Finally, a strong ray of hope has emerged from Shanghai, brightening these dark and violent days under the empire. Our west-obsessed media and political elite, and the bulk of public discourse they generate, is faced the other way; oscillating within the small spectrum beamed from Washington DC. So, while much is said to humanize corporate tea-boy Modi, there’s hardly a word about the unveiling of a revolution by China and Russia.

The prime minister says that his priority in foreign relations is our neighbors. Great idea. The question is: Does it all boil down to adjusting to Indian hegemony as ordered by the empire? Must we look at Iran through the prism of US sanctions and animosity? Must we keep SCO at an arm’s distance to keep borrowed dollars trickling in? Dollars that work like shackles and traps, and that, at the end of the day, amount to nothing.

As Noam Chomsky says, “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.” So while our leaders and media are constantly talking about the TTP, nobody talks about where the terrorists under the TTP shura are getting their guns, gadgets and cash from. We hear much about the number of dollars in our reserves but nobody stops to question the dollar-god itself and the absurdity of the architecture of international finance that runs the world today. We would do well to tune into Shanghai where leaders are clearly beginning to hum a different tune.

Ironically, our media practically missed the second meeting between the presidents of Russia and China this year, downplaying its significance for Pakistan, as well as other countries trapped in the debilitating prison of western imperialism. Alarmed by the empire’s war-mongering right on their borders, China and Russia are speeding up their joint efforts to resist it. They have coordinated their efforts to check the bullying and bull-dozing of US-led thugs before, more notably in Syria, but now they seem ready to take their multi-faceted cooperation to the next level.

It is not just the game-changing deals on energy cooperation that are being signed by the two or the significant joint naval drill in the South China sea that the US would like to turn into another conflict zone. It is not just the strengthening of coordination on Ukraine and in the UN or the creation around the SCO of an alliance against Nato’s unilateral badmashi. It is also the tone of the statements and joint declarations coming out from Shanghai.

Opening the CICA summit that coincided with the important bilateral huddle, the Chinese President Xi Jinping said that “security problems in Asia should be solved by Asians themselves”. In a clear reference to the US-led Nato, he stated, “We cannot just have the security of one or some countries while leaving the rest insecure” and that “no country should seek absolute security for itself at the expense of others.” At a time when the empire is accelerating military interventions on spurious pretexts of pre-empting possible threats to its security, these are welcome words.

Many African countries are seeing a return of naked colonialism with American and European soldiers on the ground to guard puppet governments there and the corporate interests they serve in turn. Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have been destroyed on false pretexts. The empire doesn’t mind engineering pretexts for intervention where it is difficult to invent them, as we have seen in Ukraine, Syria and Venezuela. The IMF, aid agencies and INGOs have been exposed as tools of the empire. The empire and its proxies also fund, train, arm and unleash militants of all hues, from ethnic fascists to religious extremists, on targeted countries.

The USAID’s clandestine “Cuban Twitter” project, the National Endowment for Democracy’s hand in fuelling riots in Venezuela, and on and on: The list is endless and no longer a secret. Russia booted out USAID from the country when it discovered that the aid money was being used to bring people on the street against the government. Democracy, human rights, and a plethora of neo-liberal values are routinely used as weapons of war. In this context, the joint statement from Shanghai on President Vladimir Putin’s visit should not be taken lightly. Among other things, it says:

“The parties emphasize the need to respect the historical heritage of countries, their cultural traditions and independently chosen socio-political systems, system of values and ways of development; to resist interference in the internal affairs of other states, abandon the language of single-handed sanctions as well as assistance, financing or encouraging the activities aimed to change the constitutional regime of another state or involve it in a multilateral association or union”.

Clearly, the security and economic cooperation being fostered in our region by China and Russia is the way ahead. It not only provides a bulwark against the military unilateralism of the empire, but also challenges the many wily ways in which it controls the world by positioning itself as its conscience and also its self-appointed policeman. It creates a perspective which help us see all the germs in the philanthropic blankets of the empire and an umbrella under which we could find refuge from a marauding monster knocking at our door.

In any case, the barbaric empire is on its death-bed. The dollar is losing credibility as a currency for international trade and the throne of neo-liberal economic and social values propped up by it is destined to crash sooner than later. Iran is already on board this emerging alliance in our neighborhood, and it would be in our interests to join it.

But the heads of our leaders and our media are turned in the opposite direction. The prime minister is exclusively excited about new governments in an India conquered by the empire and an Afghanistan occupied by it. He sent our figurehead president to the last SCO meeting instead of attending it himself. And as far as the media is concerned, it couldn’t seem to care less about what’s brewing in Shanghai.

The writer is a freelance columnist.