The first signs of a banking collapse in the Western world appeared early this year when Northern Rock, a relatively less known mortgage bank in the UK reported huge losses and Prime Minister Gordon Brown had to intervene by announcing a Bank of England guarantee to save a run on the bank where people had already started queuing for withdrawals. Soon Bear Sterns, an American bank of international repute, revealed that its assets worth billions of dollars fell short of covering the deposits, instantly plunging its share value to $1 (read almost zero) and was later purchased by Bank of America at $10 per share. Two of the oldest US mortgage banks Fannie Mae and Lehman brothers had to be bought by the US treasury while other European governments had to step in with cash to prop several banks in order to safeguard public money. A series of mergers, acquisitions, nationalisation's followed and the US government and the European Union introduced open ended rescue packages of $700 billion and Euro 200 billion respectively to save the financial system that was the engine of growth of the capitalist structure based on free markets. Since then, stock markets have crashed all over the world, the slump in housing sector has forced foreclosures on properties amid forecasts of high unemployment and an impending long recession. Big businesses of long standings such as the insurance giant AIG and General Motors, once the biggest car manufacturer employing millions of workers, are near bankruptcy. The economies of oil producing nations like Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Gulf States had prospered with massive public spending during the last few years, flushed with money earned from the windfall of oil prices rising to $145 per barrel, artificially jacked up mainly by forward buying manipulated by commodity traders financed by big money lenders and hedge funds and partly due to rising demand. They have also begun to review their finances, cutting down on ambitious projects in view of the depleted cash flow resulting from the price slide dipping to below $50 per barrel and the imminent lower demand of oil. The booming real estate market and tourism in the wonder state of Dubai are in the doldrums. Since most export oriented economies are interlinked with the American markets, the ripples of this melt down, liquidity crunch and global recession are felt as far as China that has indicated an economic downtrend and Japan that declared a 2 percent slow down. Advanced and emerging nations are rallying around each other in joint forums to work out solutions, restructure their economies in preparation for the hard times ahead and to raise funds needed to be injected into their economies to stage a revival. Pakistan cannot be insulated from this global financial mess, created by over borrowing of American banks, although the factors governing its faltering economy are different. Our banking system is robust as it has not been exposed to the vagrancies of real estate mortgages and operates under stringent State Bank guidelines. All other macro economic indicators have been falling over the last eighteen months and the country ratings are constantly being downgraded - the latest to a junk economy. Our economy that showed consistent growth for several years at over 6 percent per annum, built around the American style credit and consumer finance, import of cheaper goods in competition with our own industrial produce and ignoring the agricultural sector, proved to be too fragile to absorb the shocks and sustain the short period of political uncertainty. During this time, we continued to consume one billion dollars more each month, some of which are non-essential, than what we earned by way of exports, foreign remittances and asset sales, depleting the foreign currency reserves to a critical level of about $3.5 billion (one month's imports). The negligence and complacency of our managers in taking timely measures to arrest the slide has reduced our creditability to the extent that the international financial institutions have refused to extend any further loans or to disburse those already in the pipeline and our 'friends' are reluctant to disburse cash to avert a default on our financial liabilities, unless guaranteed by IMF. Our claim for reimbursement of expenses and financial losses incurred in fighting for the Americans in the tribal areas as a frontline state and facilitating logistical support was our final weapon that also proved to be blunt. The Americans have been sitting on our bills and the Biden package of $1.6 billion assistance has been held in abeyance for months. The only option left was the last resort of the International Monetary Fund that has now been exercised, despite its notoriety for failure in third world countries, its stringent conditions and close monitoring of fund utilisation to ensure the fulfilment of commitments and financial discipline. Beggars can hardly be choosers. The demeanour of our elected representatives, however, is not perceived by the public to reflect any sense of urgency to devise comprehensive plans and implement effective measures to stimulate and improve the dismal state of our economy (except for averting the immediate banking default). Nor are there any signs of a deep concern to evolve a concerted opinion among all stakeholders to deal with the dangers looming on our northern borders or with the political and regional polarisation within the country. The perception of this apathy by the government circles, to set a direction towards resolution of these factors extends to the prospective foreign and domestic investors, who await better indicators conducive for investment. Meanwhile, the politicians remain occupied with perpetual infighting for petty positions of influence to protect and promote their self-interests and the rich and powerful merrily going about their lavish life styles keeping their money safely stacked overseas, leaving it for someone else to bail the country out. The public feels abandoned, left to fend for themselves amid the ever mounting economic and social hardships in a vacuum of leadership, disillusioned with the change they voted for that never came for them and with the gulf between the rulers and the ruled that appears to be widening. The intellectuals are frustrated with the non-reinstatement of the judiciary to pre-November 3, 2007 position, impotence of the Parliament, poor governance and with the continuation of the Musharraf amended constitution from which the dictatorial clauses have not been repealed. The poor are suffering from the mismanagement of electricity supply, food shortages and escalating prices (food inflation at 32 percent and transport up by 40 percent). The business sector is worried about the nose-dive in the value of rupee, high input costs and rising bank interest rates, the suicide attacks and the worsening law and order that has scared the foreign buyers who are pulling their orders out of Pakistan. The farmer foresees a scarcity of water for the next crops and is wary of the levy of agricultural tax and the smaller provinces complain of deprivation from their due share. The armed forces are increasingly concerned with their deteriorating image in the eyes of the public due to the military operations in FATA that is killing hundreds and displacing thousands of Pakistani families from their homes while the militants are taking advantage from the weakness of the government. The only people, who are gleaming with satisfaction and do not tire of reciting their achievements of last seven months that are inconsequential to the plight of the average citizen, are those in power enjoying the spoils of government. When will our privileged leaders in authority and the affluent classes learn to put the state above personal interest? The world is not equitable. While the Americans are planning to revive their economy by introducing 2-3 percent of GDP fiscal package, cutting taxes and interest rates and subsidising failing banks and industries, we are being asked by IMF to reduce public spending, cut subsidies to zero, increase taxes and bank rates and lower growth targets that will translate into further poverty and unemployment. Is there no one in our country to teach us how to manage our accounts and finance? Can we not develop our home-grown route map to maintain growth and an aggressive action plan away from bureaucratic red tape to come out of recession, create opportunities and build confidence among small, medium and large businesses to invest in our own backyard? The writer is an entrepreneur and engineer