Islamabad : The United States is planning a television programming project targeting Pakistani children in what many describe as an attempt to win the hearts and minds of the younger generation and neutralize growing anti-American sentiments.
The US Aid Agency for International Developments (USAID) has recently advertised the plan in local newspapers seeking proposals from Pakistani and US firms involved in the making of children programs for developing television and multi-media programming for Pakistani children.
A sum of Rs 1.5 billion (20 million dollars) has been allocated to the four-year program.
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The purpose of the program, according to Sohail Hummayun, one of the USAID officials involved in this project, is to develop the language, problem-solving and critical thinking abilities among Pakistani children.
Many are suspicious of the project.
“There is no free lunch in America,” says Hafiz Hussain Ahmad, a former parliamentarian and central leader of Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI), which represents the powerful Dubendi school of thought in Pakistan. “It doesn’t invest anything anywhere without any interest. Therefore, whatever America is investing here, is not at all without any interest.”
The US embassy spokesman in Islamabad Richard Snelsire avoided commenting on the proposed plans.
“The contract has not been awarded yet so we are legally restricted in what we can say,” he said.
He denied accusations that it is a politically-motivated program to win the hearts and minds of Pakistani children.
“No it’s a development program.”