Details of a plan to blanket Pakistani media with U.S. government-supplied messages were discovered this past week, when the U.S. Agency for Internatonal Development (USAID) stepped up its search for a contractor capable of carrying out a propaganda mission on its behalf. USAID on Thursday (June 19) released a formal Request for Proposals/Statement of Work containing specifics of the public-perception endeavor. The document asserted that, despite annually providing about a half-billion dollars in "developmental" aid to Pakistan, U.S. assistance does not receive adequate recognition." It did not, however, refer to military and technical assistance that the U.S. provides to that nation. Rather, the agency pointed out that:
A September 2007 survey by the U.S. Institute of Peace indicates that a remarkably high 86 percent of urban Pakistanis agreed that it was a U.S. goal to "weaken and divide the Islamic world," and that view is growing. The survey also highlights the urban Pakistani view that the United States is an untrustworthy superpower. A 64 percent majority expressed doubt that the United States could be trusted "to act responsibly in the world.
The U.S. Secretary of State has made the showcasing of America’s development work a priority foreign policy goal. To support this goal and to alter anti-American perceptions, the USAID Mission will launch an intensive public awareness campaign designed to reach the greatest number of Pakistanis (urban and rural) via newspaper, billboard, radio and television communication. These messages will communicate how USAID-assisted programs make Pakistan a healthier, better educated and more prosperous country.
The Peacock Report recently broke the story on this project, which formally is known as the "USAID/Pakistan Outreach Campaign" (TPR, 6/08). The initiative, though ambitious in scope, is modest in financial terms. The estimated value of the contract -- which could be awarded by summer's end -- is $600,000.