Press Release

CADTM demands that Pakistan must immediately suspend the reimbursement of the debt to face the crisis

7 July 2009 by CADTM

Almost a year ago in August 2008, Pakistan was at the brink of a default. Its foreign exchange reserves were hitting the rock bottom of $4 billion, depleting rapidly in the range of $250 to $330 million weekly, which were hardly sufficient to sustain a month’s imports. Pakistan’s sovereign debt Sovereign debt Government debts or debts guaranteed by the government. and liabilities Liabilities The part of the balance-sheet that comprises the resources available to a company (equity provided by the partners, provisions for risks and charges, debts). had crossed the $45 billion mark, the Pakistani rupee had depreciated to 23 per cent and the gap between balance Balance End of year statement of a company’s assets (what the company possesses) and liabilities (what it owes). In other words, the assets provide information about how the funds collected by the company have been used; and the liabilities, about the origins of those funds. of trade was widening to an alarming extent. To confront this problem, a desperate Pakistan decided to knock the IMF IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
door, and despite strong opposition from many in the country, the government finally entered into $7.6 billion Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) loan.

Yet, even after resorting to pump-priming measures, the global economy does not escape the stagnation in which it is plummeted. If it risks plunging more countries in the infernal spiral of debt, this “solution” additionally forces the PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party) government headed by Asif Ali Zardari to apply the same spurious recipes that have inevitably led to the current impasse.

The Stand-By Arrangement calls for example, the elimination of fuel and electricity subsidies, doing away with exemptions on income and agriculture taxes, continuing privatisation process and cutting social sector spending. The only thing IMF did not emphasize was to cut was the military budget... The Pakistani government fulfilled its obligations of the privatization of industrial units. It put up for sale millions of hectares of agricultural lands, withdrew fuel subsidies and increased electricity tariff; all these provoked strong protests. To keep down its budgetary deficit, the government put an end to around 125 public sector developmental projects [1] and have postponed 432 others. The expenditure for higher education has been reduced by 73% while the imposition of fiscal supplementary charges could terribly wreck this sector.

The recourse to indebtedness and the implementation of neo-liberal measures, imposed at the global level since the last 30 years have been a failure in terms of human development. These are contrary to a genuine political course to be taken in dealing the financial crisis, defending the interests of its victims.

CADTM calls on the Pakistani government to discontinue submitting at the pernicious injunctions of the IMF and to take urgent measures such as a unilateral suspension of the repayment of debt – odious and largely immoral – in order to assign priority to the fundamental human requirements of its population.

CADTM recalls that the earlier General Pervez Musharraf regime was a strategic ally of the US in the region, especially since the 9/11 attacks. The principal creditors have never hesitated to lend the Pakistani dictatorship the funds it needs to pursue this alliance. In the autumn of 2001, the United States asked Pakistan for assistance in waging the war in Afghanistan. Musharraf agreed to let the US use his country as a rearguard base for US armed forces and those of its allies, but in exchange, he negotiated a substantial reduction of Pakistan’s debt. In December 2001, the rich countries meeting at the Paris Club Paris Club This group of lender States was founded in 1956 and specializes in dealing with non-payment by developing countries.

were quick to agree to this reduction. The regime then continued indebting Pakistan with the active support of the World Bank World Bank
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 189 members in 2017), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.

and the other major powers. The loans granted have no legitimacy; it has only served to reinforce the tyranny of the General and have not improved a bit the living conditions of the Pakistani citizens... The debt contracted by this despotic regime can therefore be classified as odious. CADTM declares that the creditors who made loans to Musharraf did so in full knowledge of the facts; and under such circumstances, it is inadmissible that the Pakistani people should in the future be forced to repay the odious debt Odious Debt According to the doctrine, for a debt to be odious it must meet two conditions:
1) It must have been contracted against the interests of the Nation, or against the interests of the People, or against the interests of the State.
2) Creditors cannot prove they they were unaware of how the borrowed money would be used.

We must underline that according to the doctrine of odious debt, the nature of the borrowing regime or government does not signify, since what matters is what the debt is used for. If a democratic government gets into debt against the interests of its population, the contracted debt can be called odious if it also meets the second condition. Consequently, contrary to a misleading version of the doctrine, odious debt is not only about dictatorial regimes.

(See Éric Toussaint, The Doctrine of Odious Debt : from Alexander Sack to the CADTM).

The father of the odious debt doctrine, Alexander Nahum Sack, clearly says that odious debts can be contracted by any regular government. Sack considers that a debt that is regularly incurred by a regular government can be branded as odious if the two above-mentioned conditions are met.
He adds, “once these two points are established, the burden of proof that the funds were used for the general or special needs of the State and were not of an odious character, would be upon the creditors.”

Sack defines a regular government as follows: “By a regular government is to be understood the supreme power that effectively exists within the limits of a given territory. Whether that government be monarchical (absolute or limited) or republican; whether it functions by “the grace of God” or “the will of the people”; whether it express “the will of the people” or not, of all the people or only of some; whether it be legally established or not, etc., none of that is relevant to the problem we are concerned with.”

So clearly for Sack, all regular governments, whether despotic or democratic, in one guise or another, can incur odious debts.
contracted by Musharraf. In these conditions, a pure and simple cancellation of the debts is the least demand.

In addition, the fight against pauperisation and against the growth of religious fundamentalism cannot be victorious until the fundamental problems of the peasantry, the working class and that of the women, in the social, political and economic domain are resolved.

- CADTM supports the demand for a programme of radical agrarian reform, the redistribution of lands in the hands of armed forces (the ‘Military Farms’, the ‘Army Welfare Trust’ and the Punjab Seed Corporation) which controls close to 30,000 hectares of very fertile lands which the peasants and their families cultivate for more than a century. There should be a radical reduction of the military budget to benefit social expenditure.

- CADTM calls Pakistan and all the countries of the South to set off another economic logic respecting the fundamental human rights and the environment, opposed to the neo-liberal logic imposed at forceps through an odious debt which they must immediately call for abolition. CADTM supports a programme for a total legal and constitutional reform which incorporates the convocation of an assembly to draft a new secular constitution respecting the minorities and women.

- CADTM demands an end to the occupation of Afghanistan by the American and NATO NATO
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NATO ensures US military protection for the Europeans in case of aggression, but above all it gives the USA supremacy over the Western Bloc. Western European countries agreed to place their armed forces within a defence system under US command, and thus recognize the preponderance of the USA. NATO was founded in 1949 in Washington, but became less prominent after the end of the Cold War. In 2002, it had 19 members: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the UK, the USA, to which were added Greece and Turkey in 1952, the Federal Republic of Germany in 1955 (replaced by Unified Germany in 1990), Spain in 1982, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic in 1999.
forces as well as their withdrawal from other parts of the world.

- CADTM provides support to popular support against the pursuit of neo-liberal policies and the return of foreign military forces. CADTM supports the struggle of social and political forces opposing religious fundamentalism. CADTM supports the women’s struggle for their emancipation.


[1The budgetary cut for these programmes is currently estimated at 100 billion Pakistani rupees.

Other articles in English by CADTM (98)

0 | 10 | 20 | 30 | 40 | 50 | 60 | 70 | 80 | 90



8 rue Jonfosse
4000 - Liège- Belgique

00324 60 97 96 80