Conundrum

Shakil Ahmad

The annual national budget of Pakistan is roughly equivalent to 35 billion US dollars, and compared to this, just one company that I know of, the GMC of America also has an annual turnover of 35 billion. And there are dozens of such companies in the US. Our politicians and (civil and military) bureaucrats are reported to have stashed away US 200 billion dollars offshore. They couldn’t have earned that kind of money by honest means in Pakistan because there is not a single business activity in the country that can yield that much money even over a period of hundred years. So this money must have been stolen from the poor public treasury. From this, you can easily gauge the scale of corruption going on in the country all the time. The recent AGP report about WAPDA having 1000 billion missing in its accounts is just one example. The question is, can this country ever make any progress with such a huge corruption activity carried on by everyone and all holding any kind of authority? The problem is that this corruption does not allow any foreign exchange to enter into the country, and there has always been a deficit in our balance of payment. We have had to beg for dollars from others who then dictate their terms and thus make sure that the country never becomes self-sufficient economically and that corruption rules supreme in all affairs of the country. Thus it becomes a prerequisite for every official who holds high or low power in this country to be corrupt. India has a foreign exchange reserve of US$ 365 billion, Bangladesh has an annual surplus of 5 billion per annum, while our deficit is increasing by at least 5 billion annually. Our reserves are said to be 20 billion, and that too all consisting of loan money. We are thus not the masters of our own sovereignty. Our whole emphasis is on escalation of rupee taxation, again dictated by the lenders, so that no industrial or commercial activity can take off here. The foreigners’ noose around our neck has been getting tighter with passage of each year. We have remained unstable since we were born. Does someone up there at the top realize this serious conundrum facing our country?
—Muzaffargarh

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