Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told the Senate on Wednesday that the government would sacrifice either the missile programme or the nuclear weapons programme to get the IMF programme restored. This defiance may have been reassuring in one respect, but it was also making it clear that the IMF, after having forced the government to take all sorts of inflationary steps, which also cost it great political capital in an election year, is backing off on the package, because Pakistan is not willing to compromise on its national security. It should not be forgotten that hardly had the dust settled from the 19978 Pokhran tests, that India started to throw its weight around. It was only after Pakistan engaged in its own nuclear tests that the Indian bullying was dialed down.
Senator Dar also said that the IMF wanted bilateral donors to confirm their commitments. $6 billion are supposed to come from UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. These countries have tied aid to the IMF signing off. If the missile and nuclear programmes are sacrificed at this point, the next step would be to attack Pakistan’s conventional capability, with the IMF already looking to cuts in the defence budget. This should serve as a reminder that national security can only be provided by a strong economy, indeed that without national security, no economy can be strong.
The debate is in a way useless. If Pakistan was indeed denuded of its defences, it would not achieve economic prosperity. It cannot escape notice that the IMF’s Deputy Managing Director, formerly its Chief Economist, is an Indian. Considering how much India pressed that Pakistan be blacklisted by FATF, and in view of how much India dislikes Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programmes, not because of any threat, but because it restrains it from throwing its weight around in the region, it is not hard to guess that the IMF is getting input from India. Instead of helping Pakistan out, the USA, being more concerned with Pakistan’s friend Chins, is also renewing its interest in seeing Pakistan disarmed. The question before the nation is what many suspected it would become: whether Pakistan was to be allowed to exist or not. It should not be forgotten that giving up anything now will not gain Pakistan more than a limited breathing space. Economically too, Pakistan will end up losing our, because India will make even more exploitative terms that it has so far.