Jalees Hazir The appointment of Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh as Finance Advisor to the Prime Minister is bad news for the people of Pakistan. It is a clear indication that the government intends to continue within a paradigm that might suit the international financial institutions but offers no hope for millions poisoned by their recipes. His resume that boasts of high-powered positions in the World Bank, billion-dollar companies and the Musharraf Cabinet is actually the strongest testimony against his ability to turn things around. For that, Pakistan needs someone who has the courage and vision to redefine what economic management means, someone who could rescue it from the jugglery of numbers and projections of prosperity that somehow never trickle down to those who most deserve it. Of course, it would be nave to expect the present PPP government thriving in the exploitative status quo to bring in such a revolutionary knight for the job. Interestingly, around the time of Dr Sheikhs appointment, another member of the Musharraf Cabinet adopted by the present government, State Minister for Finance & Economic Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, informed us that $12 billion had been added to Pakistans debt in the past two years. She did not mention that despite this additional burden on Pakistanis, life had become harder for them, that the additional debt in fact was directly responsible for the inflation eating into their shoe-string budgets. It is no secret that the rising rates of utilities and oil that in turn affect every other commodity under the sun, are the never-ending pounds of flesh that the debtors extract for the billions they lend. And that is not all. The evil sisterhood of International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and their extended clan of big multinational corporations, has been thoroughly exposed and discredited. The positive but hollow words of helping the poor developing countries are the cover these financial institutions use for making inroads into fragile economies and crippling them, levelling the ground for the interests of those who pay their salaries and provide them the capital for arm-twisting. The more the poor countries borrow, the more they become dependent on their dole, fashioning crucial economic policies according to their diktat. And as weve seen on many occasions, it doesnt stop there. Governments of the so-called developed countries, who mostly act as touts for their billion-dollar companies and work closely with the evil sisters, use them as tools to influence decision-making in other domains as well. One has to be either blind or on the payroll of these greedy global actors not to see this dangerous nexus at work, all for grabbing other peoples resources and the accumulation of more and more capital. The irony is that this daylight robbery continues unabated. But we know how. Over the years, the donors have cultivated a whole network of public functionaries and public representatives who are convinced of their helplessness and need. They tell us that without loans from these odious institutions, and other related multi-lateral arrangements, it is not possible to run the affairs of the country. They jump at accepting whatever the new imperialists have to offer without ascertaining the need or feasibility of these loans, their personal interests inter-twined with their benefactors. A dispassionate analysis of what is funded by these loans will make it clear that most of it does not have any positive impact on the people of Pakistan but only goes to sustain the same segment of our society that is convinced of our helplessness and the need for more and more loans. This privileged ruling elite, the present-day collaborators, is crucial to the advancement of the donors agenda, and is unlikely to come up with any homegrown solutions to improve the lives of Pakistanis. Since the evil sisters depend on pliant governments in developing countries to further their agenda so they ensure that the person at the other end of the table negotiating the next tranche of loans speaks their language. In that perspective the choice of Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh as Finance Advisor is perfect: steeped as he is in the jargon and financial jugglery of his fellow financial wizards. It might not be smooth sailing for them though. The patently anti-poor framework pushed by the former employers of the new advisor is bursting at the seams. Recent incidents of violent protests reported from Rawa-lpindi and Islamabad are an indicator of how far the proverbial common man has been pushed. Sparked by an increase in the fares of public transport, the protests were dubbed by the government as politically engineered. Even if that were the case, though candid interviews of the protestors presented a totally different picture, the government should wake up from its deep slumber and illusions of all-is-well-and-getting-better reports. If such a large number of people can be convinced, even paid, by opposition parties or 'hidden hands to take such extreme measures, it signifies an excessive sense of deprivation. Similar protests are becoming more numerous elsewhere in the country as well. The protests indicate rising frustration among the people who see vulgar display of wealth and luxury of the ruling elite at a time when an increase of a few rupees in their expenditure threatens their already frugal lifestyles. The tendency on part of a growing number of people to engage in violent protests across the country point at a state of affairs where more and more people see less and less stakes in the system. They see no point in preserving a system that is insensitive to their just and very meagre needs. In the present context, the management of economy will have to amount to more than negotiating the next IMF tranche and must address the logical demands and expectations of a growing number of Pakistanis who see their government failing in its duty to work for their welfare. After meeting his new advisor, the prime minister said Dr Sheikhs appointment will send a strong signal to the investors, business and trade circles about the governments commitment to economic reforms, financial management and growth that is beneficial for all. At this juncture, the prime minister should perhaps be more concerned about sending the right signal to a large majority of Pakistanis that see themselves being cheated out of a dignified existence. The writer is a freelance columnist.