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Like clockwork. As reports of pledges began to trickle in from Geneva, Pakistani policymakers and commentators began cautious celebration – like Israelites being delivered from their forty years in the wilderness. By the time these pages hit the press, Pakistan’s delegation was bringing home $10 billion+ in commitments, exceeding targeted financial assistance for post-flood reconstruction. ‘Are Pakistan’s immediate term balance of payment woes over?’, whispered many with disbelief. Is it time to break out the proverbial champagne - that is - roll out the red carpet of an expansionary fiscal bonanza?

Before answering that question, an important segue. The nervous nail-biting by Pakistan’s intelligentsia over the fate of Geneva pledges betrays a sense of desperation. A desperation that has infected both the policymakers and the larger public like an epidemic. If the speeches at yesterday’s conference are any guide, the global community to recognize Pakistan’s problem. Unfortunately, the problem appears to most delegates was not the plight of climate victims, but a drug addict’s need for his next fix.

As impressive as the $10 billion roped in at the conference might appear, Pakistan’s thinly veiled attempt to use the post-flood ‘opportunity’ to bail itself out of the dollar crisis is evident to the donor community. The prime minister used the forum to plead with the IMF, asking the Fund to “have some heart”.It seems neither the Fund nor the world is buying it.

As realization sank in, a last-ditch attempt was made to rebrand the conference from building “climate resilience” to contributing to “reconstruction and rehabilitation”.All hands were on board to play up the humanitarian angle and urgency for aid (read: dollars), instead of securing longer commitments to help build resilience against the effects of climate change. Pakistan’s prime minister, for example, declared that the way out of the catastrophe was “rapid economic growth”, an anathema to climate activists seeking to transform traditional development models. Similarly, the finance minister urged the need for budgetary support and fiscal space, ‘so that commitments to IMF could be honored’ – then went on press the development partners for everything from “debt swaps” to “external debt sustainability”; anything, but long-term treatment.

But if the world didn’t buy it, why would the commitments meet – nay, exceed the target? Consider the following advice from the UK’s secretary of state for International Development, who reportedly urged Pakistan to “swiftly conclude the 9th review of the IMF program to build confidence among partners… that Pakistani taxpayers are seen playing a core part in this effort”.

As the sun set in Geneva, the cautious celebration gave way to muted melancholy back home. Policymakers and commentators realized that dollars weren’t going to flood in after all, at least not like Zia’s war or Coalition Support Fund.

As the eighth most vulnerable country to climate change, Pakistan had asked the world to help build resilience against future disasters. That entails capacity building and a transformation of governance structures, not financing another fiscal stimulus to boost cement and steel demand under the pretense of flood victims’ rehabilitation. In fact, the global community has kept its end of the bargain. Now, it is up to Pakistan to live up to hers.

But that would mean signing up for rehab to address our strongly rooted ways, for which we are simply not ready. Dangerously enough, the world knows it too.


Comments are closed.

Truthisbitter813 Jan 10, 2023 09:57am
Arguably the worst piece of horseradish to come out of business recorder in a long time. If Pakistan were to not build up its economy, where prey-tell would it be able to perform the necessary capacity building? If Pakistan is not allowed to provide relief to the masses due to debt covenants, how would it be able to bring back a sustainable livelihood to its people who are already literally drowning? Pointless, factually incorrect, cynical, and arguably unnecessary piece.
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Fayyaz Baqir Jan 10, 2023 11:25am
What is our policy direction? We had sought Friends not Masters in 1958. Have we officially abandoned that dream?
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Lol Jan 10, 2023 03:18pm
@Truthisbitter813, so we should receive $10bn, redirect those funds to Supreme Leader Speedy and Mr. Daracula to use in any way to save political face? Do u SERIOUSLY believe those funds would be used to pay of debts AND help flood victims? You dear are deluded and probably high. Also debt covenants have build up because of our own faults - how would another inflow solve the intrinsic problem?? Think before writing
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Adnan Jan 10, 2023 07:01pm
@Truthisbitter813, Here comes another criminal apologist. The rulers have a 45 year proven history of 1) looting any aid funds multiple times, 2) Have not offered a single reform to fix the economy, instead are looking for free handouts to spur an election campaign while sitting in the military's lap. Truth is bitter you criminal.
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TimeToMovveOn Jan 10, 2023 07:30pm
@Truthisbitter813, The key piece is that Pakistan is like a drug addict--it uses anything and everything to secure free money from the world. It has never learned to stand up on its own feet. The chances of using climate funds to rebuild the economy are zero. Pakistan does not have the proper leadership to use it wisely. Recall that you guys purchased 1/2 billion dollars or F16 parts right in the middle of biblical floods and are importing BMWs now (today) while raw materials for textile exporters are stuck in the ports. This $10 billion will be mismanaged, the elite and the army will get rich, and the general public will be left with loans and interests. Learn your history first; otherwise, you are bound to re-live it. I guess you are.
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TimeToMovveOn Jan 10, 2023 07:30pm
@Truthisbitter813, Recall the Dam fund? What happened to it.
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HashBrown® Jan 10, 2023 08:27pm
The people who are spewing rage at Truthisbitter813 have completely misunderstood her/his point. The fact of the matter is that Geneva was a success for the government, who set out to acquire a mechanism for compensating climate-vulnerable countries with cash. There's no point whining about that money being frittered away on corruption and kickbacks - even if that's true, it doesn't invalidate the fundamental concept of heavier polluting countries compensating lesser polluting ones. Is it the UN's job to increase our national tax net? Should the ADB be reforming our police in order to reduce our problem of elite capture? Those are domestic issues, and that's an entirely separate conversation. I'm a PTI voter (albeit a reluctant one, for lack of any alternative), and I'm guessing that the people who are criticising Truthisbitter813 are PTI voters too - the typical fanatical types who would happily watch Pakistan burn if IK is denied the kursi. That's the main cause of the venom here.
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HashBrown® Jan 10, 2023 11:00pm
@TimeToMovveOn, "Learn your history first; otherwise, you are bound to re-live it. I guess you are." If I recall correctly, Modi was sending boxes of substandard vaccines with his face on them to all parts of Africa while in his own country your funeral pyres were melting from the sheer number of Covid fatalities being cremated. Try owning your national embarrassments first before dishing out sermons across your borders.
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Arbaz Jan 10, 2023 11:18pm
@HashBrown®, In reality, PTI is the worst of all and they have proved that within their tenure and after the end of their tensure..Again, I am reluctant supporter of pmln due to no alternatives and cant believe in fantasy speech which is IK speciality, instead focused on real past data.. There are so much hatred right now that our pakistanis brother want pakistan to burn under pmln so that they be right about them..Very Sad reality.
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