On Tuesday, Pakistan Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry announced that the Federal Cabinet will begin the process of taking loans by means of mortgaging major assets, including airports and roadways across the nation. The large-scale loans are to be issued through Sukuk bonds.
Initially, the Khan administration had attempted to mortgage the F-9 Park in Islamabad in order to bring in 500bn rupees, but the plans were rejected by the Federal Cabinet. Consequently, a plan was then made for the 244-acre Islamabad Club to be mortgaged, as well as Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, one of the Republic’s busiest airports.
Instead, in order for the bonds to be issued and loans be taken out, Islamabad International Airport, Allama Iqbal International Airport and Multan International Airport are set to be mortgaged, as well as the Islamabad Expressway, the Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway and the Pindi-Bhattian-Lahore motorway section.
This pattern of collateral being put on the table in order for major loans to be taken out is no surprise to many. Since Khan became Prime Minister in 2018, his government has added almost $22bn to Pakistan’s international debt. The IMF is about to bail out Pakistan, yet again, as Pakistan helps the U.S. prepare an exit strategy in Afghanistan. In order to clear up the Prime Minister’s increasingly negative image, especially after recent comments regarding victim blaming and a refusal of condemning marginalised Muslim groups in China, an attempt at clearing the national debt is a bold strategy which could, potentially, pay off.