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Foreign Powers Blackmail Pakistan Over Flood Aid
Posted By Shireen M. Mazari On September 23, 2010 @ 5:03 am In Columnists, Economy, Foreign Meddling, Foreign Policy, Pak-US Dialogue, Politics, Shireen M. Mazari, Top Stories, United States | 5 Comments
By Shireen M. Mazari | Published: September 22, 2010
Wednesday, 22 September 2010.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—That realpolitik dominates global politics today, as has always been the case, has never been in doubt despite US propaganda post-bipolarity to the contrary. However, for international agencies to use the monumental flood devastation as a means of forcing through their agenda on Pakistan – an agenda that is directly linked to the US-led and misguided ‘war on terror’ – is carrying realpolitik so far as to make it shameful and border on the immoral.
Here is a natural disaster for which even the most corrupt and inept government cannot be blamed – although the Kalabagh Dam could have done some damage control – and yet the international donors in their meetings sought to exploit this disaster for plugging their own agenda. Instead of moving towards fulfilling the pledges sought by the UN in its many appeals, international institutions like the World Bank tried to use the occasion to push for increased taxation – a demand that will only destabilize Pakistan further. But then perhaps that is the covert agenda of the World Bank which is acting along with the IMF to push forward the US ‘war on terror’ agenda?
While individual countries have increased their aid pledges, most of the money promised remains exactly that and little has actually come through.
Coming back to the IMF and World Bank demands (and the two work in tandem so one can safely refer to them collectively), the country is being driven to chaos and eventually defiance on the streets, as the rulers have bowed before their unreasonable diktat.
First, they have thrust their economic managers on Pakistan in the form of the Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh and the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Dr. Nadeem ul Haq (an old friend but totally imbued with a right wing capitalist mission instilled in him from Chicago University and his days at the IMF). These two have gone on an IMF-dictated rampage on Pakistan and the results have been disastrous. From constant price hikes in utilities and petroleum products to a targeting of public sector higher education. It is too bad Dr. Haq has forgotten that it was through the public sector that he got his scholarship to Chicago in the first place! Such is the philosophy of free enterprise in the Pakistani context!
Anyhow, if one looks at the price hikes Pakistani consumers have had to suffer on IMF diktat, one will realize how if such impositions were made on people in the developed world, they would be out on the streets; but here is a country ravaged by terrorism thanks to its alliance with the US post-9/11 and struck by a flood of Biblical proportions and the IMF and World Bank demand more price hikes and more taxes – especially in the form of the dubious VAT under the guise of a revised GST! Just a few figures should show the picture most vividly:
Can one not see a pattern here of deliberately pushing the masses into a state of anger and eventual revolt which would lead to people coming on the streets and causing further destabilization in the country?
Nor is this all. One of the biggest killers is the never-ending price hikes of electricity. The IMF program this government bought into so stupidly compelled it to increase electricity rates 7.6 percent from April. Add to this, the 1.76 per unit increase in three months (May-July) under the fuel adjustment formula and one can see how the majority may soon have to resort to candles and lanterns although with rising kerosene prices the latter option may soon become a luxury also! Ironically, the government never passes on the benefits of lower fuel prices to the consumers in their electricity bills although the fuel adjustment formula is meant to work under that logic!
So, very soon we will have a hungry Pakistani nation living increasingly in darkness.
That’s not all. The latest move by the Shaikh-Haq duo – the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of the IMF – has been to move in on destroying higher education in Pakistan in the public sector by making it too expensive for the ordinary citizen. It was only after years of struggle that the Universities were able to convince the state that it could not retain its quality professors unless it offered them remunerations at least close to the market rates and the HEC under its last chairman Dr Ata-ur-Rehman introduced the Tenure Track System which stemmed the tide of brain drain from state universities – although it did arouse the ire of the unqualified!
Universities like Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) in Islamabad also began evening classes for students who could not gain admission on merit, but could pay higher fees. So, both aspects of a public sector university were looked after to some extent: it could generate extra funds and also give access to the poor – especially since QAU has a quota system of admissions for all four provinces.
Now Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum have cut off funding for these public sector universities and told them to raise their own finances – which effectively means a major hike in fees which means denying access to the majority of the population. This is nothing short of a criminal act and the Supreme Court not only needs to take suo moto notice of what is surely an unconstitutional move as well, but also needs to impose strict punishment on the Shaikh-Haq duo for seeking to deny the public fair access to public sector higher education.
Granted that education standards are not even in these universities or even desirable across the board, but they do provide some level of higher education and what is required is improvement not cutting off access for the majority of the country’s youth. Having taught for 16 years at QAU, I know the difference the access to even this limited education made to the lives of those from the far-flung corners of the country who gained admission on the quota system. Incidentally, what was the HEC demanding? Rs 15 billion and the government has committed Rs 30 billion for the Steel Mills to rescue it from the mess greedy individuals have created!
What the Shaikh-Haq team is seeking is a nightmare for anyone concerned with the future of Pakistan. There comes a time when hard decisions must be made and it is time we cut the IMF-US chord, sent their Tweedledum and Tweedledee back to their US egg nests and looked inwards to our indigenous demands and solutions.
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