Iran is having none of Trump’s two-faced nonsense. In response to the unwarranted new sanctions imposed by his administration, it announced counter-sanctions. In a hard-hitting speech that drove home many points, Iran’s Supreme Leader thanked Trump for exposing the real face of the US. And in a related move, Iran took another step to de-dollarize its economy. Wouldn’t it be nice if we grew a spine and walked with our heads up like Iran?

But then, the leaders of Iran are sovereign, not slaves of imperial masters. They have not mortgaged their country to conniving money-lenders who enslave governments with chains of debt; bearing gifts of blankets deliberately infected with germs to make nations sick, weak and vulnerable. The leaders of Iran do not run their country on borrowed money. Unlike the power-players who pose as our leaders, they do not believe in the dollar as believers believe in God.

Consider this: Governor of Central Bank of Iran has announced that the dollar will not be used in official reporting from March when Iran starts its next fiscal year. Over the years, the US dollar’s share in the country’s foreign exchange has been made insignificant. There is a concerted effort to de-dollarize the economy and by-pass the dollar while trading with other countries. Agreements to stop using the dollar have been signed with Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Russia among others.

To my mind, this refusal to bow down to the Dollar-god is the key to Iran’s independence and pro-people policies. Because it doesn’t depend on the next tranche of borrowed dollars to run the country, Iran doesn’t have to compromise its national interest to please imperial masters who lend them. It doesn’t have to tailor its economic policies and priorities for the benefit of multinational corporations. It doesn’t have to dance to the anti-people neo-liberal tunes of foreign lenders and donors; cold-blooded shylocks disguised as well-meaning messiahs.

The power-players posing as our oh-so-democratic leaders are clearly convinced that the only way they could run the country is by borrowing money, preferably dollars. They go round and round big and small temples of the Dollar-god, begging for alms and favourable ratings and reports. We dished out $6.5 billion for servicing our foreign debt in 2015-16. In 2016-17 this is estimated to go up to $8.4 billion. There’s no plan in sight to bring down foreign debt liabilities that stand at $75 billion.

The PML-N government that has added the big chunk of 35% to the net public debt of Rs18.28 trillion seems to consider it a great achievement. It is accumulating debt upon debt as if they were colourful feathers for its cap. What good are development projects and public welfare schemes if they stand upon the quicksand of borrowed money? Shouldn’t we be concerned if the development projects are over-priced and the schemes for public welfare spurious? If there is no strategy to pay back what we have borrowed?

Look closely at the development projects and welfare schemes that the bulk of this borrowed money funds and it is not hard to see that most of the debt accumulated by successive Pakistani governments is actually odious. Take the PML-N government’s Zarai package and health cards worth hundreds of billion rupees, for instance. They have done little more than benefit the agricultural and pharmaceutical corporations and provided venues for patronage and corruption.

As long as it keeps getting a good report card from its masters, the government is happy borrowing money as if there were no tomorrow and no paying back. It would like to base our economic planning on loans and grants and bend over backwards to please those who hold its purse-strings. It would like to privatise everything that has not been privatised yet, from airports to registration of motor-vehicles. It is borrowing dollars on interest to just keep them, padding up the foreign exchange reserve as per the IMF diktat.

Let’s not be misled by all the positive reports about Pakistan’s economy being floated these days by the wizards and monks of the Dollar-god. They are happy to see us getting deeper and deeper into their trap and are egging us on to solvency. They’d like to promote a government that is doing a good job for them, providing them ample opportunity to spread their poisonous tentacles in the CPEC-generated activity. The corridor has provided a boost no doubt, but there is a lot more to worry about on the debt-front.

Besides, this blind unshakeable faith in the omnipotence of the Dollar-god on part of our so-called leaders, and their abject dependence on it, is the biggest hurdle in the path of independence that Pakistan has embarked upon. The reorientation of our security and foreign policies away from the US and towards the China-Russia nexus is a welcome development. But our transition to a truly independent state cannot be complete with our purse-strings tied to the Dollar-god.

We will continue to promise to do more for Uncle Sam as long as we run our country on borrowed dollars. Like indebted slaves before their master, we would never be able to defend our rights and speak our mind. Consider this: The Iranian Foreign Ministry has said that in response to the new illegal sanctions imposed by the US, Iran would slap legal restrictions on American individuals and entities involved in founding, funding and facilitating regional terrorist groups.

And lastly, in a world that seems to see nothing beyond matter, consider what Ayatollah Khamenei said: “An unexpected provision should be hoped for in anything that the believing front does. It is true that logical and material calculations are necessary, but sometimes we should open up to counting on the supernatural too. Such a blessing is achieved through endeavour and wisdom, accompanied by hope and trust in God. However, if we use wisdom and prudence while trusting the Satan, the result will be a mirage. In any matter, including diplomacy and the country’s problems, trusting demons and materialistic power, which oppose your essence, leads to a mirage”.