The donors' conference in Islamabad on November 19 might as well have been held on Mars, as far as the victims of Pakistan's devastating earthquake are concerned. Donors pledged US$5.8 billion ($0.6 billion more than what Pakistan had asked for), but the sting is in the detail.
In recent months the world's richest countries, led by the US and Britain, have been claiming noisily that they plan to have the world's poorest regions, particularly Africa, lifted out of poverty; they also intend to improve human rights there, they say.1
The unprecedented deal to give 30 poor countries debt-relief, freeing them from the crippling burden of their debts to the West, was presented by the group of seven rich countries approving it as a noble achievement that is certain to eradicate world poverty.
In a move that is certain to test president Mubarak’s determination to avoid a public quarrel with the US, the US government has refused to give more aid to the Egyptian government. Syria announced that Farouq Shara, its foreign minister, would visit Egypt to express solidarity against the US and protect Arab interests.
Foreign aid, whether in the form of loans or grants, in cash or in kind, is often touted as a useful way to bring about an international redistribution of global wealth. One streak of classical economic growth theorization, known as the economic convergence theory...