A recent commenter wrote something that I read and hear very often, and that always infuriates me. The comment was on a post about foreign aid, and the commenter wrote that Pakistan should not be a beggar nation and should stand on its own feet. I reject this entire way of thinking and wish people would stop calling our country a beggar!
The ‘beggar nation’ slur always comes up whenever there is some discussion of foreign aid, usually from the US or IMF. Now, there may be a good reason not to accept a particular aid package from the US or loan from the IMF. But saying that Pakistan is a ‘beggar’ is offensive and, I have to say it, not very smart.
First, do you think that people outside Pakistan do not hear what we are calling our own country? Already there are too many misconceptions about Pakistan, why would you reinforce these stereotypes by calling your own country a beggar?
Second, let’s look at what is actually being referred to. With aid packages, particularly from the US, I do not like the term ‘aid.’ It sounds too much like we are taking alms. But this is hardly the case. For example, current US ‘aid’ is really more ‘investment’ in Pakistan. The Americans invest some money in building our infrastructure, energy capacity, etc. and they receive dividends in having a peaceful and prosperous partner.
Nobody in Greece calls their country a beggar because the EU will help them stabilize their economy. Nobody calls the USA a beggar because their economy relies on Chinese investment. Nobody calls Iceland a beggar nation after it took a £1.3bn IMF loan. Nobody calls Turkey a beggar nation because they receive some aid from the US. I think you get the idea.
The fact is that we live in a world with an economy that is more connected than simply one nation standing alone. Just as two brothers may invest in each other’s business because they know that the family will be more prosperous if both succeed, so nations invest in each other so that the world community will be more prosperous and provide more opportunities to improve the lives of all citizens.
And being a respected member of the world community has other benefits as well. Not only does it provide better access to foreign markets and investors that can improve our economy, nations that join the world community have more influence in global affairs.
Look at the difference between Iran, a nation that refuses to be a part of the world community, and Turkey, which is well respected. Turkey not only has a better economy, but when Turkey makes some criticism of Israel, the world powers listen. When Iran makes some criticism of Israel, nobody takes them seriously. Would you rather Pakistan be like Iran or Turkey?
Pakistan has in its reach the opportunity to be an influential member of the world community. In doing so, it would help improve our access to foreign markets and investors and it would give us more influence on world affairs. But all of this can be gone if we continue to recite anti-democratic propaganda and put our nation down. So, please, stop calling my nation a beggar. It is simply not true.