Pakistan had every ethical reason to expect an easy ride through the current global economic crisis. The main two reasons were that the crisis was not only not its fault, but it played no role in its making, but it was also on the right side in the War On Terror, However, it has no real economic reasons for special consideration. Therefore, it will depend on the non-economic reasons for assistance, and the crisis not being its fault will not win it any friends, though its being on the American side of the War will win it some consideration. By no means as much consideration as it wants, because it wants $100 billion to not just tide over the coming years, but also so that the government can continue spending as if there is no tomorrow. When the War On Terror started, Pakistan got a debt rescheduling, but that was mainly because Pakistan was near default, and had a foreign debt which it was finding it difficult to service, so the rescheduling was basically meant to enable Pakistan to take on more debt. With the present crisis, again voices are being heard of Pakistan being about an impending default. So all the previous regime headed by Shaukat Aziz managed was a better reputation, which was parlayed into more loans, which the current crisis made difficult to service. Unfortunately, the Pakistan government looked upon the current crisis as an opportunity to make more money. Since the USA has linked its economic support to political support from the countries concerned, Pakistan assumed that it would be among the recipients of American largesse. However, the current crisis is economic, and is more or less the first one involving the USA since the 1970s. It is also one of the first crises that started in the USA itself, rather than starting in Europe and then spreading to the USA, where it would become global, as with the Great Depression, to which the current crisis is often compared. Pakistani policymakers were probably misled into thinking that they could turn a buck or two for their country by the size of the amounts that are being bandied about. The USA itself put together a bailout package worth $700 billion, while France put up 10.5 billion euros ($13.9 billion) for its banks, while Saudi Arabia and the UAE put up about $10 billion into their banking system. In the midst of all this, a bureaucracy which has been sold on the War On Terror as a source of dollars, cannot understand why Pakistan cannot parlay its participation in the War into another source of dollars. The USA wants to link aid to Pakistan to its getting on board on an IMF programme, and apart from Pakistan, wants to save the Ukraine and Iceland. At the same time, there are so many countries of the world's 200 who are looking forward to being saved, if need be by the IMF. Pakistan has already had experience of the IMF, and it was not pleasant. The IMF does not merely prevent the money from being stolen (it merely restricts this to a small scale), but it prevents the government from taking any measures designed to encourage growth. The IMF is supposed to put together a package worth $10 billion to $15 billion spread over the next two fiscal; years, with just over half coming in the form of direct IMF loans, and the rest in the shape of bilateral assistance, including loans from countries which are not lending to Pakistan at the moment. These countries include China, which has declined to give Pakistan a cash loan, and Saudi Arabia, which has not given Pakistan an oil facility, which would involve making payments for oil on a deferred schedule. The current global crisis has spooked the oil-importing Chinese, as well as the exporting Saudis, with the former expecting to pay lots of dollars for the oil they must import, and the latter hoping to receive money for the oil they sell. It must be remembered that Pakistan is very far from being the only country in need of assistance at present. Even before the financial crisis, the Third World which does not have oil, which is most of it, has been screaming. The food shortages have already caused rioting, and the oil-rich nations have been inundated with requests for relief. The IMF prefers countries which have already taken some of the steps necessary for lending. Though the programme a country commits to following before it receives an IMF loan is 'homegrown' in the sense that it is drafted by local officials, it would be a mistake to assume that a single word was not approved in advance by someone from the IMF. The IMF wrought sufficient destruction in its last sojourn over here, and now it wants an end to subsidies. As a result, gas companies are following up the oil shock by a 33 percent hike in their prices from January 01, 2009, to follow-up a similar increase this season, which has already been granted. The protests which are taking place all over the country, over electricity bills, owe themselves to the same cause: the recent hike in tariffs, and the difficulty that consumers foresee in paying. The IMF will not rest until everyone is protesting this way at every bill every month. But so long as they pay, as the IMF wants, it will be happy. Lest there be any question in anyone's mind, the War On Terror will not be interrupted. There are two separate functions at work. On one hand is another of the crises that capitalism has historically been subject to, going back to the era of capitalism that predates American domination. The other dates back formally to 2001, when the World Trade Centre was struck, but has been on as long as capitalists have taken action which serves as a tool for oppressing Muslims, like the catastrophe that struck the Palestinians because of the Western support of Israel. In the first, Pakistan does not figure at all, just as it has not really figured in the various crises that have affected world capitalism since the Great Depression, or even before. In the second, Pakistan figures only because of its geo-strategic location, but thus is crucial to American success. Thus it must be given enough support to avert being engulfed by the crisis, but at a price which makes sure that it remains obedient not just now, but in future too. That is being done through the IMF as well as the bilateral donors, not just the USA alone. The old proverb warns of Greeks bearing gifts. A more modern version would warn of the Americans bringing loans. E-mail: