In every relationship partnership, business dealing or cooperation there needs to be an underlying equation based on reciprocity, if not tangible equality. Understandable and given that it is not a perfect world and that ground realities often dictate the 'terms of reference, still for dealings to be meaningful and sustainable it is important that both sides if nothing else should be perceived as working towards making this equation as practically equal as possible. It is precisely this assurance of reciprocity that seems to be eluding this government in its major policy endeavours (home and abroad) or certainly the perception of it Pakistanis are a proud nation and even though they may have quietly reconciled to some of the practical constraints on part of their government vis-a-vis external dealings (e.g. UK, USA and India) they feel pained and let down by the sheer timidness of its behaviour during bilateral engagements. For example, Why even accept, let alone laud, an inadequate and rather degrading (in quite a few clauses) assistance bill like the recent Kerry-Lugar & Berman bill, Why not defend and take a tough stand for our students who were wronged in the UK like what was taken by India in Australia and while on the subject of India, Why go crawling to them in a manner where they pretend to do us a favour by simply talking to us let alone seriously committing to a composite dialogue? The case of IMF is no different While the developing world becomes increasingly conscious about why poor countries should try and stay away from IMF as much as possible, we seem to be thinking of no other option but the IMF funding as the sole source of survival and agreeing to terms and conditions that are not only coercive but with time are bound to lead to social unrest. The danger and high risk that comes along with IMF borrowing for countries like Pakistan is that not only are they simply not in a position to undertake more debt, but in the process also end up yielding to demands, which lead to the adoption of counterproductive pro-cyclical policies. It is now an open secret that IMF decided to help us only in return for our help to do exactly as demanded by the guarantors of the transaction(s). Even though some of the actions being demanded by these friends cum guarantors (USA, UK and allies) may also be in our best interest, still when it comes to balancing the equation and extracting a fair reciprocity, we seem to have yet again been short changed Little wonder that by repeatedly agreeing to operate on unequal terms, the whole concept seems to have rubbed off and become like a culture, habit or perhaps the standard norm with us. However, Ironically when it comes to our very own domestic affairs the dice tends to be loaded the other way. The two glaring examples that immediately spring to mind depicting this kind of behavioural pattern pertain to the governmental approach on taxation and in its failure to provide any kind of stimulus for growth and job creation. On taxation the foremost concern is that why in the first place set lofty targets, which given the deep global and domestic recession and a badly disturbed national utility supply chain are, (a) impossible to meet and (b) even if achieved by some miraculous way would surely be unfair and punishing for the people? Instead why not set lower benchmarks and then gradually work ones way up towards over-achieving those lower targets by backing enhanced economic activity? Taxation by nature is a two way street. People pay only if they feel secure about the way their contributions are spent and if they feel confident that their sacrifice of today will be instrumental in ensuring them and their children a better tomorrow - Reciprocity. Can the government put its hand on its heart and say that it is succeeding in assuring this phenomenon for them? No prescription should out-subscribe the life of the patient. ~ Prof Dr Kellerman the famous German miracle worker. IMF recipes are great, but what if the economy collapses before any good can come out of them? Regardless of what one may think, economies are living things as they go on to affect the past, present and future of real people. ~ Schummpeter. These are lessons no economic manager should forget. Only if there is profitability in the market will the economic activity take place to capitalize on it. Regrettably, with unfriendly policies in maintaining abnormally high interest rates, shameless mismanagement in ensuring to provide regular and affordable power and energy to manufacturing and in absence of any clear roadmap towards achieving self-reliance the economy is in a state of chaos. For any kind of recovery it needs support and incentives to be in a position to reciprocate positively for the economic health of the country. We may have our differences with India, but it was interesting to listen to their 2009-10 budget presented by Parnab Mukherjee. In his words, the state owed it to its entrepreneurs, professionals and workers the help they need in todays tough times and went on to provide the same by announcing significant monetary assistance to the indebted farmers, tax-breaks to the middle-class taxpayers, generous money allocations to infrastructure projects and by boosting welfare spending to help shore private consumption. According to him, he is not unnecessarily worried if the fiscal deficit (in case of India nearly12 percent of GDP) goes up in the short-term because it is the growth rate of 9 percent he is really after. Only by giving can one expect something in return. Quoting from Kautilya, he promised, Not to collect unripe fruits, and wait for Indians to prosper and reciprocate the trust posed in them by their state. Sincerely hope that someone at this side of the border has also been listening