Featured Post

Wake up Now ! جاگو ، جاگو ، جاگو

Wake up Pakistan ! Presently the Muslim societies are in a state of ideological confusion and flux. Materialism, terrorism,...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sovereignty, Economy and Drone Attacks

 One is reminded of the 1955 Cold War satirical novel, The Mouse that Roared, by the Irish-American writer Leonard Wibberley. The story revolves around the tiny European duchy of Grand Fenwick tucked away in the Alps between Switzerland and France. The country proudly retains its pre-industrial economy, which is almost wholly dependent on the production and export of a particular brand of wine. However, an unscrupulous American winery starts making the same wine under a slightly modified brand name, and the economy of Grand Fenwick is crippled. The prime minister accordingly declares war on the US, even though his army is equipped only with bows and arrows. 

The hope was that immediate defeat would soon bring in American largesse, as happened in the case of post-war Germany under the Marshall Plan, and this would enable the little country to rebuild its economy. Through a quirk of fate, the duchy ends up winning the war, and the world’s smallest country becomes a nuclear power but has no use for the bomb! ------------
----------- ------------ ------------
An argument advanced is that drone attacks violate Pakistan’s sovereignty. This needs to be put in perspective. It is widely known that drones have been assigned specific airfields in Pakistan from where they take off and fly along pre-designated routes to the target areas. These flights through Pakistan’s airspace would not be possible without elaborate coordination with the local air-defence authorities. In the words of a former Pakistani air vice marshal, it is in this context that the “ill-informed hype that is expropriated to whip (up) a religious-nationalist frenzy on the violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty” has to be seen. In other words, the country’s sovereignty can hardly be said to have been violated if the drone strikes have occurred with the consent and cooperation of the Pakistani government. 
[Rulers have bartered away the sovereignity to continue their loot and plunder]

Pakistan’s sovereignty has certainly been compromised, but this has nothing to do with drone strikes. It is economic. The government is incurably addicted to a policy of “beg and spend.” Till there is radical reform, the country will remain in the shadow of servitude to foreign donors. The anticipated budget deficit for 2011-2012 is Rs950 billion, or 5.3 percent of the GDP. This is the biggest ever in Pakistan’s economic history and is likely to cross the trillion-rupee mark. The gap is being met by yet more external and internal borrowing as well as by printing more currency notes. In the process, the country would have forfeited whatever little remains of its sovereignty.

After World War II the British economy was shattered. There were severe shortages of food, fuel and all essential commodities. In the harsh winter of 1946, England’s greatest economist, John Maynard Keynes, told his countrymen: “We are a poor nation, and must learn to live accordingly.” This is a lesson that the leadership of Pakistan has never learnt. 

Extracts from 'The mouse that roared' by Iftikhar Murshed, the writer publishes the Criterion quarterly. Email: iftimurshed@ gmail.com