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Pakistan is an active member of several international and regional consortia, including the U.N., the Organization of Islamic Conference, and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. In addition, Pakistan works continually to maintain and improve its bilateral relationships with its neighbors and donor countries. Pakistan receives about U.S.$2 billion per year from bilateral donors and international financial institutions. Much of this assistance comes in the form of loans, debt restructuring, and direct investment. Pakistan has an external debt of $28.6 billion and regularly has both a budget and a trade deficit. The government has been actively pursuing increased direct investment in order to lessen its dependence on foreign loans and grants. Assistance that comes in the form of grants often goes toward infrastructure improvements and finance reform, with little for programs that will directly affect women. Several donor countries and multilateral institutions have "women in development" programs or policies, but few such programs are being administered in Pakistan. Those that exist do not directly address violence against women or the inadequate response of the government.

The United States

Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. rewarded Pakistan's support of the Afghan resistance and its hosting of Afghan refugees with renewed aid. During the 1980s, the U.S. provided more than $7 billion in military and economic assistance. All military and new economic assistance was halted in October 1990 under a U.S. law that forbids non-emergency aid to countries that possess nuclear devices.35 Since then, Pakistan has continued to receive some emergency assistance from the U.S., primarily for its Afghan refugee population, and the two countries have worked together to prevent drug trafficking and weapons proliferation in the region.

In March 1995 First Lady Hillary Clinton included Pakistan in her tour of Asia, signaling improving relations between the U.S. and Pakistan. In a November 1997 trip to South Asia, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced therenewal of economic aid to Pakistan.36 Among the new programs announced by Albright were $10 million from the Agency for International Development (AID) for family planning, education, literacy, and nutrition; $10 million in food aid under the Food for Peace program; and a new Overseas Private Investment Corporation agreement to facilitate U.S. investment in Pakistan. None squarely addressed issues of violence against women or reform of the criminal justice system.

However, when Pakistan tested several nuclear devices in May 1998, all non-emergency assistance to Pakistan was again automatically stopped except for a congressional exception allowing Pakistan to buy American wheat.

Other Bilateral Assistance

The largest bilateral donor to Pakistan is Japan, which annually provides more than $250 million and is also Pakistan's second-largest trade partner. Other major donor countries include the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, and the Netherlands. Most of these countries have women in development policies or programs, many of which are translated into funding for girls' education, family planning programs, and maternal health initiatives. Little official development assistance goes toward reforming the criminal justice system or making the medicolegal procedure more accessible to all crime victims, including women.

The European Union

The European Community (E.C.) has become the world's fifth-largest aid donor, with more than 90 percent of its assistance in the form of grants. Pakistan has been one of the largest recipients of European Community aid in Asia. Currently, the European Community, through its European Investment Bank, is financing the construction of a hydropower complex and backing family planning programs in Pakistan. Although it has repeatedly stated its commitment to promoting women's status and its recognition of women in sustainable development, the E.C. does not have an explicit women in development program in Pakistan, and none of its current assistance is addressing violence against women or reform of the criminal justice system.

International Financial Institutions

In addition to direct bilateral assistance, Pakistan annually receives several million dollars from international and regional financial institutions such as theWorld Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Islamic Development Bank, and the Asian Development Bank.

In fiscal year 1997, the World Bank administered forty-two projects in Pakistan totaling more than $4.4 billion.37 The bank's numerous goals in Pakistan include supporting fiscal adjustment, expanding access to improved social services, reforming the banking system, developing infrastructure, and improving governance. As a general matter, the World Bank has included in its operational policies and procedures a consideration of the "gender dimension of development." Specifically, the bank's gender policy is intended "to reduce gender disparities and enhance women's participation in the economic development of their countries by integrating gender considerations in its country assistance program."38 Included in the strategies to implement this policy is a bank pledge to assist countries in "review[ing] and modify[ing] legal and regulatory frameworks to improve women's access to assets and services, and take institutional measures to ensure that legal changes are implemented in actual practice, with due regard to cultural sensitivity."39 Built into the policy are review mechanisms to evaluate the bank's success in integrating gender into its operations.

Although it does not directly improve women's access to justice or the Pakistan government's response to violence against women, one bank program that does target women is its support of Pakistan's Social Action Program, a nationwide strategy to improve basic social services (elementary education, primary health care, population welfare, and rural water supply and sanitation) with an emphasis on poor, rural women. The bank's $250 million credit to the program focuses on building the government's capacity to deliver effective social service programs, increasing accountability, and improving governance.

The Asian Development Bank has also funded women in development projects in Pakistan, although none is currently being supported. In 1997, the Asian Development Bank loaned more than $500 million to Pakistan, with the bulk of assistance going to agriculture, infrastructure, and finance programs. Improving the status of women is one of the ADB's medium-term objectives, but beyond a one-time $200 million loan to the Pakistan government's Social Action Program, the bank's current operations in Pakistan are doing little to achieve this objective.

The United Nations

The United Nations has maintained a resident coordinator in Pakistan since 1979. More than a dozen U.N. agencies currently operate in Pakistan, including the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF), the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). In total, the U.N. system gave $76.7 million to Pakistan in official development assistance through its various funds, programs, and agencies in 1997. Several of these agencies are working to improve women's status in Pakistan, and a few programs directly address violence against women. The U.N. has also created an inter-agency working group on gender and development in Pakistan, composed of representatives from donor governments and U.N. agencies working in Pakistan, to discuss progress of the Pakistan government's gender-related initiatives and review ways to strengthen the U.N.'s own gender work.

Among the U.N. agencies operating in Pakistan, the UNDP has the most comprehensive gender program. Describing its approach in terms of empowerment, UNDP Pakistan's gender program has been working with the government to change the status of Pakistani women by focusing on a number of concrete areas, including women's mobility, economic and social empowerment, access to credit, negative portrayals of women in the media, and enterprise development for rural women. Although UNDP/Pakistan recognizes the link between violence, women's low status, and barriers to sustainable development, none of its current operations directly addresses preventing violence, facilitating women's access to justice, or improving the state's response to violence against women.

The WHO also has many programs in Pakistan, but none of its current operations in Pakistan addresses violence against women and its health consequences. WHO has been working to incorporate gender into its work more generally. It recently initiated a multi-country research project into domestic violence against women with the purpose of increasing awareness of the issue among the health community and improving its capacity to identify, prevent, and respond to such violence; Pakistan, however, is not among the countries being studied. Other WHO programs include documenting and testing intervention strategies; developing a research manual for work in poor areas; setting up a database of research and data on the many forms of violence against women; and compiling an information package for health professionals on current information about violence against women. WHO has recognized the critical role the health community plays in responding to violence against women and plans to produce guidelines for health professionals who work with victims of violence. As of 1999none of these initiatives was being conducted in Pakistan, however. WHO should, in light of the prevalence of unremedied violence against women in the country, include Pakistan in its programs on women and violence or design an initiative that responds specifically to the problems in this context in Pakistan.

35 The Pressler Amendment to the Foreign Service Act (Section 620e(e)) requires the administration to certify that any countries that receive U.S. assistance not possess nuclear devices. In 1990 the Bush administration could not certify that Pakistan met this requirement, and all aid was automatically suspended. However, U.S. AID has given more than U.S. $9 million since 1995 to NGOs operating in Pakistan and is planning to continue this indirect assistance.

36 The Pressler Amendment does not preclude these new initiatives becuase this aid channeled through nongovernmental subcontractors.

37 World Bank, Country Brief: Pakistan,

38 World Bank, Operational Policies & Procedures: The Gender Dimension of Development,

39 Ibid.

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