Mon. Sep 23rd, 2019

Who is calling the Shots:an Economic Coup in Pakistan?

By Shahzada Ahsan Ashraf

With removal of Chairman FBR and Governor SBP, barely two weeks after the sacking of Asad Umar, the whole top-management of Pakistan Economy now stands dismissed, either for its sheer incompetence or not toeing the IMF agenda blindly, and is being taken over by IMF and World bank.

There cannot be a bigger disgrace to a country than to sack its top negotiators* with a multilateral body like IMF in the midst of negotiations, let alone during a visiting technical mission’s negotiations in its capital. Who is calling the shots?

It can be now safely argued that the US has successfully staged an Economic coup d’état in Pakistan.

All the PTI grand-standing of ‘self-reliance’, ‘self-respect’, ‘dignity’ and ‘courage in the face of adversity and pressure’ is going down the drain. Whether PTI Govt survives or not, Prime Minister is making sure that the national economy will be run directly by the US/IMF for at least the next three years and indirectly for years to follow.

The most unfortunate bit is that PTI die-hards rejoice at the new dismissals, considering the FBR/SBP officials as closer to Sharif but fail to see the direction IK is taking the economy & country to, – out of the pan into the fire. Assured slavery to Imperialists & neo-Colonists, if not a collective suicide!

Reza Baqir, the new SBP Governor , is yet another Economic Hit Man, who has been working for IMF since 2000 and whose specialization is ‘debt policy’ and keeping the countries in debt slavery. Reza finally gets appointed, after the Finance Ministry, the Govt had handed over the central bank as well to the likes of Rotschilds to fulfil the anti-Christ’s New International Economic Order (NIEO). As pointed out by Prof Immanuel Wallerstein and others, capitalism as an economic system is dead and in transition into something new, and in its quest for creating a new economic system, post-capitalism, the NIEO does not want any unplanned, unforeseen market shocks and is micromanaging the global system to extreme minutes.

The role of every single actor, even smaller, in global economy thus matters a lot. Pakistan is clearly selling itself for peanuts. Recall it’s the same Rotschilds & associated people who when took control of the Federal Reserve reportedly got all its gold vanished from Ft Knox; so don’t be surprised if now, in his usual celebrity charm, IK mortgages the state’s gold or sells off part of it in the name of fiscal management. Before IK hands over SBP to Rotschilds and before the state permits an EHM control its gold, precious reserves, currency and sovereign debt, IK needs to come clean on his negotiations and understandings with IMF before the Parliament, media and public and explain his new economic team’s credentials, Reza Baqir’s role in clearing off debts of countries where he worked in or headed IMF resident missions, interesting strategic places: the Philippines, Romania/Bulgaria, Egypt, etc. – probably their debts are worse off today than 20 years ago.

In one of IMF internal papers co-authored by Reza Baqir in 2005, after analyzing a large data set, comprising 94 programs between 1989 and 2002, he *himself concluded that outcomes of IMF programs typically fell short of expectations in growth and inflation and were merely consistent with programmed external current account objectives, i.e in general they worsened an economy off in the long-run. Besides others, Reza Baqir is also an *old pal of Koshy Mathai, an Indian-origin IMF advisor, from their undergrad days at Harvard in 1990s. He has spoken on behalf of IMF/WB at key debt-related moots and has been sporting a beard since his posting in Egypt.

Pity the nation. Statecraft is not an “all or none” game*. Unfortunately, IK seems to be on a dangerous political adventure, striking an understanding with IMF/WB and now handing over the economy to them to perpetuate his power. With several of his other statements & initiatives, in fact, it appears that IK Govt is rather seeking approval and validation from the US/West, just like its predecessors, albeit in a nuanced way.

Each modern nation-state has debt issues, an integral part of interest-based capitalist economies, and should develop its own indigenous solutions. But no country has turned debt into such a zombie as the PTI Govt has. After all, in 1999, even Pakistan itself successfully rescheduled its external debt to the tune of about $1 billion by just the London Club creditors and likewise by the Paris Club. What homework did Imran Khan, otherwise deeply entrenched and wired with the International Establishment thanks to his 23 years of active service to the City of London’s high society, do with creditors in the London & Paris Clubs before surrendering to IMF? Besides debt rescheduling or restructuring, fiscal discipline, import controls or import substitution etc, several options existed to manage the national debt, including the less talked about options of declaration of large part of the Zardari- & Sharif-era debt as odious, or at worst a default, but the Govt appears rudderless. It is now becoming clear that after the IMF/WB stooges take control of key portfolios, they will suck revenues that Pakistan could generate in debt-servicing and allow part of the external debt due for service in the next 3 years (~$ 27 billion) as rescheduled by the London & Paris Clubs, i.e. delayed payments, no write-off, higher cumulative interest payments, a debt spiral, and a long-term economic slavery and bonded labor by the nation for the master Banks, which will be then spun as big achievement by PTI propagandists and global Establishment, who will together hail IK as a savior and messiah. Ironically, Imran Khan *hails Tipu Sultan as his hero but has followed the path of economic slavery.

Channelling anti-incumbency frustration and anti-Corruption dream of people into deep confrontation, social upheaval and a cosmetic system makeover appears destructive from within. Like Habibullah Kalakani aka Bacha Saqqa of Afghanistan or Muhammad Tughlaq of India, Pakistanis seem to have been fooled yet again*. Will the state continue to wait for the miracle or auto-correct? That is to be seen!

The writer is former federal minister and Chairman PIA

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