The drift of the first high-level interaction of our new government with the US administration is clear: Pakistan will continue to play the role of a facilitator for the US meddling in the region. With economic policy conveniently outsourced to the IMF already, this easy surrender to the US strategic diktat diminishes the hope for the turning of a new leaf. It is unfortunate because the need to do so is urgent.

It is not difficult to decipher the sharpening contours of the undeclared war on Pakistan once you snap out of the hypnosis of the US “War on Terror” narrative. But our civil and military leadership seems to be under a spell; rolling out red carpets in the capital for the enemy and devising half-honest roles for itself to fit into the imperial script.

After all, the patently false and tyrannical framework of “War on Terror” is a poor justification for imperial ambition. The project is not meant to protect us, or anyone for that matter, from barbarian hordes. In fact, it is designed to suck entire states and societies into its violence-ridden broadening vortex. Pakistan might be designated as an ally and a front-line state in this scheme of things for public consumption. But let’s face it; we are a prime target and under attack.

American drones not only spy on the most sensitive parts of Pakistani territory bordering Afghanistan at will, they also rain missiles and bombs as a routine and have killed thousands of innocent citizens in the tribal belt, turning their meager settlements into ruins. The visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry flatly refused to bring an end to these repeated acts of aggression, brushing aside the humble requests of the Pakistani leadership. Apparently, this was not an important point on the agenda—at least not important enough to impact the direction of the bilateral discussion which ended with warm hand-shakes, diversionary promises and meaningless clichés.

It was reported that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif emphasised Pakistan’s desire to get access to the American markets to boost the economy and assistance in overcoming the energy crisis. It is ironical that while the US unilaterally drones us, the two sides resolved to fight the “common threat” of terrorism. It was also decided to resume the strategic dialogue to move relations forward. Shouldn’t we give some thought to what had pushed them back in the first place?

Drones, of course, are only a part of the multi-faceted and otherwise undeclared war waged by the US on the state of Pakistan. The Raymond Davis episode had exposed the large-scale clandestine intelligence operation the CIA was running under the garb of intelligence sharing. When thousands of CIA agents posing as diplomats and consultants were told to leave, the CIA boss boasted that the move would not disrupt the agency’s work as a local intelligence network had been put into place.

We caught a clear glimpse of this local network courtesy Shakeel Afridi, who hid behind a vaccination drive to collect DNA samples that are supposed to have led to Osama Bin Laden and the Abottabad operation. Through the controversial operation about which serious questions remain unanswered, the US tried to establish the right to bring its boots on Pakistani ground and wage its murky war with full abandon. Despite Trojan horses in our midst who congratulated Obama for the successful attack, this was resisted and boots on the ground declared a red line. The increasing Pak-US estrangement became official after the Salala attack in 2011 and the so-called strategic partnership dialogue was disrupted. Is there any point in resuming a farcical dialogue with someone who wields a dagger under his cloak?  

Has the US stepped back from its shady shenanigans in what it calls the AfPak region? Events in the Middle East and northern Africa should cure us of any such optimism. If anything, the nexus between the two-faced super power and terrorist groups has become clearer. It was largely hidden after Iraq’s invasion, came out in the open during Libyan intervention and stands fully exposed in Syria. If anything, the US and its Nato allies have become more blatant about aiding, arming and training terrorist outfits for sowing chaos in targeted societies and changing regimes that resist the strangling embrace of the empire or do not fit into its larger plans for the planet. So should we play its game in Afghanistan with the hope of fitting in?

It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out the game. Kerry made a point to educate his hosts about the difference between withdrawal and drawdown, affirming the US commitment to maintain its occupation of Afghanistan. What is basically required of us is to stabilise its control on Afghanistan by peddling power-sharing talks with the Taliban, bringing its tormentors to the table and helping it buy the support of factions willing to go along with it so that things could be managed with fewer troops. A cheap exit through our territory is taken for granted since the resumption of Nato supplies. Meanwhile, the war against Pakistan will continue and not be discussed.

The dots are there to be connected, if we bother to see beyond the US narrative that is falling apart with each passing day. The peddlers of divisive identity politics being nurtured in Nato capitals, the unrelenting propaganda onslaught against the “intolerant” Pakistani society and “rogue” state institutions, the ever-ready bogeys of nuclear proliferation, terrorist sanctuaries and nukes falling in the hands of terrorists, the fanning of sectarianism through middle eastern partners, the cultivation of media and donor-driven intelligentsia are all tried and tested tactics that we have seen at work in recent history in the service of the empire.

It is crucial that Pakistan distances itself from the US gameplan in the region and devise an Afghanistan/Counter-terrorism policy in partnership with Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours, a policy that aims to end the US occupation of Afghanistan and counter the undeclared war on Pakistan. The new government seems oblivious to the need for this course-correction.

The writer is a freelance columnist.