The United States will work with the Pakistans government to renovate more than 2,000 schools and build 150 new ones over the next two years as part of its efforts to improve education in Pakistan, US ambassador Cameron Munter has said. Responding to an article in a leading American newspaper implying that US had failed to contribute to strengthening education in Pakistan, the envoy said that since 2002, Washington has provided nearly $640 million for the betterment of education, benefiting more than 900,000 students. In his regular column in The New York Times on his recent visit to Pakistan, correspondent Nicholas Kristoff said that the US had allocated large amount of military aid to Pakistan but not for educational institutions. Ambassador Munter disagreed and said in a letter to the Times, Our Access English micro scholarships programme provides English-language instruction and a chance for a better future to more than 5,000 economically disadvantaged Pakistani students every year. In higher education, we are investing some $20 million a year in Fulbright scholarships to bring Pakistani students to colleges and universities in the United States. Our Access and Fulbright programs in Pakistan are the largest in the world. The Kerry-Lugar legislation, which authorizes $7.5 billion in assistance over the next five years, represents our unmistakable commitment to engagement and partnership with the Pakistani people. We are hard at work every day providing just the kind of hope and opportunity that, as Mr. Kristof so cogently argues, is the best antidote to the hateful and violent ideology of Osama bin Laden and his ilk, the envoy added. Writing about his trip to Pakistan, Kristof also noted that the countrys downhill slide seems to have been arrested and thats notwithstanding the floods that ravaged the country recently. The columnist said, It helps that the United States has approved the Kerry-Lugar-Berman package to provide civilian aid, earning the U.S. a dose of goodwill in Pakistan. But most important, members of Pakistans emerging middle class are stepping up to the plate. They are enraged at the terrorists who have been tearing apart their country, theyre appalled by corruption and illiteracy, and they want peace so that their children can become educated and live a better life. Their obsession is college, not Kashmir. Partly because of middle-class influence, ordinary Pakistanis are increasingly focused on education. About one-fourth of Pakistani children, even from poor families, now attend private schools, simply because the public schools are so wretched. These days the middle class is not only eclipsing the feudal landowners but also rejects the old feudal contempt for the masses. One reflection of the middle-class engagement is the rise of the Citizens Foundation, a terrific aid group started by a group of businessmen frustrated by their countrys appalling schools. Today, T.C.F. runs 660 excellent schools for the poorest citizens. I visited several of these schools on this trip and, wow T.C.F. spends 40 percent less per pupil than state schools do, but manages to provide incomparably better education. Here in the most-populous province of Punjab, for example, nearly 100 percent of Citizens Foundation pupils pass government exams, while over the last four years state schools have averaged a 44 percent pass rate.