News Release

Disaster in Pakistan


Shingavi is an assistant professor of South Asian literature at the University of Texas in Austin. He addresses several aspects of the current crisis in his two-part interview with The Real News, “Why isn’t the world rushing to rescue Pakistan?

Mahmood was an editorial cartoonist for Dawn, a national newspaper in Pakistan. He is now internationally syndicated with the New York Times Syndicate. Mahmood said today: “This is the biggest global disaster right now and the world needs to unequivocally get behind Pakistan. The country needs to feel they are an integral part of civil society and are not being strung-and-sunk by misfit politicians and Islamist groups who are hampering the aid process.”

The Pakistani government is reportedly in talks with the IMF and other international creditors. LeCompte is executive director and St. Louis is deputy director of the Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of more than 75 religious denominations, human rights groups and development agencies.

LeCompte said today: “Pakistan must be able to mobilize all available resources toward recovery. Instead of sending billions in debt service out of the country, Pakistan should be able to invest those resources in relief and recovery for its people. Furthermore, the international community should provide grant support instead of new loans that will push the country further into debt.” See statement: “Jubilee USA Network Calls for Immediate Debt Service Moratorium in Response to Disaster, Assistance in Grant Form.”

Jubilee Debt Campaign (the UK affiliate) reports: “Pakistan’s debt repayments already amount to three times what the government spends on healthcare — in a country where 38 percent of under 5-year-olds are underweight, only 54 percent of people are literate, and 60 percent live below the poverty line. The United Nations says it has only raised 70 percent of the $460 million called for in emergency aid by the institution. But even this amount will be dwarfed by debt repayments unless serious relief is instituted. …

“Pakistan’s debt rose rapidly under the military regime of General Musharraf (2001-8) from $32 [billion] to nearly $50 billion. In fact campaigners point out that the vast majority of Pakistan’s loans were run up under military governments, many offering little benefit to ordinary people. Pakistani groups like CADTM-Pakistan [Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt] have long called for an audit of the debts, saying it is unjust for the poor of Pakistan to repay reckless loans that borrowers should never have lent. The group is currently calling on their government to repudiate its debts on the basis of a ‘state of necessity.'”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167