It is difficult to believe that the cruel farce being staged by the Nawaz government in the name of dialogue is actually happening. Despite the TTP’s announcement to end the so-called ceasefire and its declared resumption of terrorist activities, despite its categorical rejection of Pakistan’s Constitution and unchanged resolve to attack the state, security personnel and people of Pakistan, the government’s enthusiasm to fall for the tricks of a deceptive devil continues unabated. There has to be some explanation for this behavior. Could it be the curse of the Dollar-god?

It is unlikely that the government is completely clueless about what’s happening in the world. It can’t be blind to how the empire is blatantly using agents of chaos and violence to destabilize targeted countries and push them in the direction desired. These agents speak the language of ethnic fascism as in Ukraine, of freedom and human rights as in Venezuela, or of sectarian Islam as in Syria. The common thread, running through these apparently diverse upheavals, is that they target governments unwilling to dance to imperial tunes. Another common thread is that the empire has funded, trained and armed the perpetrators of violence in each case.

It is obvious that the empire has invested heavily in nurturing a wide variety of agents of chaos and violence in Pakistan. Its cultivation of Baloch insurgents and their leaders and support for Baloch separatism is no secret. It has funded the fragmentation of discourse in the country by promoting identity politics through NGOs and other ethnic and sectarian groups. The TTP and its brand of sectarian Islam being spread through terror has the stamp of the empire and its middle-eastern proxies etched clearly on its forehead. And to tip the balance in the favor of its agents, the empire is hell-bent on weakening Pakistan’s security apparatus. So why would our government wish to live in a bubble, aloof from all these grave concerns?

In fact, the Nawaz government comes across as a willing tool in the hands of the empire. It chooses to point its fingers in all directions except the one that matters. In the case of TTP, its eagerness to appease and strengthen the terrorist grouping defies all logic. It has sought to push the military leadership on the defensive using the Musharraf trial to bring it around to the unacceptable terms of truce with the TTP. The government committee for talks is clearly paving the way for freeing more, and more dangerous, TTP men and giving them a safe haven of sorts. Wittingly or unwittingly, the government seems to have teamed up with the terrorists against its own military. Is it a willing slave of the empire or has it been blinded by the curse of the empire’s Dollar-god?

The Dollar-god, after all, is not just an idol stuffed with dollar notes that its followers pay ritualistic homage to on special days only, free to do whatever they please otherwise. It sits on a throne atop a whole belief system imposed on the world through trickery and military might. First and foremost, it demands an unshakeable faith in the absolute value of the Dollar, a world currency with no real worth. The markets of greed and injustice that it lords over are to be held sacred. Its propaganda tools disguised as prestigious news organizations are to be treated as divine scripture and the frameworks of all discussions are to be defined by them.

Every day, devoted disciples in international financial institution and trading bodies, big business and big banks, top universities and think-tanks, priests of the Dollar-god, faithfully chant its meaningless mantras, forever leading us to a mirage of prosperity. The US government, practically reduced to a mafia of moneyed lobbies by the Dollar-god, serves as its head priest; herding other governments to bow at its temple and keeping the dissenters in line. It brings ‘salvation’ to compliant countries through paltry dollars in aid and loans, and punishes those who do not do its bidding with sanctions, subversion and military intervention.

Bribes and threats both have the same objective: slavish obedience. But most importantly, the reign of the Dollar-god thrives through the enslavement of the mind; people looking at their lives, and leaders looking at their countries, through its prism. The good news is that people and leaders around the world are waking up and learning ways to free themselves, except those in charge of our destiny, it seems. Our leaders carry on as if nothing has changed and the demise of the Dollar-god is not on the horizon. What would make them wish to lose their chains and move beyond their learned helplessness in the face of a god with feet of clay? Perhaps they should read Iqbal anew.

Though he is acclaimed as the national poet of Pakistan, Allama Iqbal’s ideas don’t seem to inspire our national leaders much. Mouthing buzz-words from neo-liberal bibles and swearing by clever verses of statistical jugglery, they don’t seem to have time or regard for anything that lies outside the universe of the dollar-led global economy. It is not only Nawaz Sharif and his coterie; the entire spectrum of our power elite seems to have sworn its allegiance to the Dollar-god and the anti-human empire that it runs. Obviously, they don’t have much time for Iqbal.

Our leaders might mouth verses of Iqbal and eulogize a toothless version of him, but they don’t allow his powerful verses to sink in and inspire them. They can’t afford to. They’d like to beg and borrow while Iqbal would teach them the virtues of independence. They’d like to talk to the terrorists while he would point them out as a fitna. They’d like to indulge the upholders of divisive identities while he would admonish them to rise above such trivia. They’d like to outsource religion to professional clerics and their frivolous debates while he would urge them to connect to God through personal effort and universal humanitarianism. They’d like to bow down to the Dollar-god while he would have none of it.

 The writer is a freelance columnist.