own expense accounts plus, for the unscrupulous, less chance of a rake-off. According to some residents of our tribal areas, they have more than had their fill of foreign aid agencies that dont seem to do anything other than 'hold meetings amongst themselves, poke their noses into private affairs, shuffle papers and take undue advantage of the traditional code of hospitality and would much prefer to get on with the task of rebuilding their lives themselves if, that is, they can earn enough of an income to do so. The writer is a Murree-based freelance columnist.