Pakistan is going through one of the worst economic crisis of its history. Though the government is trying its best to bail the country out, the prospects look bleak. The way foreign exchange reserves are dwindling at an alarming rate of almost a billion dollars a month, the conditions might worsen further in the near future. Some fear that we might not have enough to meet even our regular import bill of oil and petro-chemicals so crucially needed for the industry and automation. This could in turn snowball into a vicious circle and affect the production, employment and exports - causing further loss of revenue and increase in poverty. Such a dire situation leaves us with no choice but to embark upon a bowl-in-hand begging mission, which is precisely what is being done by the President, the PM and the Advisor on Finance. The much-trumpeted consortium of fifteen or so 'Friends of Pakistan' have already put their hands up due to the fact that they themselves are cash-strapped. They say they can only proffer aid in kind. China, our time-tested best friend is the only one who has promised some 400 millions dollars. But money required is a minimum of 4.5 billion dollars in the next thirty days. The ADB, the World Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and the dreaded IMF " notorious for its excruciating terms and conditions " are the last vestiges of hope for survival of the 7th largest state of the world. -COL (Retd) RIAZ JAFRI, Rawalpindi, via e-mail, October 23.