A satirical take on debt-ridden Pakistan’s contribution to the economic sanctions imposed against Russia in the wake of the Ukraine invasion was passed off as actual news by many international media outlets.
Indian satirical website The Fauxy recently published a satire that said Pakistan is contributing to the west’s economic sanctions against Russia by not repaying the $1 billion loan amount it had sought from Moscow. The article was meant as a sarcastic swipe against Pakistan, whose foundering economy is perpetually propped up by loans Islamabad continues to seek from countries around the world.
The article mockingly asserted that given the poor economic state of Pakistan, and in the absence of any leverage it has on Russia, the only way Islamabad could do its bit in punishing the Kremlin for its invasion of Ukraine is by defaulting on the $1 billion loans it had allegedly sought from Moscow.
However, many international media outlets fell for the satirical article, treating the outrageous claim of Pakistan contributing to the sanctions against Russia by not repaying its loan as entirely plausible and publishing it as real news.
International media outlets pass off a satirical article on Islamabad imposing sanctions against Russia as real news
Some Japanese and Korean websites were among those who lapped up the sarcastic claims made in the piece published on the Fauxy, presuming them to be factual and reproducing them on their respective websites. They asserted that Pakistan is joining the Russian sanctions through non-payment of its debts.
Japanese media organisation J-Cast was one of the news outlets that considered a sarcastic take on Pakistan’s alleged sanctions against Russia as an authoritative source of information and promptly published an article amplifying the claim that Islamabad would use non-payment of its loan amount as a mark of protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Another Japanese website also published a satirical article as actual news, stating that Pakistan was going to inflict punishment on Russia by defaulting on its loan payments.
Similarly, other outlets also considered claims made in a satirical article as truth and published articles on Pakistan imposing sanctions against Russia through non-payment of loans.
Looming economic crisis in Pakistan
It is worth noting that Pakistan has been teetering on the edge of an imminent financial collapse for the last several years. To delay the catastrophe, Pakistani PM Imran Khan has been running pillar to post from one country to another seeking loans to keep the country’s precarious economy afloat and to pay off the previous loans. Khan had sought loans from Saudi Arabia, China and various other countries. As of data from June 2021, the Public Debt of Pakistan is around PKR 39.9 trillion which is 83.5 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of Pakistan. Out of which, the domestic debt stood at PKR 26.2 trillion, whereas external debt was PKR 13.6 trillion (USD 86.4 billion).
Given the desperate straits Pakistan finds itself in, the former finance minister of Pakistan, Asad Umar had once stated that the only solution to Pakistan’s problems is a bailout by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He had opined that the balance of payment crisis facing Pakistan was unprecedented and approaching IMF for a bailout was unavoidable.