In the first instance, why should there be a dearth of economic and financial wizards within our political hierarchy. Our mainstream political parties need to enlarge their reservoir of talent by having more of Navid Qamars and Ishaq Dars in their ranks. They must recast their structures to reinforce their operational capabilities not only in respect of economic and financial matters but also in other crucial areas of national importance such as energy, foreign policy and security. One thing is clear. No civilian authority will be supreme until and unless it is equipped with its own technocratic skills and is well-informed and conversant with the mechanisms of defence and national security, foreign affairs, finance and energy. It must have well organised strong institutions to impose its will through effective and well-thought-out decisions, executive orders and control of funds. There should be well-defined machinery consisting of qualified persons to formulate and implement the country's policies at the ministerial level in these specialized areas. Since October 1999, we saw a deliberate effort at willfully discrediting our politicians to depict them as opportunistic, incompetent and corrupt creatures. Over the years, they have been losing out to dual-nationality technocrats of Pakistan origin who managed to become a double-utility hit in our system. Our new 'Double Shah' culture has also been gravitating overseas people of Pakistan origin with dual nationality as potential candidates for 'double-purpose' high-profile positions in Pakistan. We borrowed a prime minister from the World Bank in the early '90s and then another from Citibank, first as finance minister in the late 1990s and later upgraded to prime minister in 2004, both with known foreign allegiance and banking credentials. Both had no constituency of their own, yet political aridity at home produced no one, not even a "langra loola" politician to match their calibre and clairvoyance.  Since then, we have not looked back at our own indigenous political and technocratic cadres. In this process, two tin-pot anokha laadla cases are worthy of notice. One of the former prime minister who sent the country back to the "Stone Age" and the other of a medical doctor who has been healing Pakistan's cricket to its death. Both were brought to the country on "rescue" missions, and both accomplished their "mission." One dismantled the country's economy, and threw the country in total darkness while remaining focused on the glow of "privatisation and stocks." The other has succeeded in ruining the country's cricket and leaving behind a PCB with dilemmas of the worst kind. A benighted country already in the throes of all kinds of crises ranging from militancy and terrorism, from extremism to violence, and from the "rule of tooth and claw" to food and power shortages is now in dire economic straits. Unless given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, Pakistan is at the verge of an imminent "default" if not a collapse. Pakistan's new Economic Adviser Shaukat Tarin was admirably upbeat when he rejected the apprehensions of a collapse or being at the brink of bankruptcy. "Over my dead body," he said. But let us not talk about "dead bodies." We have had enough of them. We are fighting a full-scale war against our own people. And our beloved country is the only "heavenly" place in the world where Muslims are killing Muslims only to secure a berth for themselves in the paradise of life hereafter. Today, Pakistan's name instantly raises fear and concern all over the world. We are seen as the most "dangerous and most unsafe" place on earth. We have become a "suicidal" nation, and have killed thousands of our own people including Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. All those killed in these ghastly attacks, civilian or military, were Pakistanis. We are killing ourselves. Let us talk of economy. Shaukat Tarin is himself worried otherwise he would not have raised the alarm that Pakistan is left with only thirty days to fill a yawning gap ranging between $3.5 to $4.5 billion in its 'dwindling" forex reserves. According to him, the government cannot wait for more than 30 days to get cash assistance from "multilateral" lenders and "friendly" governments merely to avoid recourse to the IMF. Last month, at the New York meeting of the "Friends of Pakistan," President Zardari also scared the world by magnifying Pakistan's cash starvation to the tune of $100 billion. Things are really serious. Unfortunately, all is not well with our economy.  We are in a serious crunch. Our immediate SOS need is estimated at $3 to 4 billion in the next quarter and $7 to 10 billion over the next year. In Washington, at the annual World Bank-IMF session, the IFIs including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank are said to have agreed on a short-to- medium term package of about $4 billion to help Pakistan avert a default on its loans. Like a good banker, Shaukat Tarin pledged to be working on three simultaneous tracks. He called them Plan A (IFIs), Plan B (Friends of Pakistan) and Plan C (IMF), and was optimistic in assessing Pakistan's ability to bridge its immediate financing gap in a short span of 30 days under Plans A and B.  According to him, help from the IFIs was forthcoming while the Friends of Pakistan would be meeting in Abu Dhabi next month. But in any case, if the two plans fail, then Pakistan would, under the Plan-C, move the IMF for bailout. While Tarin was saying this, a senior official of the Finance Ministry was telling a different story. He said the Plans A and B could only materialize once Pakistan went into the IMF programme under the Plan C, meaning that the government would first adopt the Plan-C. Already a team of officials (not Mr. Tarin himself) is talking to the IMF team which expressed inability to come to Islamabad for security reasons. Tarin still insisted that that we had not formally approached the IMF for a "facility" and that we were still hoping to secure funds from other multilateral lenders and friendly governments. The problem with bankers is that they can't look beyond liquidities and financial bailouts. National economies are a different ballgame altogether. We will never recover from our current economic malaise through Plans A, B or C which are all predicated on the availability of funds from others. Shaukat Tarin is new to the multilateral "wonderland" of Breton Woods. He was impressed by the ambience and congeniality of his meetings with his interlocutors in Washington DC. But most of the Excellencies that Mr. Tarin must have met and interacted with on Pakistan's economic crisis wouldn't even remember his name on their return to their respective capitals. Shaukat Tarin would be best advised to come of his Plan A, B, C mould. These Plans will not work. Richard Boucher has said there will be no cash on the table. Let us be realistic. China, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are perhaps the only reliable friends that we can rely upon. Others can only help us marginally but not without conditions. Our rulers even the elected ones, unfortunately, are men of tunnel vision. They can't see beyond their nose. Shaukat Tarin could make history by putting the country back on the path to "self reliance." He should focus on Plan D that focuses on evolving a homegrown economic recovery and remedial roadmap. We need homegrown solutions to our current economic problems which inter alia include tightening of belts to reduce governmental spending and borrowings, controlling inflation, rationalizing of GDP targets, restoring macro-economic balance, banning non-essential imports and luxuries to reduce the trade gap. Cut down on foreign visits and perks to public leaders and civil and military officers. Beware of the IMF. Remember what Nobel Laureate and a Professor of Economics at Columbia University Joseph Stiglitz had to say about the IMF which in his words "likes to go about its business without outsiders asking too many questions. In theory, the Fund supports democratic institutions in the nations it assists. In practice, it undermines the democratic process by imposing policies." Let us not ransom again our newly-reborn democracy. The writer is a former foreign secretary and senior political analyst