Simple Wisdom: Our forefathers of this pious and noble land had a simple saying: When a person sells the only house he/she owns, the money from the sale does not make this person rich... It simply makes the seller homeless. Simple Advice: When you have a problem, go for the simplest solution The Truth: The fact of the matter is that neither IMF loans nor the World Bank, Friends of Pakistan, the Asian Development Bank, American aid dollars, European euros, Saudi riyals, UAE dirhams, foreign investments, privatisation, a 55 or 155-member federal Cabinet, the begging bowl will resolve Pakistan's present economic and political mess. All of the above, in a proportional part, have pushed the Pakistani masses to the brink of an abyss - a tragedy of colossal dimensions - a continuing siege of the nation caused by political mismanagement and shockingly bad decision-making on national issues by successive governments, now epitomised by the incumbent PPP regime in Islamabad. The Reality: The simple reality is that an IMF bailout and the privatisation plan for national assets, now being sought by the present government in Pakistan, is a recipe for national disaster at an unprecedented scale. The Evidence: Take for example the IMF bailout plan being deliberated now. Examine the terms and conditions of $9.6 billion loan over the next 3 years: a 30 percent cut in defence budget (over 4 years), a reduction of the number of posts entailing pension in government and semi-government departments from 350,000 to 120,000, a mandatory change in tax structure to increase general sales tax by Rs 50 billion, and a mandatory agriculture tax of 7 percent on wheat production and 3.5 percent on other crops. The IMF will have official control on monitoring revenue collection and making changes when it wants, six IMF directors and two World Bank directors will monitor preparation of the federal budget of Pakistan, and amongst several other clauses of the proposed agreement, the Pakistani government will be bound to report all other loans negotiated with other countries (including China) to the IMF 48 hours before signing the funding agreements. More Evidence: Consider the consequences of foreign investments and the sale of national assets through the process of privatisation. Reliable research data on overseas investments of US multi-national corporations has established that for each $1 invested in Third World countries, a net profit of $10 is made and withdrawn. That is a profit rate of 1000 times the amount of investment. This completely obliterates any and all possibilities of an economic uplift of the country in which investment is made. That is how Argentina and the rest of Latin and South America were driven to economic ruin and financial bankruptcy by US multinational corporations. Pakistan (along with Afghanistan and all of the Central Asia) is next in line. Writing on the Wall: It is quite obvious that an IMF loan and privatisation of national assets through foreign investment will be tantamount to a virtual financial, economic and political occupation of this nation. The endgame of this process is to make 164 million Pakistanis subservient to foreign interests, provide donor countries with cheap labour, goods and services, and contribute to the prosperity of the West - a 21st century replica of classical colonialism. Rescue Plan Fundamentals: "The crisis gives an opportunity for real change. We cannot, we must not and don't have the right to fail," said Lula da Silva, the Brazilian President, on the present financial crisis of the Third World. Allegiance: Today's Pakistan should be a land of transformational change and perpetual renewal. We must find homegrown indigenous solutions to our financial and political crisis. The need of the hour is to espouse a self-reliant, self-developed, self-sustained, self-induced economic recovery and an independent political outlook that would liberate us from the excesses of global financial institutions, such as the IMF and World Bank, and free us from the clutches of foreign corporate investment and their unfair policies. Rescue Plan 1: The Pakistani political establishment (Parliament and Senate) needs to initiate a dynamic process to resolve the current financial crisis. Step 1: In this process, it needs to undertake a massive campaign to encourage overseas Pakistanis to transfer their foreign currency deposits into nationally-owned banks in Pakistan. Step 2: The Parliament must pass a law giving constitutional guarantees to full and absolute safeguards of these deposits. Collateral protection, such as legally verifiable ownership (equal to the amount of deposit) of government- owned real estate developments, should be planned in all major cities in the country and be located in the areas conducive to gainful increase in value over time. Step 3: The bank must pledge a comparatively high rate of interest on these deposits payable on a quarterly basis and subject to transfer at the will of the depositor (overseas as well as to any other bank in the country.) Step 4: The Parliament needs to create a new federal department of Overseas Pakistani Investors Corporations (OPIC). Rescue Plan 2: The OPIC shall have the exclusive responsibility to plan and develop the agriculture-based sector (along with agriculture-related industry) in the country. Fundamentals 1: Each OPIC entity shall have a membership of 2000 shareholders with an equal investment of Rs 25 lakhs each (a total investment of Rs 5 billion in a single corporation). Twenty-five lakh rupees equals US$31,250 at the present rate of exchange. Given the number of Pakistanis working abroad, this is a conceivable target. At least 10 projects shall be planned for the first phase of this scheme. Fundamentals 2: Each OPIC entity shall be endowed with government-owned agriculture land free of cost. Fundamentals 3: Each shareholder in the OPIC shall be entitled to an equal dividend based on the net profit earning of the OPIC unit (this shall be in addition to the interest payable by the bank to each depositor.) Rescue Plan Ideology: OPIC projects planning shall be based on the following fundamentals: (1) To provide massive relief to the general public by large-scale farming of wheat, rice, and dairy products, (2) Another sector shall harvest agriculture products such as corn and sugarcane that can also be used for industrial purposes, (3) Wind and solar power shall be used in OPIC projects as an alternative source of power-generation, (4) The production of wind mills and solar-power panels shall be done locally and shall be a part of OPIC industrial projects directly related to the development of the agriculture sector. (5) Each OPIC unit shall be managed by professionals and trained staff, and (6) The management and the workforce of each OPIC unit shall be provided with modern housing (workers' villages), schools, medical care, child care, health facilities, recreational facilities, transportation and necessary infra-structure. Certainty: This "Rescue Plan" in its present simplistic outline is a diagnostic as well as a remedial solution for the ailing present-day Pakistan. The ideological nucleus of this plan is rooted in the revolutionary transformation of Pakistan from the Western model of pure capitalism (both in elite governance and economic planning) to what the Venezuelan President Chavez calls "a swing toward humanitarianism" and the Chinese term as the gradual peaceful awakening from a slumber to self-reliance and socialist (humanitarian) planning for national reconstruction. Without such transformation "from a slumber to self-reliance," Pakistan is bound to be a failed state - that is a given certainty. Co-existence: This "Rescue Plan" need not invoke a "fear syndrome" in the present commercial and industrial circles in the country. Indeed, Pakistan's existing private and urban commercial enterprise system can co-exist with a visionary plan of innovative development in the agriculture sector and state planned industrial expansion complementing agricultural projects. But, that will require systemic improvisation, innovative policy-making, planning of a new national banking structure, integrity and commitment to the objectives of the "Rescue Plan," and above all, a determination to serve the interests of people over "self-interests" of the ruling elite. Role Models: Of course, in spirit of "being role models," the ruling elite, politicians, businessmen and everyone else who is holding sizeable accounts in overseas banks can transfer these deposits to Pakistani banks. Wouldn't that save the country from IMF financial and political occupation? Indeed, it would. Indeed, our forefathers were right in advising us not to be "homeless" people by our follies... Our preference should be for the simplest and fairest solution to our national problematics. The IMF, World Bank, and foreign investments offer complexity, dependence, occupation, control, backwardness and an ugly foreign patronage of pathetically unfair deals The questions are: Are we imbeciles? Are we slavish? Are we an incompetent lot? Have we lost all sense of respect and dignity? And above all, why should we accept dependence over independence, occupation over self-rule, indignity over dignity...and such outrageous unfairness of global financial institutions? Lula da Silva, the Brazilian President, at a moment of visionary brilliance pleaded, "The crisis gives an opportunity for real change... (We) don't have the right to fail." Will Pakistan fail? Ask Imran Khan - he will tell you that with present so-called democratic dispensation, it will... I tend to agree with him... Do you? The writer is a professor, political analyst and a conflict-resolution specialist. E-mail: hl_mehdi@hotmail.com