Jun 12 2012
OH NO! Congress ‘slashes’ foreign aid to Pakistan, cuts $20 million from the Pakistani Sesame Street program
Oh, yeah, this’ll show those Pakistani ingrates who hid Osama bin Laden for ten years and cut off our military supply routes to Afghanistan. How will the Pakistani government keep funding the Taliban and other militant groups now that we are cutting $20 million from the $1.5 billion in aid we’ve been giving them every year?
CSM Poor Elmo, no longer will he be squealing in Urdu. The cutbacks come amid allegations of fraud by the Lahore-based theater group that produces the children’s show, but it also comes at a time when the US-Pakistani relationship is strained, and when the US government is cutting back dramatically on foreign aid worldwide.
USAID allocated $20 million for the production of Sim Sim Hamara (which means “Our Street” in Urdu), and $6.7 million of that was used to produce the first season, which premiered in 2011. The remainder of the contract has been terminated, pending the results of an investigation into the fraud charges.
CSM The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 with the US government authorizes democratic, economic, and development assistance to Pakistan of up to $1.5 billion per year from fiscal year 2010 to 2014, for a total of as much as $7.5 billion, according to USAID officials documents. Pakistani analysts feel that the US government has failed to change the perceptions of the public in Pakistan despite its huge commitments. Pakistanis still hate America as much, if not more, than ever before.
On a happier note, Pakistan isn’t the only country to lose funding for a local version of Sesame Street. In January, the US State Department announced it was cutting funds for Sharaa Sim Sim, the Palestinian version of the show, because of funding cuts from Congress.