In August, Imran Khan took the oath to become Pakistan’s 22nd prime minister. His party’s election manifesto was “Naya Pakistan.” However, things like failing economy and spiraling debts, ensured that the Khan government’s honeymoon was short-lived. As expected, Pakistan now needs help as its economy is in deep trouble. It is seeking a bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund to address a mounting balance-of-payments crisis, which is endangering the value of its rupee and its ability to pay for the soaring import bill.
In order to avoid an economic meltdown, Pakistan would require $8 billion of loans. Despite the fact that its all-weather friend China is forcing Pakistan repayment of loans on $52 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the country is also looking fresh loans from China.
Reports say that a number of road projects related to CPEC are in doldrums as Pakistan’s National Highway Authority is facing a financial crisis.
And in this time of need, the US – once its strongest ally in the region – is not looking to help. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said,
“An IMF bailout must not be used to help repay Chinese debts that Pakistan has incurred under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)”.
Washington has accused Beijing of “debt-trap diplomacy.”
Now the big question, should India come forward and help Pakistan.
Remember, PM Modi congratulated Imran Khan, hoping that democracy will take deeper roots in the neighbouring country?
Analysts view this opportunity for India and Pakistan to begin cooperating like good neighbours, with concerns for each other’s problems. Given India’s sound financial health (it recently overtook France to become the world’s sixth-largest economy) it can easily include Pakistan in its fold in terms on giving aid. In the past too, India has help several ASEAN countries in times of need.
So, despite our troubled relations, India can take a step ahead and seize this opportunity to break barriers. Hopefully, Pakistan will reciprocate too.