Coupled with several other weaknesses of our nation, the instinct for carrying a begging bowl has played a crucial role in portraying a wrong, in fact highly degraded, image of Pakistan among the international community. Lets analyse a few situations indicative of our national character. We have been constantly appealing for financial assistance for the 20 million flood-affected victims of 2010. However, most of them need help for a limited period of time and would soon be in a position to stand on their own feet, while some need help for the construction of their houses and, therefore, might take more time and may require more financial help. So the question is, can the rest of the 160 million people come out and support these flood victims? Yes, they can, but first political leaders must take exemplary steps, as they are more resourceful than the common man. Many countries have been hit by natural disasters, like tsunamis, earthquakes, cyclones, etc, but how many of them have taken to the bowl? The tarnished image of our self-respect has led our close friends to distance themselves from us. For instance, Pakistans relations with China, which used to be our sincere friend and once moved its army on the Indian border for us, have deteriorated due to our poor image to such an extent that they have supported the proposal for Indias permanent membership in the UNSC. Beijing has not even suggested that India should first respect the UN resolutions on Kashmir. Another example of note is that, according to an estimate, Pakistan has suffered a loss of over $50 billion after it was dragged unduly in the so-called war on terror. It is most unfortunate that this happened with General (retd) Pervez Musharafs generous obedience to a telephone call he had received from President George Bush. Then, in a talk show aired on a private television channel, the participants belonging to the ruling elite ridiculously insisted that the Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) is not going to affect the common man. Unfortunately, they did not realise that new taxes would play havoc with the lives of the masses, who were already burdened with various taxes and have to bear the burden of a high cost of living. These participants did not realise that the Government of Pakistan can more appropriately raise the required revenue through honest application of direct taxes on the privileged classes, especially the jagirdars. It is true that the government should have enough resources at least for key sectors like education, health, infrastructure, etc, apart from its administration and defence needs. For this, we, according to Islamic teachings, should avoid excessive and unnecessary expenses. Also, the government should play its due role, which is to serve the interest of the masses, and not act as masters lavishly utilising the nations wealth. If the leaders, corrupt officials and businessmen were to bring back they have sacked abroad, all the foreign and local debts could be paid off. And if the revenue generated in the country is rightly utilised, the economy would stand revived, and an era of prosperity would usher in. Recently, our Prime Minister took the beggars bowl to a gathering of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan and demanded that the loans due to the foreign financial agencies, like the World Bank and IMF, be written off. Was there nobody around to tell him that financial relations among the nations were based on some rules? For example, during World War II the miserable situation faced by the British after the German attack is well known; a considerable part of Europe had already been conquered by Hitler. The US (although remaining aloof benefited out of this war) entered into a heavy loan agreement with the British government on an interest payable, which was called Bretton Woods Agreement. Britian wanted the US to give the loan without interest. But America did not agree and due to its constraints the British government was forced to agree on regular interest payments. The famous economist Lord Keynes, who entered into this transaction with the US, while speaking in the House of Lords, said: I would not be able to forget the pain, which I felt when the Americans refused to give us the loan without interest. Therefore, I would earnestly urge our rulers to stop asking for aid. The US should be asked to compensate for the loss of over $50 billion that Pakistans economy has suffered due to its so-called war on terror. Iran is living independently, despite threats from the US. We could do the same. The writer is a freelance columnist.