a difference of opinion

A:    Now that the coffee is here, let’s pick up from where we left off. You expressed your overly paranoid reservations against Chinese investment and how we are going to be held ‘hostage’ by it. Now tell me, what if this wasn’t a commercial enterprise of a conditional loan, what if this was a grant? Foreign aid, the type we were the beneficiary of for so long... would you still maintain that the government should initiate projects on their own?

S:    Absolutely. The reasons change, but the answer remains the same; a self-sufficient government.

 A:    What might those be?  If you wheel out the done and dusted argument of how it is ‘degrading our integrity’ to ask for charity then I’ll know for sure that you’ll say anything to win a debate.

S:    You know me better that that Ameen. ‘Integrity’ is not my strong suit. Even if I were to talk about it I’d say that it is only fair that we are receiving some portion of the riches that were looted from our lands by the colonials. But we’re getting distracted here. I simply believe in that old Chinese proverb ‘"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.

A:    Hiding behind proverbs now? You are definitely off your game today. I need logic, Sadiq. Come now.

S:    Logic it is; a grant or aid package is an artificial insertion into our economy, and receiving it on sustained basis hoodwinks the economy into thinking it is healthy. No one tries innovative methods, no one tries to increase production, and no one tries to reset the tax net, simply because there is no need to do so. The systems become inefficient and dependent on aid, and once it is yanked from us, we find ourselves in an economic abyss with no idea what to do.

A:    And the schools, the infrastructure, the hospitals and the jobs we created with that aid, is that going to be ‘yanked’ away too by the donor?

S:    No, we keep the physical benefits, true. But we lack the resources to sustain them and do not know the methods of generating those resources.

A:    So under that principle would you deny foreign aid in times of a natural disaster?

S:    No, I’m not a fool. No food, no shelter; that is a life and death situation.

A:    Half of Pakistan lives in that situation every day, Sadiq.