THE present PPP government takes credit for the management of the economy even though it is rife with problems, ranging from the fuel and sugar crises to those myriad problems created by loadshedding of various types. However, according to the statistics released by the Finance Ministry, the management has been predicated on taking more foreign loans and thus plunging the country into further debt. The country presently stands at $55.216 billion in debt, as of 30 September, while under the previous government the foreign debt was $40.326 billion, an increase of $14.89 billion. Under the present government, foreign exchange reserves have also declined, from $13.345 to $11.221 billion, a fall of $2.124 billion. The present government may claim that the international economic climate was vitiated by the international banking crisis, but that would be an explanation of what went wrong with the economy, not any sort of support for a claim of achievement. However, the story told by the statistics is of an economy kept afloat by foreign loans. Foreign countries, which merely had to print this money, found helping Pakistan with its government's deficit a small price to pay for its cooperation in the USA's War on Terror, especially since the money given was counted as a loan, and merely made Pakistan more indebted. Meanwhile, the government ministers patted themselves on the back for being splendid economic managers, and continued their freespending ways for themselves and their colleagues. Ministers should never regard state resources as bottomless, and especially not at times like these. Pakistan has got to be brought out of this debt trap, which prevents it from having an independent foreign policy, but this involves sacrifices from classes which are not used to them: politicians and bureaucrats. The end to foreign borrowing will mean that they can no longer afford junkets abroad or other wasteful expenditure on taxpayer's money, but will begin the journey to self-reliance.