Borrowed time

Borrowed time

Haroon Rashid Siddiqi June 09, 2021
The writer is a retired professional based in Karachi. He can be reached at

Ai taer e lahoti us rizq se maut acchi

Jis rizq se aati ho parwaz may kotahi

Imran khan had the best of intentions when he, prior to becoming the prime minister, constantly harped on the philosophy of Shaer-e-Mashriq Allama Iqbal enunciated in his above cited couplet rather than going to IMF. We saw Imran Khan's first finance minister, Asad Umar, dragging his feet to knock at the IMF door and was himself knocked out as a result. But we can and we should excuse Imran Khan for his pedagogy of economics from his dharna container as it was probably inevitable for his coming to power. Matters look quite different when you are on the other side of the fence.

My own estimation tells me that it can only be some divine intervention that can extricate Pakistan from the stranglehold of its foreign lending Shylocks. The country is entirely pawned to multilateral donors, IMF, Paris Club, investors in Euro and Sukuk bonds, and above all China with reference to CPEC projects. Pakistan's foreign debt has soared to $115.7 billion as of December 2020. For the same period, the domestic borrowing stood at Rs24.309 trillion. Together the total public debt adds up to Rs44.978 trillion, or $283 billion, which is 98.7 per cent of our gross domestic product. This provides us a quick outlook of our colossal debt obligations. All other economic indicators become unimportant for the time being.

We have capitulated our pride and dignity for the greenbacks which are recurrently needed to keep our extravagant lifestyle going in the wake of disastrous consequences. Alas! we resolutely endeavour to keep our foreign exchange reserves topped up by begging and borrowing. We are merrily trapped in this vicious circle and the wicked political agenda of the West. The haves of the country are sipping the wine to the dregs with the hope that saqi (IMF) will keep on filling the cup, least realising what Ghalib had thought of such generosity.  

Mujh tak kab unki bazm mai ata tha daure jam

Saqi nai kutch mila na diya ho sharab mai

Ironically, our financial experts and fiscal gurus are avowed disciples of the World Bank and IMF policies. We look up to them for remedies while they tighten the noose around our necks and shackle our existence in the dictated conditionalities of their foreign masters.

Another endearing slogan of Imran Khan was to purge the country of the deeply embedded corruption and nepotism. Unfortunately, he wrongly assumed that only the man at the top is required to be clean and honest while the rest would automatically fall in line. Today Imran Khan is valiantly waging a lone battle against the corrupt elements not only in his own cabinet and the bureaucracy but also taking on the business community which spares no opportunity of making hay while the sun shines. The epitome of justice in any country can be determined by the perception of its judiciary. If the judiciary is unwilling to accept its own accountability by its own peers, then the society is bound to suffer from lawlessness and chaos. While mockery of justice prevails in our society, we can still find some solace by reciting this verse by Faiz. My apology to the poet for replacing the word falak with adal.

Daste adal may gardishay taqdeer to nahi

Daste adal may gardishay ayam he to hai