Pakistan warned of increasing vulnerability


The speakers at a seminar in Washington, urged the US to help Pakistan rebuild its ailing economy….reports Asian Lite News

Speakers at a seminar on US-Pakistan relations argued that increasing vulnerability will force Pakistan deeper into debt. The speakers urged the US to help Pakistan rebuild its ailing economy, Pakistan-based Dawn reported.

The seminar, organised jointly by the Wilson Centre, Washington, and the International Academy of Letters (IAL), USA, tried to explore how to promote US- Pakistan relations after the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. Speakers stressed the need to transform the security-oriented relationship between the two countries into an economic and trade partnership beneficial for both, according to Dawn.

Professor Hassan Abbas who teaches international relations at the National Defence University, Washington, said: “The traditional military-to-military ties are just one pillar of the relationship.”

“We cannot build a relationship on one pillar only. A partnership needs to cover all key aspects, trade, education, health, culture,” he said.

He pointed out that even the security partnership should go beyond military-to-military ties. “A country’s security includes law enforcement, criminal justice, narcotics control, economic security, and social protections,” he said.

One of the sessions focused on the role the Pakistani diaspora in the US can play in promoting US-Pakistan relations, Dawn reported.

Dawn recently reported that Pakistan has made progress in its intellectual property (IP) legislation, but more needs to be done, the United States said in its report.

In its new report, the United States Trade Representative acknowledged that Pakistan has made progress but much needs to be done regarding intellectual property enforcement.

USTR released its 2023 special report on intellectual property protection and enforcement on Wednesday. In the report, USTR kept Pakistan on the ‘watch list’ for 2023 while acknowledging that the country “maintained a positive dialogue with the US on intellectual property matters and promoting IP protection and enforcement”.

The report stated that Pakistan was amending its IP laws and encouraged the government to seek stakeholders’ input on draft laws.

Largest recipient of ADB loans

Pakistan has become the largest recipient of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded programmes/projects in the year 2022, reported Pakistan Today.

According to the ADB Annual Report 2022, released on Monday, out of total disbursement of over USD 31.8 billion to 40 countries, Pakistan received loans of USD 5.58 billion. Pakistan is in a deep economic crisis and out of the total lending of USD 5.58 billion, Pakistan received concessional funding of USD 2.67 billion from the bank last year.

However, these loans have been used by Pakistan to avert default. These loans were conditional on Pakistan obtaining loans from the IMF, which imposed its own conditionalities, reported Pakistan Today.

One issue has been that loans have not been used to finance projects which could raise revenue and pay off the loans; in recent times, debt has been incurred to pay off previous debt.

The idea is to keep Pakistan from defaulting, and thus keep open access to foreign money markets. That access is needed to borrow more to meet loan repayments.

The report highlighted the region’s vulnerability to climate change as Pakistan was also hit by devastating floods that killed more than 1,700 people, directly affected 33 million people, caused damages in billions of dollars, and worsened an already fragile economic situation, reported Geo News.

One of the most worrisome aspects of the situation is that nobody seems to have a reliable method of resolving the problem. While embezzlement and corruption played a role, it is clear that one reason for incurring the debt.

If multilateral institutions like the IMF and ADB drew back, Pakistan turned to bilateral aid from friendly countries. Now even those countries seem to have grown tired of purring more money into what appears to be a bottomless pit and have tied aid to the IMF giving its loan, reported Pakistan Today.

Moreover, Pakistan’s Parliament has been so prickly about asserting its supremacy in financial matters, to exercise oversight over all borrowing.

Foreign borrowing is treated as a foreign relations issue, and Parliament is patted on the head and told not to bother about it. Even though it will have to shell out vast sums to service that debt, reported Pakistan Today.

Meanwhile, political instability and military interference are leading Pakistan nowhere amid ensuing economic chaos. (ANI)

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