One thread runs through almost every matter of national significance these days, from the recent terrorist attack in Quetta to the increasing tension between the government and military leadership. It is time to stop running around like headless chickens, treating each matter separately and ignoring the thread that connects them: The imperial war against Pakistan is rapidly escalating on many fronts. Surely, it is time we got our house in order.

The fairy-tale about our oh-so-democratic government and the current military leadership being on the same page has been exposed for it was; a fairy-tale. Differences had cropped up right at the beginning of their relationship, with the launching of Zarb-e-Azb, and they have only exacerbated over time. This was to be expected given the divergent directions in which the two would like to take Pakistan. As has lately become quite clear, let alone the same page, the two are not even reading the same book.

Look closely and it is not hard to decipher the titles of the strikingly different books the two are reading. The government team holds the Imperial Manual for Vassals edited by Uncle Sam; ministers and bureaucrats diligently cramming up chapters relevant to their ministries and departments for faithful implementation. This is the book our ruling elites, civil and military, have been reading for most of our history even after independence. This comprehensive manual for perpetual dependence has brought us to this sorry state of slavery.

Pundits of political correctness might find it hard to swallow but the military leadership has started reading the latest best-seller: Win-Win Multi-polar Partnership co-authored by China and Russia. This is the new book that has taken the world by storm and is redefining its contours. This is the book that promises a better future for the world, especially for developing countries shackled and targeted by the empire like Pakistan. It’s a pity our government is stuck on the imperial manual.

The Nawaz government is happy receiving certificates of good performance from the IMF, World Bank and the ADB, promising to continue managing the economy like an obedient vassal, as prescribed in the relevant chapter of the imperial manual. But according to the Chairman of Senate Standing Committee on Finance & Revenue, the government has brought the country to the brink of default by borrowing over $24 billion in its tenure so far, increasing Pakistan’s external debt servicing from $933 million in 2013 to $1339 million in 2016, a rise of nearly 44 percent.

No wonder the IMF and all are giving certificates of good performance to the government. Debt is the tool they use to dictate economic policies to vassals, policies designed to cripple their economies and make them even more dependent on their multi-million dollar tranches for survival. Debt is the tool the empire uses to arm-twist developing countries into following not only the path of development that favours the corporations under its wings but also a foreign policy that suits its geopolitical interests.

In a joint press conference with our Finance Minister, the IMF Managing Director felicitated the government for the successful completion of the IMF-supported economic reforms package and informed us that Pakistan’s close partnership with IMF will continue through the ongoing policy dialogue and capacity-building engagement. Actually, a sort of a ritual took place in Islamabad this week, where the formal charge of a vassal state was transferred from the IMF to ADB, that is expected to dole out $1.47 billion to Pakistan this year.

The ADB President who was in town met the IMF Managing Director and our Prime Minister. He said he was ‘highly encouraged by the government’s resolve to stay on course’. Meanwhile, The World Bank, in its annual Doing Business 2017 report has concluded that Pakistan is among the 10 ‘most-improved’ economies out of 190 reviewed by the bank. Such unqualified support and appreciation by the grave-diggers of developing economies should have us worried. It comes with a heavy cost.

For instance, this Tuesday, the Supreme Court dismissed a plea by Power Construction Corporation of China Ltd to be allowed to participate in the bidding process of Dasu Hydropower project. PCCCL is a state-owned enterprise active in the industry since the 1950s and responsible for more than 65 percent of China’s hydropower projects, including the Three Gorges Hydropower project which is the largest in the world. So why can’t it bid for building the Dasu project?

Well, the government represented by the Additional Attorney General informed the court that the World Bank has the authority to approve the name of any company for the bidding and it had asked the federal government to reject the Chinese company’s plea to be included in the bidding process. In case you haven’t guessed it by now, the Dasu Hydropower project is partly funded by the World Bank Group. Talk about shackles of dependence. They hamper us in more ways than one.

President Putin called up President Mamnoon and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to offer condolences over the Quetta attack and reiterate Russia’s readiness to further enhance anti-terrorism cooperation with Pakistan. Earlier during the BRICS summit at Goa, along with China, Russia had scuttled Indian efforts to denounce Pakistan as a terrorist state. A counter-terrorism partnership with Russia would help us rid the region of empire-sponsored terrorism emanating from Afghanistan. Yet, the government hasn’t made any move to reciprocate Russia’s friendly overtures. Iran says it would like to be a part of the CPEC, but the government seems to have just left it at that.

These are just a few recent instances that highlight the subservience of the Nawaz government to the imperial manual. The list could go on and on. At a time when the empire is escalating its war against us, such subservience is suicidal. It lies at the root of our biggest woes and is a major hurdle in charting out a new path that could help us become independent and prosperous. Clearly, there is more to the civil-military tension than a simple turf war.