We Pakistanis are addicted to aid

By Farrukh Saleem

Our government is high on cocaine. It spends a whopping $ 10 billion more than what it earns. We are also high on cocaine. Our imports are $ 15 billion more than our exports. In September, we begged the US for inject able cocaine so that we can maintain our high for another month. In October, we begged China for the same. In November, we will go to Abu Dhabi for even more begging; craving the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, China, Japan, Australia and the European Union. The US, China and the world are all sure that we will keep coming back for more. Who’s going to give us $20 billion every year, year-in-year-out?

Some 37 years ago, we begged the world to forgive our loans because half of our country was gone. In 1974, we begged the world to give us even more loans because the price of oil had quadrupled. Some 10 years ago, we begged Saudi Arabia for free oil because we couldn’t hide our N-bomb (we had made the bomb that it would protect us but, ironically, we have been protecting the bomb since its birth). In 2000, we went for begging again; begging the Paris Club to reschedule our loans.

Over the past seven years, expatriate Pakistanis have sent back $ 31 billion. Between 2002 and 2008, direct overt US aid and military reimbursements to Pakistan have amounted to $ 11.998 billion. That’s a total of $ 43 billion. And, now we are back to begging.

Why don’t we admit that we are addicted to loan abuse, aid dependent and wedded to charity? Why don’t we admit that we are sickَsick to the bone and that we can’t do without an intensive rehab program? More cocaine is not the answer, rehab is.

Imagine; Pakistan is a $ 140 billion economy and there are 41 ministries in addition to the state ministers, advisors, people with the status of a minister, 19 parliamentary secretaries, five advisors, ambassadors at-large and 46 chairmen of standing committees. The rule of thumb is that each minister costs us a 10 million rupee per year. Look at the United States. At $ 14 trillion, 100 times bigger than Pakistan, the US is managed by a cabinet of 16 people: the Vice President plus secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defence, Education, Energy, Health, Homeland Security, Housing, Interior, Labour, State, Transportation, Treasury, Veterans Affairs and the Attorney General.

Look at Switzerland, for instance. The entire federal government of Switzerland is a seven-member executive council that heads the seven federal executive departments. Why do we need 41 ministries? Switzerland has just seven departments namely Home Affairs Defence, Environment, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Economic Affairs and Justice.

Can we forget cocaine and talk of rehabilitation and restructuring? Who has been advising the president to go to the US and beg? To go to China and beg. To go to Abu Dhabi and beg. Neither the US nor China has the potion to treat our addiction.

The IMF may have the concoction to our agony. The IMF will design an extremely painful restructuring program for us and we would have to go through excruciating pain; cutting fat and a depreciating rupee. True, the IMF has a poor record of treating patients with malignant diseases but unfortunate for us the IMF is the only doctor around. Take it or leave it! This time it’s kill or cure. We are so sick, sick to the bone but still stuck to our addiction.

Source: The News, 23/10/2008

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