Guilty or not – does it really matter?

Dawood Ahmed in Dawn:

Mortenson-290 Yes, Mortenson probably isn’t the angel many of us thought him to be; most people are not. Still, I do not think it is fair to jump on the moral policing brigade calling him a “daakoo” and condemning him to the shameful corridors of history when he probably got more done for the people of Baltistan than many of our countrymen would have if given the exact same opportunity and funds. Let’s be clear, the Pakistani complaint cannot be that he deceived us, it can only be that he claimed more success than he deserved. I am not in the least arguing that we should be blind to the truth or happily allow strangers to be deceived as long as it doesn’t affect us; all I’m saying is that we should really think long and hard before passing judgment on Mortenson when practically speaking, he has probably had a very positive social impact in a country which other foreigners have only very easily tended to dismiss as a lost cause, not worthy of their dime or time.

At such, I firmly believe we may be shooting ourselves in the foot by participating in this blame-game. If Mortenson is discredited and his organisation shuts down, we will gain nothing. Instead, we will suffer great harm by the sudden loss in whatever funding we receive from the Central Asia Institute. Rather as Pakistanis, our interests would be much better served by acknowledging this American’s contributions to our country, maintaining neutrality in this dispute but at the same time showing honesty by co-operating with investigations. In return we should use this opportunity strategically to negotiate for more transparency and a greater share of donations in the future.

More here.