Azam Khalil He who will not economise will have to agonise. Confucius The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman, Salman Siddique, is a man of few words, but he chose to go public about what had been known for quite some time i.e. the poor state of Pakistans economy. However, he corrected the notion that the current amount of loans borrowed by the Government of Pakistan is Rs140 billion and not Rs500 billion. At the same time, the Chairman may have erred on the wrong side when he declared that the government is facing unannounced economic emergency. This part of his statement smacks of political undertones, and thus someone should take him to task for exceeding the accepted charter that is available to any FBR Chairman. But this does not mean that the government should reject whatever he has said. Surely, it will be a mistake if proper attention is not paid to the sound economic proposals he has presented. For example, he rightly proposed that ban should be imposed on the government from borrowing loans from the State Bank of Pakistan, and that its (the governments) policy of providing bailout packages to various sectors should be reviewed. Also, Siddique was correct when he raised alarm bells telling all and sundry that it would not be appropriate to expect anyone to come forward from abroad and provide a bailout package for the restoration of Pakistans economy. Hence, he suggested that all those who are eligible to pay taxes must come forward and discharge their responsibility to the state. Nevertheless, he failed to point out that Musharrafs regime not only fabricated the economic indicators, but also kept on postponing important economic decisions because they were borrowing heavily from the State Bank and indulging in other financial indiscipline, which led the nation into the present economic mess. In the same vein, the Chairman failed to provide the facts and figures that would have clearly indicated the burden currently being endured by Pakistan and its economy due to the expenditures incurred by Islamabad on USAs war on terror. It is easy to talk about economic emergency, however, it is important to know that the floods resulted in the loss of nearly $12 billion worth of exports and about Rs160 billion of damage done to the infrastructure in Pakistan. Here it is pertinent to point out that Asif Ali Zardari before he became the President had referred to the hard economic times for Pakistan. Despite this, no concrete efforts were made by the planners for the formulation and implementation of financial and economic policy, which could have relieved some of the burden that the economy is bearing today. So he should blame no one, except his government. Another factor that is responsible for retarding economic growth is increasing corruption in the state-run institutions. It is the duty of the government to put in place accountability laws that are not only fair and transparent, but also act as a deterrent against those who are not afraid to go to jail. Besides this, political compulsions of a coalition also retard economic progress. For this, a broad-based consensus is required and it is now accepted by the PPP-led government that the initiative taken by PML-N Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif will help it to achieve some of its goals. Certainly, the 10-point agenda will provide some comfort to the countrys economy in the long run. But the real problem is how to set the economic house in order, which continues to totter along the deathline. One is amazed that while the government is being asked to take tough decisions and cut its non-development expenditures, sadly a significant number of people keep on clamouring for a pay raise to cope with the current inflationary trends in Pakistan. Therefore, it will be prudent if the politicians sit together and try to resolve the economic issues facing the country. At present, unfortunately, Pakistan has been burdened by the so-called war on terror to a point where it has become inevitable for our security forces to go after the insurgents, who are actually a product of the US foreign policy. Hence, it is time for Islamabad to review its foreign policy and adopt a more aggressive posture, especially after concrete evidence has emerged that one of Indias extremist organisation - Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) - is actively involved in acts of terror on its soil, for which the leadership in New Delhi and Washington had tried to pin responsibility on Pakistan. Keeping in view the dangers posed by Hindu extremists in South Asia, it is important that the Indian adm-inistration abandon its support for the insurgents in Balochistan and elsewhere. Meanwhile, America should pressurise India for a possible solution to the Kashmir dispute. This will also help to release some of the funds that are now perennially tied with the unresolved issues between Pakistan and India, mainly for the public sector, which will help alleviate the sufferings of the poor on both sides of the border. Anyway, to achieve economic progress in Pakistan, it will be in the fitness of things if the government takes some visible belt-tightening measures before it demands sacrifices from its people. While the government has no control over the pricing structure of fuels, which is governed by the international market, it must at least control its non-development spendings and put in place a simpler lifestyle for the ministers and other high profile functionaries, who are living a luxurious life that undoubtedly creates fissures in our society. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: