I write in connection with your recent editorial on the re-emergence of inflationary pressures in the Pakistan economy. Inflation is a subject close to my heart because it has been called 'the cruelest tax of all that affects the poorest and most vulnerable sections of society the most. While the recent upturn in inflation has many causes, some of which you do mention in your editorial, it seems you attribute most of these to the IMF program. This is disingenuous. It may be recalled that when Pakistan turned to the IMF, inflation was soaring and had reached a peak of 26 per cent per annum, a level never seen before in our 62 years economic history. The IMF program, or, as I prefer to call it, the government of Pakistans economic program endorsed by the IMF, has helped bring the inflation down, not push it up. It dropped steeply from the staggering rate mentioned above to close to single figures. Given how inflation and inflation expectations tend to be well-entrenched, breaking its forward momentum is never an easy task. The fact that Pakistan has managed to at least stop its rise is really quite remarkable. True, inflation has now started going up again. This is largely due to the pass-through effect of recent adjustments in the administered prices. The key requirement of macroeconomic policies is not to let this pass-through effect of prices become self-propelling but limit it to a 'one-time jump in prices. Provided we keep a steady hand on our fiscal and monetary policies, inflation should quickly subside and might even be in single digits. There is plenty of empirical evidence to support this expectation. As callous as it may sound, this pass-through price adjustment is a bullet we have to bite. No country, least of all Pakistan, can sustain large, burdensome and open-ended subsidies in its fiscal accounts that would not, in the end entail a pass-through scenario. If this pass-through had not been allowed, the subsidies would have swelled the fiscal deficit which, in turn, would have caused more inflation. What Pakistan needs is social safety nets that protect the poor in times of high inflation or an economic slowdown when employment falls. I find it astonishing that we do not have social safety nets even after 62 years. -DR MEEKAL. A. AHMED, Virginia, February 12