Our democracy circus is shedding its clothes, exposing its ugly nakedness in full public view. The self-obsessed pygmies and stooges that parade around as our leaders are busy polishing up their democracy-stunts for the grand show that begins next week. They claim to speak for us, all of them. But none of them would like to take on the monster that is the bane of our existence. In fact, they all seem determined to lead us to the tragic ending scripted for us by the empire. How could witting or unwitting tools of a barbaric empire do us any good?

The killing of besieged children in Gaza by Israel, the murderous spoilt brat of the US-led empire, has thankfully stopped. Clearly, it was not the goriest episode enacted by an empire whose history is littered with millions of innocent dead bodies on every continent. Episodes of empire-generated violence and mass murder, much worse than the recent attack on the besieged people of Gaza in terms of numbers, are unfolding in our world as we speak. Yet, this recent sacrifice of Palestinians has hastened the unraveling of the monstrous empire more significantly than its other victims.

In countless other places including Pakistan, the empire has deliberately killed children and women as well as elderly and unarmed civilians; either directly as in Iraq and Afghanistan or through their mercenary militias as in Libya and Syria. It goes around encouraging and supporting violent coups by friendly dictators as in Egypt or hijacking popular movements to install its violent puppets in Ukraine. So why should it be worried about the consequences of the recent bloodshed in Gaza? How could the killing of a few hundred children affect a world where mass murder is routine? Well, clearly, it has.

This could be because the recent killing of besieged children in Gaza is something that refuses to go away and it continues to haunt the conscience of people around the globe, even those in the corridors of imperial power and on the orderly streets of imperial capitals. It could also be because of the cumulative affect of the empire’s countless crimes against humanity and the growing awareness about the dangerous games it plays. Perhaps, Gaza served as the small last piece that completed the jigsaw puzzle for many people around the world, enabling them to see the empire in its ugly nakedness and brutality.

Despite the pro-Israel propaganda of the mainstream western media, the tragedy in Gaza managed to demonstrate very clearly the barbarity and hypocrisy of the imperial order, and the complicity of rich and poor governments in the murder of a besieged population. Perhaps, it crystallized the revulsion people around the world feel for such inhumanity and injustice and it brought the empire in focus as the culprit. Except for those who don’t wish to see it, the empire stands naked in full public view. And for anyone following its trajectory, Pakistan is definitely on its hit-list.

So why is the entire spectrum of our political leadership mum about it? Why do they continue to live in the bubble of the self-serving democracy circus they have created around themselves? Why is no party willing to articulate the much-needed national narrative to break the imperial stranglehold that clearly threatens us? Why is there no attempt to put together a strategy to move away from the dollar, the architecture of international finance built around it and its failed neo-liberal policies? Can we even think about a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan without challenging the violent imperial order and the way it runs the global economy? Can we talk about democracy imprisoned within a rigged world?

Saving or toppling the government is all very well, but when the debate refuses to address the biggest challenges facing the nation, it has obviously nothing to do with us or democracy. There is no point in attributing blame to the opposition or the government for bringing us to this point. The various circuses of democracy in the developing world are not designed to address such challenges. The circuses in the name of democracy are designed to serve as tools of the empire, giving the semblance of self-rule while strengthening imperial control over our destinies.

Enclosed within their big and small elitist power camps infested with flattery and intrigue, our political leadership presides over well-entrenched colonial structures of pillage and patronage. Our democracy circus is replete with one-man acts with a chorus of rich bandwagon-riders obsessed with more power and privilege. They flash fragments of truth for partisan goals. They head off to their foreign patrons for consultations and invest abroad. Rather than clearly telling us as to how they’ll set our house in order, they keep us guessing about which old and new tricks would come out of their power-hungry bags.

It’s disappointing that Imran Khan’s PTI that emerged as a hope for a new kind of politics is fast losing that distinction. It all started with making room for electables within the party and now the traditional mindset has taken over. Intra-party elections were touted as a step to introduce democracy within the party; a great idea. It was the first time that a political party in the country undertook such an exercise, so one can overlook the many glitches. But how does one explain the failure to integrate the elected party structure in the formulation of policies and the decision-making process? What was the point in holding those elections if, at the end of the day, the chairman and his elitist coterie were to take all the decisions?

We knew about the fickleness of our well-entrenched political players and their subservience to the imperial order. Unfortunately, Imran Khan’s PTI has also joined the circus. It is the second largest party in the country but it is beginning to sound more and more like Tahirul Qadri who says all the right things about what is wrong with the system but has no credible solutions to offer other than violence. And though, unlike the rabble-rouser from Canada, Imran Khan has not been nurtured by the empire to create chaos, he is helping that agenda.

 The writer is a freelance columnist.