by Zamir Ahmed Awan
Pakistan has currently issued around $95 billion of outstanding foreign currency debt. It is a really huge amount and Pakistan's economy may not be able to sustain such a huge debt burden. Pakistan may even experience difficulties servicing this amount of debt, especially as their exports have been declining over the past few years. The other main source for Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves was the remittances from overseas Pakistanis, but this has also declined for the last few years.
Many of the loans are from the IMF and other Western nations. Pakistan has accessed IMF funds 16 times in the past. Although, we are thankful to the IMF for bailing out Pakistan so many times in the past, as a temporary relief, but, the IMF has failed to address the core issues of Pakistan indebtedness, and the structures have not allowed Pakistan to stand on its own two feet and begin to develop its economy. As the IMF is staffed with highly qualified expert graduates of the world's leading universities, we would have expected more from them. We do respect them and acknowledge their capabilities, but Pakistan worked with the services of the IMF consultants and advisors in the past, but none of them appear to have helped Pakistan in the long term and in a sustainable way.
Usually, the IMF imposes many conditions to curtail expenditures, especially in the development sector and the social sector. As a result, education, health and social sectors suffered a lot. Pakistan could not build dams, could not add electricity generation capabilities and could not up-grade infrastructure etc. As a direct result, Pakistan has faced a severe crisis in the recent years, which has resulted in the shut-down of some industries and a sharp reduction in its exports.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was first proposed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a visit to Pakistan in May 2013.
Most of the early projects have been completed or are near completion. Some of them are already in operation and thus, are already generating revenue. The resulting benefits of these investments to the Pakistan economy will far outweigh the outflows, but the Western media is portraying the CPEC or the Belt and Road initiative as a Chinese tool for creating a debt trap. Let the world know the facts and the Western media must not be allowed to make such false statements and negative publicity.
In fact, China and Pakistan enjoy very strong relations based on equality, mutual respect, non-interference in each other's domestic affairs, supporting each other on regional and international issues, complimenting each other and protecting each other's interests. Our relations are considered as a role model and referred to as an example for diplomatic relations around the world. But some nations may be jealous or cannot understand the mutual respect. Those nations have aggressive intentions and are trying to harm our friendship. However, the relations are based on very strong footings and have a long history.
The author is a sinologist and researcher with the Chinese Studies Center of Excellence, National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. email@example.com