Tuesday, February 14, 2012

PF Assistance to Pakistan Topic Analysis - part 2

For more about Public Forum Debate including topic analysis, strategies and links to evidence, *click here*.

I have focused on aid to Pakistan, particularly foreign aid, but the resolution says assistance.  Are there other kinds of assistance which may fall outside of what would be termed normal foreign aid?  I suppose the clever researcher will find something but I am not inclined to dig that deeply for some obscure form of assistance.  If you know of any, leave a comment and I may investigate it if it seems significant.  Virtually all of the sources I have checked use the words aid and assistance interchangeably with respect to our dealings with Pakistan.

Why Now?
I guess for the sake of completeness the interested debater should understand, there are always calls to suspend or end aid to various countries in order to accomplish some kind of political objective.  So why this recent push?  Though our relationship with Pakistan has never been one of openness and trust, a serious rift began with the Raymond Davis affair in January of 2011.  (see: http://www.webcitation.org/5xtOhBZ9q)  This uneasiness extended to the raid on Osama Bin Ladin's compound in May of 2011.  After 10 years of working with Pakistan to find Bin Ladin, there was a very negative reactive to finding him, more or less, living peacefully in Pakistan. For some, this was outrageous.  The somewhat tenuous relationship with Pakistan worsened even more afterwards.  For an interesting perspective of the U.S. - Pakistan relationship prior to the 2011 raid on the Bin Ladin compound, read this State Department Report: Pakistan-U.S. Relations, Kronstadt, 2009 http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33498.pdf). A short summary of the current situation can be found here, which is interesting because it presents a non-U.S. centric point of view : Pakistan-U.S. Relations Year End Review, Fatemi, 2012,  http://tribune.com.pk/story/316512/pakistan-us-relations-year-end-review/

Finally, I would like to mention one more possible motivation to suspend assistance to Pakistan although, I don't think this is necessarily a major factor.  It is charged that corruption is wide-spread in Pakistan and that always makes people uneasy about forking over copious amounts of money to be handled by allegedly corrupt officials.  This somewhat, dated article from 2009 examines that issue: How America Is Funding Corruption in Pakistan, Ibrahim, 2009, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/08/11/assisting_corruption

The PRO Burden
Looking at the wording of the resolution, we see the principle actor is the United States.  This may or may not be an issue, but it should be clear there is no call for the U.N., E.U. or even NATO or other International organizations to suspend assistance.  Therefore, if the CON tries to paint a picture of a collapsing Pakistan without U.S. assistance, PRO can point out that help is still available from other sources.  Nevertheless, I think PRO should still present a picture of a stable and secure Pakistan which will survive a suspension of U.S. assistance.  This will diminish any claims by the CON that Pakistan can be taken over by insurgents or radicals, and Pakistan's nuclear armament could fall into the wrong hands.  This, of course, presents a somewhat trickier course for PRO because the warrants advocating suspension can not be tied to inherent instability.  The resolution says suspend, which carries quite a different meaning than "end" or "abolish".  Suspend suggests a temporary halt until some conditions are met.  It also does not mean, that if a natural disaster strikes, we would not resume as least some forms of humanitarian aid.  Because the resolution explicitly says "all" assistance, it would be difficult to argue only specific kinds of aid should be suspended.  In general, I am bothered by the fact, the word "suspend" is used without any qualifier.  If we temporarily withhold assistance, what is the trigger or time limit for resuming it?  I mean, technically one could say, the U.S. should suspend all assistance for 24 hours and still meet the resolution.  We shall see how the evidence stacks up and how teams debate this resolution very soon.

The CON Burden
CON can take several approaches to the debate, in my opinion.  The most obvious is look to why we support Pakistan now, citing our national security interests and then advocate the necessity of maintaining this relationship at all costs.  Indeed there are significant warrants to justify an unwavering commitment in Pakistan despite, at times, a rocky relationship that does not always see eye to eye.  In fact, it may even be argued that more should be done to increase our assistance as a means to promote stability.  CON should argue that withdrawal of assistance can have a destabilizing effect. Recall, according to the U.S. State Department, the primary purpose of foreign aid is to promote our own national security.  Today, we support other countries (look to Saudi Arabia for example) that often clash with our objectives and yet we believe the importance of a continued assistance outweighs the ideological differences that exist.  Several, unusual but legitimate approaches to the CON case could center around modification of the PRO burden.  For example, perhaps CON can agree we should suspend military assistance until certain conditions are met but argue it would be foolish and disastrous to discontinue other forms of aid such as humanitarian aid, especially considering the widespread poverty  Such a tact is still in keeping with the CON advocacy by leveraging the "all" burden on the PRO case.


  1. great article helped me in me and my partner a lot (:

  2. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I've been trying to find some topic analysis on this topic for days! So helpful.

  3. On the neg, do you think it would be beneficial to include non-governmental organizations as contributors of "assistance"?

    1. I guess that depends on the purpose behind including the NGO argument. I think there is definite support for NGOs providing all kinds of assistance, often more efficiently and effectively than Government programs. How one could use this on the Con is unclear to me since one could use NGOs on the Pro side as well.

      In general, I have mixed response to NGOs as they relate to this resolution. NGO is a complex term, because while they are non-governmental they are often supported and regulated by the government. In general, if one assumes NGOs are truly non-governmental then they function independently of both the PRO and CON advocacy. Since the resolution specifically says the "United States" and we assume that to mean the "United States Federal Government", technically, NGOs fall outside of the scope of the resolution but they can still be a factor in debate cases.


Feel free to leave comments relevant to the topics and activity of competitive high school debate. However, this is not a sounding board for your personal ideologies, abusive or racist commentary or excessive inappropriate language. Everyday Debate blog reserves the right to delete any comments it deems inappropriate.