Pakistan in Debt Trap

For the last few years, Western Media was propagating that launched the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) to trap developing countries in debt and increase its political goals. Sometimes, they use local agents to make similar propaganda too.

But, in Pakistan, we are experiencing a different phenomenon. Pakistan’s debt has already crossed 100 billion and still, the economy is not good shape. Most of the debt is from the IMF, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Paris Club, etc. There is only a small fraction of Debt due to CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor), which constitutes around 5% of the total liability of Pakistan.

Pakistan is under the IMF program and strictly following its designed reforms. IMF has been passing satisfactory remarks on Pakistan’s performance. Some of the International Institutions are ranking Pakistan in an improved form. The government is also projecting data of a better economic situation.

But, on the ground, the general public is rather expressing a different version. The electricity prices have gone up sharply, Gas has been expensive by almost 200 %. Fuel is getting higher prices on a monthly basis. Price hike of Electricity, Gas, and Fuel has resulted in price hike food and consumer products. Not only the cost has gone up, but some of the essential food products have vanished from the market and a severe shortage of supply is witnessed.

Pakistan is an Agro-based country and is capable to feed many neighboring countries too. It is strange that like Wheat and Sugar, are also in short supply. It can be understood that imported items may be expensive due to currency devaluation. But the domestically grown food items are also getting higher prices in the market.

The situation has been deteriorated to the extent that Prime Minister Imran Khan has to intervene and take some emergency measures. He has allocated huge funds to meet the crisis of food in the country.

Other countries like Egypt and Argentina, who are availing IMF programs, are also facing a similar situation. Although the people managing IMF programs are very well qualified, the output is against the desired output.

If you look carefully, in Pakistan, it is the same team, who has caused disaster in Egypt. Is it time for Pakistan to face similar challenges like Egypt and Argentina? It is planed? Or Designed? Or maybe just by Chance only or coincidence? Many more questions come into our minds.

It is on record that PM Imran Khan was not in favor of going to IMF, he has expressed such feelings during his election campaign. How he was convinced or trapped to approach IMF finally?

People were inducted in his team, who surrounded him and kept him isolated from others. They lobbied and convinced him to approve to go to IMF. The team around him is not PTI team, some of them have never joined PTI and few of them have joined PTI just near the Election season, and lack any strong affiliation with PTI. There are also some imported experts working on a very sensitive and crucial position around him. May be PM Imran Khan was under pressure to induct some of his team members, but the whole team cannot be imposed on him. On the other hand, hardcore PTI workers are disgruntled.

No doubt about the honesty and sincerity of PM Imran Khan, but choosing the right team was his prime responsibility. He cannot be spared if his team is misleading him or making wrong decisions. He is supposed to get feedback and consultations from various sources before making a critical decision.

I am afraid, if the current team is not rectified, and followed the current IMF program, the country may face even a much more serious crisis. No doubt, the public had over expectations from PM Imran Khan, but his team’s performance is rather poor.

I think, we are a resilient nation and can manage any challenge, but need to rectify our mistakes. Comprehensive reforms and restructuring are essential in his team. Deep reform at policy levels and ruthless accountability is the only way forward. Although PM Imran Khan spoke about merit on many occasions, on the ground, there is still nepotism and lack of merit. Competent, loyal and sincere people are suffering.

West war making propaganda about China, but what we are facing is Debt Trap by them. The trick is to install their people in key positions, where they can influence decisions and achieve their political goals. I believe BRI is not a debt trap, but West utilizes International Institutions for debt trap and political goals.

Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan
Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan
Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.