Civil society urges for writing off external debt
Source: Express Tribune
ISLAMABAD: Civil society organisations launched a campaign for the unconditional ‘write-off’ of the external debt of Pakistan, which currently amounts to $54 billion. The announcement was made in a joint press conference held by social activists and members of progressive parties on Monday.
Speaking at the occasion, Aasim Sajjad Akhar, said that the campaign was launched in the wake of the devastating floods that have resulted in unprecedented social and economic loss.
“If the world really wants to help, they should offer grants rather than loans. Considerable portion of Pakistan’s crippling debt should be written off so that we can concentrate on reconstruction,” he said.
The organisers also presented a white paper which gave details of the country’s chronic debt crisis and made a case for the debts to be written off on the basis of international legal norms and recent precedents.
Labelling the debt problem as an endemic, he said, “The debt burden is projected to reach $74 billion by 2014. Pakistan already allocates almost $3.5billion every year to meet its debt obligations and this figure will increase exponentially over the next few years.”
“Flood have taken place on an extremely large scale,” he added. “If immediate relief is not provided in terms of debts, the government will face a complete collapse,” he added.
Moreover, human rights’ activist Dr Farzana Bari was of the view that writing off Pakistan’s debts would also strengthen the democratic process. “It will allow for more resources to be mobilised in order to meet the needs of the common man in the long run.”
“Resources should be allocated to prevent outbreak of famines and diseases,” she said. “Importance should be given to normalise the lives of the flood affected, not reservicing of debts.”
The campaign organisers also announced to hold a rally on September 2, culminating at the parliament, which would be held in conjunction with the special parliamentary session to be convened that day.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2010.