By Sardar Khan Niazi
Marked with mounting debt stock, higher inflation, and large-scale unemployment, Pakistan’s economy is in trouble. Pakistan is one of the fifty-two countries facing a debt crisis.
The most acute problem confronted by its economy is the repayment and servicing of external debt. Regular borrowing to service this liability has created a spiral with more borrowing creating a looming economic crisis.
This extraordinary degree of indebtedness has made Pakistan exceedingly vulnerable to economic shocks and weakened the country politically vis-a-vis powerful external lenders. It has also significantly compromised Pakistan’s capability to invest in education and healthcare.
A thorough examination of this borrowing trend reveals that Pakistan is absolutely under the control of the USA and its allies as far as borrowing is concerned.
A softer schedule for borrowing for Pakistan was allowed when we supported the US wholeheartedly in the Cold War, the Afghan War, and then in War against Terror. In short, Pakistan has been leveraging its geography for financial gains. It cannot continue to operate its external account with this mindset. Hence the need for a reset.
Pakistan, which was economically weak when created in 1947 has been brought to the verge of an economic collapse due to short-term planning and popular politics. In economic terms, the state and the ruling elite are living beyond their means.
Nonetheless, there is no national or social alarm on these matters nor are there apparent or implied actions to end these practices. The result is, that only from 1976 to 2021 Pakistan had an accumulated increase in external debt of over $ 75 billion.
Recently, the International Monetary Fund gave Pakistan a $1.16 billion lifeline to avoid an imminent default. Pakistan also secured pledges for a total of $9 billion in investments and loans from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
With such a poor condition of the economy, why VVIPs cannot do without bulletproof luxury vehicles? Some ministers ride in bulletproof vehicles pretending to face a threat to their life. Why do they jump into politics if they feel their lives are susceptible to danger?
The despondent people we witness in areas hit by floods carrying their bags of clothing on their heads and wading through water to safety shows what an unjust world we live in. A thought of carelessness and negligence crosses our minds on seeing the disparity between the super-rich and the downtrodden deprived by the system.
Is it not sad to know that in a country where people from the poorest segment of society are forced to take their lives for want of food, luxury stores still display imported bags of dog and cat food for the pets of the affluent?
Nevertheless, what haunts us most is that we have too big a government and too small an economy to feed it. Observe any government department, and one finds layers upon layers of bureaucrats drawing huge salaries and enjoying other privileges such as housing and luxury cars.
The vehicles seen in the parking lots of national and provincial assemblies, the extravagant dinners and lunches and marriage ceremonies, the Umrah and Ziarats from untaxed money, and the travel on foreign airlines, are just wasteful acts and a burden on the country’s economy.
The most expensive cars bearing green registration plates are seen parked outside the homes of our national leaders. The problems the country is facing do not support such a lifestyle. There is a need for responsible behavior by the leaders.
Our leaders continue to ignore this state of circumstances. Their political rhetoric and the instability of their political mandate show that they are all engaged in just point scoring. They are actually part of the problem and not the solution.