Beggars or borrowers?

January 08, 2020

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CLICHES like kashkol and ‘beggar’s bowl’ as a pejorative in Pakistan’s context are used unthinkingly. Pakistan recently indeed has asked for, and received, cash deposits from Saudi Arabia, China and the UAE, and possibly others too, to bolster its foreign currency reserves.

It pays a negotiated interest, and is obliged to return the principal. To date, Pakistan has not defaulted on its debt obligations ever.

Understandably, we approach first those we feel are likely to be sympathetic and able to assist, and negotiate as favourable terms as possible. This is the usual interaction between commercial borrowers and lenders.

We need good relations with other countries too. When asked for support, we oblige as best as possible, keeping in view our policy constraints. Again, normal.

We also borrow from the International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and in smaller quantities from commercial banks, again on interest, and on negotiated terms.

All countries requiring finances do this. Why then this mindset that belittles ourselves continually for entering into what are normal, commercial transactions?

I. R. Sheikh
Karachi

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2020