The Transformation of “Capacity” in the Field of International Development: USAID in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 1977-2017
The fates of Afghanistan and Pakistan are intertwined. The colonial demarcation of their shared border exacerbated ethnic and tribal tensions adapting to a state system. Each state’s internal dynamics are complex. The porous nature of the border enables insurgencies, some of which intermingle with state actors and carry out covert state agendas locally, regionally, and globally. The questions of governance and legitimacy have remained in dispute since the inception of both states, underscoring the importance of how capacity and legitimacy are related in governance. This study demonstrates that Western notions of progress are masked by the concept of capacity in the development discourse and translated into projects constructed by institutions, government officials, academics, and private sector actors, perpetuating historical relationships of global inequality that corrupt and compete with indigenous models of governance.