The good news is that General Raheel went over to Dushanbe and met the President, Defence Minister and Chief of General Staff of Tajikistan. After all, Pakistan’s efforts for peace in Afghanistan have a much better chance of bearing fruit with the cooperation of Afghanistan’s other neighbors. Now democracy-lovers might not like my saying it but, really, it’s a relief to know that at least someone in the power hierarchy not only understands what needs to be done in our national interest but is also brave and selfless enough to actually do it.

If the democracy-lovers had it their politically-correct way, the Chief of the Army Staff would be barred from meeting world leaders. To the blindfolded cheerleaders of democracy, it amounts to an encroachment of Pakistan’s foreign policy which, pretty much like everything else under the sun, is marked by them as an exclusive domain reserved for the divine democratic government. To soothe any anxiety about the suicidal foreign policy preferences of the Nawaz government, they show us the mirage of their favorite silver lining.

According to the theory of democracy-lovers, in decades to come democracy would mature, enough to throw up leaders with a vision who could grapple with international affairs to protect and promote our national interest. But what about the contemporary challenges we face and the tremendous opportunities they bring? Whether or not democracy matures tomorrow, can we afford to miss the bus today? How can we be so sure that there is another one coming anytime soon, even ever?

So should we wait for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to find time from his counter-productive flirtation with Saudi Arabia and India to pay some attention to foreign policy initiatives that actually matter? Should we wait for him to grow a spine when it comes to the US and its arm-twisting ways? Or should we thank God that when it comes to our foreign and security policy, we are not entirely dependent on his royal ‘democratic’ whims?

What we need to understand is that the bad decisions that the Nawaz government would rather take are not merely errors of judgment.

The inclination to join the Saudi war of aggression against Yemen did not stem from any misperceived notion of national interest on part of our democratic government but from a personal sense of obligation. The same could be said about the decision to first join the mysterious Saudi-led coalition of thirty-something countries and then participate in a military exercise under that banner in Saudi Arabia.

Even if one were to disregard the sectarian and anti-Iran moorings of the nefarious coalition, does it make sense to support the belligerent Saudi government at a time when it is destroying Yemen and threatening to invade Syria? Does it make sense to participate in an exercise under Saudi command bang in the middle of a volatile region; a region made volatile due not in small part to Saudi belligerence and its sponsorship of terrorism? Does it not matter that the Saudi royals refuse to listen to our sane advice and spurn our efforts at mediation?

While normalisation of relations with India is all very well, the government’s overtures towards the country are similarly warped by the narrow prism of self-interest of the ruling coterie. The same goes for its love for IMF and other instruments of imperial control and its lukewarm response to lucrative possibilities of closer cooperation with Iran and Russia. Even the game-changing CPEC has been negatively affected by the Nawaz government’s lack of interest in the national interest.

Look closely and there is a deeper thread running through this foreign policy fiasco. What binds the foreign policy preferences of our oh-so-democratic government together is subservience to the diktat of the US and its eagerness for financial crumbs that it promises. The ruling coterie is clear that their personal interests are inextricably linked to keeping Pakistan within the exploitative imperialist framework. That’s neither very democratic nor does it bode well for our future.

At a time when the tectonic plates of geo-politics are shifting to our advantage, when the US-led empire and its fraudulent dollar-based economy is on the retreat and new avenues of mutually beneficial cooperation are knocking at our door promising a bright future, the government is hankering after a measly piece of the sun under a dying empire. Not only is the democratic government determined to miss the bus, it is doing whatever it can to catch the wrong one.

We live in a time when countries around the Russia-China axis in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Eurasian Economic Union and BRICS are bypassing the dollar to trade in their currencies. We live at a time when the pillars of US hegemony are dissolving like salt, when its dollar-based economy, proxy terrorists, donor-driven NGOs, humanitarian concerns and loans and grants are being exposed for the weapons of war that they are. We live in a time when the first train from China has already arrived in Iran.

It is not only unfortunate but also uncanny that democracy-lovers are blind to the world as it unfolds before us, on the ground and in real time. Their eyes wrapped in yarns upon yarns of theory, they’d rather not see the thunderstorm of a rapidly changing world approaching us.

Independent observers of international relations agree that we are likely to experience living in a world divided in two camps before we taste the fruits of a multi-polar world. The contours of these two camps are becoming more and more defined with every passing day and we must choose one. We could either opt for the US-led empire and the hell that it has planned for us or the China-Russia axis and the positive change that it heralds not only for us but the whole wide world.

Left to our democratic government it would drag us in the US camp. If left to its own devices, can we, for instance, trust the Nawaz government to welcome Presidents Putin and Rouhanni in a manner that befits their importance to Pakistan? So is it such a bad thing that our oh-so-democratic government doesn’t have complete control over our foreign policy?