Islamist charities and the United States are competing for the allegiance of the two million people displaced by the fight against the Taliban in Swat and other parts of Pakistan — and so far, the Islamists are in the lead.
Top US officials (and the Times) make no apologies for the fact that the aid is intended primarily as a counter-insurgency program:
The inconspicuous back seat is not what American officials had hoped for. At first, the huge exodus of people from Swat, many of whom had suffered from the brutality of the Taliban, seemed to present an opportunity for Washington to improve its image in Pakistan.
“There is an opportunity actually to provide services, much as we did with the earthquake relief, which had a profound impact on the perception of America,” Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who serves as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.