Mr Kerry, Mr. Lugar?… No thanks!

October 3, 2009

Atif F Qureshi | PakistanKaKhudaHafiz.com

When you subsidize something, you get more of it, regardless of whether it is good or bad. It is a method of control, and it is what the government does with certain sectors of the economy that it wants to manipulate. But in another sense, it is also possible for one country to subsidize another. Through the practice of foreign aid, one nation can influence and even control the internal practices of another very effectively, especially if that country is relatively weaker and poorer. It is par for the course in international relations and has been done for thousands of years. By systematically lavishing aid and protection, powerful nations can compel others to surrender their inherent independence and become indentured to a pseudo-colonial master.

This dependence is often voluntary and often there is no military coercion involved. Quite simply, it temporarily suits the interests of the leaders on both sides. But as Shakespeare said, “Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.” If the donors intentions are malign, then little good comes of their aid, no matter how generous they are.  Indeed, foreign aid keeps a recipient country on a tight leash, and by threatening to withdraw aid, or indeed withdrawing it, a master nation can extract their pound of flesh by forcing compliance on various issues that are aligned with their own interests.

Not all aid is bad. Occasionally, when there is a major natural disaster and help must be rushed to the scene, it is very helpful for neighbouring countries to contribute out of a spirit of human compassion and solidarity. But general and long term aid, designed to prop up corrupt regimes and ailing economies is far less welcome. As the case of Pakistan has aptly demonstrated, the effects can be debilitating for the recipient. Even good intentions on the part of donor nations can frequently lead to unintended bad consequences.

If only we would take tough choices and an independent line. If only we did what was right in the sole interests of our sovereignty and people. Yet it seems that the ‘brown sahib’ culture of servility was not eradicated after the overthrow of British rule. Unfortunately, while we wax lyrical about our independent sovereign status and take national holidays to celebrate it, we have merely replaced one colonial master with another: namely our ally, the United States. There have been no surrender ceremonies with be-medalled generals signing to and witnessing to their defeat, this surrender has come about slowly and surreptitiously.

Although America has spread its influence throughout the world, it has seen Pakistan in particular as a key nation of great strategic value. Pakistan has been seen for decades as a vital player that must be co-opted to serve American interests. America directly stations troops and bases in neighbouring countries and controls them through puppet regimes, but although it has no troops on Pakistani soil that either it or our government would admit to, our leaders cannot help but dance to the whims of puppet masters in Washington. In spite of the claimed ‘alliance’, American forces regularly trespass onto Pakistani territory and violates our hard won sovereignty with impunity, murdering innocent Pakistani civilians and inflaming militancy and insurgencies. But the most tragic loss for us is the loss of our self respect and dignity.

The influence of Washington casts a long shadow that stretches to the corridors of power in Islamabad. This has been achieved through tens of billions of dollars of military and economic aid gifted to successive Pakistani regimes. Our inept leadership has always welcomed these cash-laden briefcases. Following the economic failures of successive governments that have left millions mired in poverty and no effective civic society, the quality of political and moral leadership in our nation has always been inadequate. This coupled with seething ethnic tensions, wilful foreign enemies and erupting insurgencies, has led weak Pakistani leaders to cower in the shade of allies wherever they could find them.

Although ‘imperially overstretched,’ as America now is, there is no nation more amenable. Any excuse will do. Whether it is the spurious ‘global war on terror’ or ‘war on drugs’, our leaders are always eager to play the game. After all the profligacy, when the national treasury is spent, and no further blood can be squeezed out of the stone, there is always the line of credit that leads to Washington. Unable to govern effectively, unpopular leaders have too often extended their hands for foreign support; often only in the interests of their own personal self preservation. But no credit could be more costly. How shameful that we should be reduced to begging and kowtowing to the same nation that mercilessly and unapologetically murders and imprisons our citizens under the guise of the so-called ‘war on terror’? How much further can we fall from the dignity and honour of our illustrious forefathers?

We often demand respect from others and yet we have precious little respect for ourselves. Rather than acting in an honourable, upright fashion, we prefer to strike Faustian bargains with criminals and moral degenerates who have no respect for the dignity of human life and thus kill and murder our fellow Muslims all over the world with scarcely a second thought. What would Allama Iqbal, that colossus among men, think of our present predicament? I suspect he would be gravely disappointed that we have gone so far in selling our dignity for a few measly shekels. It is about time that we recognised friend from foe.

It is important to understand that American interests in the Pakistani state are permanent and not conditional or transient. Although America claims to champion freedom, the rule of law and its brand of democratic rule, the reality is that it will support any regime that serves its purposes in maintaining its hegemony, or as its apologists put it, ‘regional and international stability’. It might be useful if the Americans were more selective in the regimes they favoured. If they supported those Pakistani leaders that espoused vital reforms to improve the condition of the people it would be a good thing. But that will never happen.

The very last thing America would want is a resurgent, stable and powerful Pakistan – the Zionist elements amongst the American elite would never countenance it. Zionist policy has always been to neutralise potentially powerful Muslim nations by any means necessary, even if it means buying them off. Egypt, Saudia Arabia and Iraq are prime examples. But regardless of their intent, the fate of Pakistan surely cannot be left to depend on which direction the winds may blow in Washington, London and Tel Aviv.

Used primarily as an instrument of control and coercion, foreign aid from America and American dominated agencies such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank distort our national economy and prop up bad governance. Even if some of it is well-intentioned, it rarely reaches the people who need it, as it is often absorbed by many layers of bureaucracy and corrupt officialdom. When keeping oppressive governments in power, it breeds understandable resentment among the populace.

But all governments need to have sources of income. Government expenditures financed by interest based loans or the printing presses merely distort the economy and create insidious inflation. The only truly legitimate source of State revenue is taxation. This makes the government accountable to the people and the people alone. When it accepts foreign aid, the government displaces its priority of serving the people with gratitude to the generous donor. But what if the interests of the donor and the people do not coincide? Looking at our history, leaders with a sense of national loyalty and patriotism have been few and far between. No cynicism here, just reality. More often than not, when interests clash, the regime will naturally tend to favour its foreign benefactor.

When this aid is spent, it often comes with caveats. These conditions mean that they cannot be spent where they are actually needed. A beaurocracy under the guise of ‘checks and balances’ leads to much of the expenditure being channelled through contracts with the donor nations own organisations. So in reality, foreign aid is sometimes merely an opaque mechanism for a donor nation to subsidise and support its own domestic companies and interests operating abroad. What use is such aid?

It is time to face facts. Pakistan has received aid to the tune of many billions of dollars from many countries since its creation. Can anyone reasonably argue that this has materially benefited the majority of the people? It is only good governance that matters, and this is why the blame lies with us. We have failed to govern ourselves properly and have thus had to resort to prostituting our sovereignty to foreign nations who only wish to subjugate us and prevent our ascendance. This foreign ‘assistance’ has done incalculable harm, fortifying an elite class in power who wallow shamelessly in corruption and high treason.

Charity and aid from foreign private individuals and organisations is fine, but aid from other governments should be politely refused. Often the excuse is made that the country is strapped of money and investment. But that pitiful excuse is solely down to the socialist and interventionist tendencies of the regimes in power. With a failed State education system, a harsh business climate, and a maze-like bureaucratic process, there is little wonder that people fail to see the rewards of investing in our country. There are too few rewards in doing so!

Foreign aid is often billed as a catalyst to jumpstart economic development. But that is equally ridiculous. Only sound economic policies can do such a thing. Any government that liberalised and deregulated the economy, set its entrepreneurs free, and lowered taxes would naturally attract much more in foreign private investment than any foreign donor could possibly send in assistance packages. Foreign aid does not create prosperity but distorts internal markets and props up inefficient companies and corrupt elites. It is a great tool for foreign governments to buy political allegiances and sway policies, but it does little or nothing for the people. It is time for us to abandon this ludicrous inferiority complex and re-declare our independence. Pakistan is an Islamic Republic. We place our trust solely in Allah. He is enough for us.

Atif F Qureshi  PKKH Editorial Team and www.PakDestiny.net



  1. Great Article Atif!! You are a skilled writer. Good going!

  2. Great stuff Atif bhai

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