Poverty in Pakistan, Terrorism, and the IMF

[Crossposted at dKos as a diary, please recommend it.]

From the intelligence gathered thus far, the consensus opinion on the Mumbai terrorists is they are Islamist extremists who hail from Pakistan. File that revelation under “no surprise”. But information about the lone captured terrorist, Mohammad Ajmal Mohammad Amin Kasab, and how it ties into economic news, could be startling.

UK newspaper the Observer had the now fortunate (for a news organization) coincidence of traveling to the Pakistani cities of Multan and Bahawalpur last week. They describe Bahawalpur as “the biggest recruiting base of the militant groups currently being blamed by India for the Mumbai attack”; a center for the terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba. What is Kasab’s connection to this? He is from Faridkot, a town close to these two cities.

I haven’t seen the demographics on these cities, but I’m guessing that poverty exists and is rampant.

This is an educated guess, based on this paragraph from the Observer article:

For most militants in the region the story – and that of Azam Amir Kasab is unlikely to be very different – starts at school. The southern Punjab has one of the highest concentrations of religious schools or madrassas in south Asia. Most teach the ultra-conservative Deobandi strand of Islam that is also followed by the Afghan Taliban and, crucially in this desperately poor land, offers free classes, board and lodging to students.

If these schools offered free room and board to a population that didn’t need it, then their power would be diminished. But that’s not the kind of world Pakistanis live in. Pakistan is in economic trouble. As I pointed out a couple weeks ago (in a jab to the GM bailout package), Pakistan needs a $7.6 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to stay afloat this year. (Recently, I’ve seen some articles saying more IMF money is needed, and might have to amend that post in the future.) IMF money doesn’t come without a price, though — and I’m not talking about Pakistan simply having to pay off the loans in the future. Poverty is attached to the IMF price tag, too:

ISLAMABAD, Nov 28: Conditions attached to the $7.6 billion International Monetary Fund loan are expected to cause up to three million job cuts in different sectors and push another 5.6 million to 7.5 million Pakistanis into poverty over the next two years. […]

When asked about the immediate fallout of the conditions which was aimed at slowing down the import-led economic growth, Mr Shirani [Chief Economist of the Royal Bank of Scotland] said that two to three million people would lose their jobs in various sectors, including fertiliser, manufacturing and services.

He said the GDP growth was expected to slow down to 3.4 per cent this year. “Some 5.6 to 7.5 million people will be added to the existing number of poor”.

Quite the vicious circle we having going in Pakistan: Poverty causes terrorism, but poverty is caused by poor economic conditions and them coming to us for money. I know that statement can be argued on two fronts: 1) Pakistan’s economic doldrums is a fault of their domestic policy (like spending gobs of money to pursue a nuclear weapon, and constant coups and instability making international investors wary of investing there); and 2) the IMF is made up of many other countries besides the United States. I can’t argue number one — Pakistan has screwed themselves over. But we’re part of the problem. The US holds the most sway in the IMF, so we have the most power in deciding not only where the money goes but under what program and loan repayment structure.

IMF loans help exacerbate poverty in Pakistan, which feeds into the power of extremist religious schools. The teachers at these schools are not shy, either, as the Observer reports:

In Bahawalpur the Jaish-e-Mohammed group, believed responsible for a string of brutal attacks across south Asia, including the murder of Jewish American journalist Daniel Pearl, has been linked to two such madrassas. One is the headquarters of the group – a semi-fortified and forbidding complex in the centre of the town. The other is the Dar-ul-Uloom Medina, where the brother-in-law of Rashid Rauf, the Bahawalpur-based suspected British militant thought to have been killed in an American missile attack eight days ago, is a teacher. Surrounded by some of the 700 students, he told The Observer that ‘jihad’ was the duty of all his young charges. […]

‘To fight in Afghanistan or Kashmir and to struggle against the forces who are against Islam is our religious duty,’ Chugti, who oversees the education of 40,000 students, told The Observer.

Poverty in Pakistan has aided and emboldened the extremists, so decreasing the poverty must be seen as a key stepping stone to international security and heading off more terrorist attacks. In that respect, the IMF loans to Pakistan must be restructured. Or else when Pakistan is blamed for the Mumbai attacks, it’s only fair that we share that blame, too. And don’t know about you, but personally, I feel ashamed.

8 Responses to “Poverty in Pakistan, Terrorism, and the IMF”

  1. Kathy says:

    [Crossposted at dKos as a diary, please recommend it.]

    And how does one do that? I went over there and did not see any Recommend button.

  2. tas says:

    I see one but it’s because I have an account there… I think you have to be a registered user to recommend diaries.

  3. NoOneYouKnow says:

    IMF and World Bank policies are largely controlled by the U.S. government and its client corporations. These policies create lots of money for the corporations while causing deep poverty in the victim countries. This poverty causes social unrest which leads to violence, political upheaval, and/or criminal behavior like illegal drug production. “Trying to control” (while aiding and abetting) this violence, unrest and illegal drug production also creates lots of money for U.S. corporations. See how that works?

  4. robert says:

    Let’s be clear here that pakistan is a “terrorist state” and never have any illusion that it is going to be any different.We have made a grave blunder by suggesting in the international fora that “Pakistan is also a victim of terror.” We should stop interviewing leaders from that country who mouth the same inanities that “you have not produced any proof.”Let us not fall into the trap of providing proof to the culprits. More than 100 acts/attempts of terror recorded in the world since 9/11 have had their roots in Pakistan. More than 40% of the prisoners in Guantanamo are Pakistanis.

    We should categorically, unambiguously, unequivocally boycott Pakistan in all aspects for a decade or more. Pakistan is the only territory in the world where an army has a whole country under its control. The state policy of Pakistan is terrorism and their single-point programme is to destroy India.

  5. Sami says:

    Only way to stop islamic terror is to bring Pak on to its knees. Destroy the country, not with bombs but economically.

    See the results for yourself. The world will be free of terrorism.

  6. imtiaz says:

    terrorism in pakistan is delberately imposed on pakistan by three nations(USA, INDIA, Isarel) for achieving their own unfair objectives. if we look into the strategy of these nations to impose the war on pakistan, we shall come to know that they want to make pakistan waeker and weaker with reference to economics, politics and in similar reference fields so that pakistan can never think for using nuclear weapons in case of war with any of these nations.

  7. imran khan says:

    Taliban r terrorists……..
    I think world has reborn after the collapse of soviet.those americans and the westerns create n support the talibans r now against them, call them terrorists and threat to world,, how stupid

  8. Khwaja Aftab Ali, Florida, USA says:

    Five regional cities should be upgraded with in the provinces in Pakistan. Regional cities of Dera Ismail Khan in NWFP, Gawadar/ Qalat in Balouchistan, Sukkar/ Larkana in Upper Sind, Jehlam/ Rawalpindi and Multan in Punjab province. These regional cities have been ignored by the federal and provincial governments although these cities have their own history, culture and languages.Dera Ismail Khan in south of Pakhtun khwa is under seige, Multan/DG Khan in south of Punjab is next target of religious extremists,Sukkar/ Larkan is rule by criminals, Gawadar/ Qalat is trouble some. The people of these regions have to travel to provincial capitals for every small issue and requirement of the daily life which should be provided in nearby cities. A good number of population travel to big cities for their survival to earn livelihood as the local feudal own majority land and keep the common man as their slaves. Creation of regional government and upgrading of the regional cities will save a lot of money and time of the poor people of these regions. Circuit courts of the High Courts are already working in these areas and only requirement is the additional staff of different departments involved in additional work at the provincial capitals. The concern authorities should immediately consider to upgrade the regional cities. And immediate attention should be given upgrade the airports,TV station, civic center, libraries,hospitals, educational institutes and investment opportunities for Pakistanis living abroad and foreign firms to create jobs in the area as majority population in rural Pakistan do not have enough resources to survive.It’s remind me the condition of pre Islamic revolution of Iran in Shah time when the rural Iran was ignored and the capital Tehran was developed in a way to call it Paris of Middle East with modern life style. Couple of other big cities like Isfahan and Caspian sea was taken care of because of foreign tourists but rural area was ruled by cruel police and intelligence. Then what happen after revolution rural population moved to Tehran and other big cities. But the new government developed, built and upgraded the riral areas of the country.KHWAJA AFTAB ALI,( former secretary, Iranian embassy, Saudi Arabia) Advocate High Court & I.P. Attorney- first and only Pakistani lawyer earned scholarship to study Intellectual Property Rights in USA,presently residing in Florida, USA

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