SINCE the PPP-led government has taken over, the countrys debt burden has increased by $14.895 billion, according to a Finance Ministry report tabled in Parliament on Monday. The report put Pakistans total foreign debt at $55.216 billion, and showed that its debt to the IMF reached $6.442 billion by September of the current fiscal year, 2009-10, an increase of $ 1.047 billion. The government, during the same time, had paid out $1.182 billion, of which $204.6 million was interest. The report also mentioned the total debt at this point as having reached Rs 810 billion, of which Rs 401 billion was internal debt, for which the government was responsible. National debt has reached 54.1 percent of Gross National Product, or 370 percent of total national resources. The bad news does not stop there. Because of the devaluation of the rupee, foreign debt repayments have meant that Pakistans foreign debt has increased by Rs 587 billion. This is the stark background against which the present government, and the present Finance Minister, have been making their extravagant claims, so much at odds with the inflationary reality that the average Pakistani knows, and which is confirmed by the series of price hikes the government itself has been announcing, like that in POL prices only the day before. The truth is that the PPP government has not been able to come to grips with the economic situation, despite its technocrat Finance Minister, because it is a coalition in which minor coalition partners are busy extracting their pound of flesh by having as many ministers as possible, who then waste the taxpayers money on a luxurious lifestyle. This in turn gives ideas to the PPP ministers, if indeed they needed any excuse. However, the real trap the government needs to escape, is that of the IMF, which is only offering aid because Pakistan is helping the USA, which is allied to Europe, which names the IMF Managing Director, in its War on Terror. The IMF conditionalities, combined with government extravagance, are causing the unchecked growth in debt by a government which never tires of its concern for the poor. While Pakistan might need assistance to tide over the difficulties it may be facing, such assistance should not be at the cost either of the national economy, or of national honour and dignity. As the increase in the debt burden under the PPP-led government shows, turning to the IMF has meant not just the sacrifice of national honour, but a worsening of the national economic situation. Also reflected are both the ineptitude of the economic management team, and the misplaced priorities of the government.