Jalees Hazir While our government continues to parrot inanities within the imperialist framework, Iranian President Ahmedinejad spoke clearly at the UN with a homegrown voice. Refusing to be trapped in the cunning maze of concepts and jargon that the framework employs to give cover to naked aggression and plunder, he drove to the heart of the basic problem afflicting our world: the hypocrisy and unending greed of the so-called developed countries. As this US-led unethical conglomerate gets into high gear in Pakistan, the need for building an indigenous framework for understanding the country and its priorities has become urgent to save us from poverty, chaos and destruction. Dollar dole-outs cant help us. They bring more misery to the people they set out to help. It is not just the President or Prime Minister of Pakistan that speak like public relations officers promoting the imperialist framework. Invariably, the chief ministers and governors, the ministers and advisers, the MNAs and MPAs, the coalition partners and opposition parties, all join the alien chorus when it comes to talking about Pakistan and Pakistanis. The bureaucrats and NGO activists are no different. Even in the media and civil society groups, the discourse refers back to the same jargon. What we are witnessing is the integration of leadership across official, political and social sectors in this essentially exploitative framework. Too crippled and too afraid to think with their own minds, they swear by the new bible that their masters have taught them. The neoliberal bible, like the bible that the burdened white men carried in previous centuries, is little more than an excuse for subjugating local populations, taking over their resources, and exploiting them both most savagely in order to ship riches to their distant homelands. Like old times, it is backed by the force of more sophisticated weaponry. There are some differences though. The new bible does not talk of God and Satan, sins and salvation, but of concepts like Democracy, Human Rights and Globalisation. It has its own commandments; deregulation, denationalization, free markets, exchange rates, foreign direct investments, intellectual property rights, inflation adjustment and tax cuts. This new creed and its holy warriors must not be allowed to go unchallenged. They have more than one chink in their weak armour. To begin with, there are the conceptual problems. Spewing statistics and economic theory like the word of God, the 'holy warriors of this new secular creed have no place for the human spirit or the environment. Tokenism of inter-faith harmony and environmental conservation might find some space in their framework, but these important issues of contemporary human civilisation are treated more like things to be dealt with, damage-control tools in a system designed for the maximisation of profit for a few. There is no recognition of the fact that their new religion is creating conflicts, dividing humanity and destroying the environment. They think that they could conduct the global economy like a scientific experiment in a controlled environment of known variables. Their economics is heavily tilted in favour of the haves and militates against the have-nots. Is it not supposed to be the other way around? More dangerous than these conceptual shortcomings, is the blatant selective application of the theoretical framework. Subsidies and protection, tariffs and trades, sanctions and FTAs, democracy and human rights, the concepts are little more than props for the perpetuation and consolidation of an unjust economic order. Aids and grants are supposed to help you stand on your feet but as a rule turn into debt traps that are difficult, if not impossible, to get out of. Social development is imposed with arrogance and without sensitivity to the indigenous cultural processes, creating disruption instead of progress, conflict instead of harmony. Even if one were to agree in principle to the canons of this creed, the contradictions in how they are applied in different situations are too blatantly obvious to ignore. Yet you see the tyranny of this new creed embraced by our leadership sedated by injections of budgetary support and development grants, its stale breath suspended over the country like a bad spell. Ironically, the religious fanatics of every variety (Hindus, Christians, Muslims, you name it), who are a mirror image of these secular 'holy warriors, have tried to monopolise resistance to this new creed. Together, the two sides have colluded to confuse issues. They call each other bad names, shout threats and abuse from their political pulpits and donor-driven conference podiums. They take up arms to kill each other but kill more innocent civilians than their sworn enemies. Whether it is the terrorists or NATO, their wars seem to be directed more against unarmed citizens rather than each other. They feed on each others evil, and become bigger evils in the process. In the middle of all this death and destruction, the routine of neoliberal progress continues unaffected. Corporations land lucrative contracts, cartels make money from food shortages and precious national resources are sold to foreign companies for peanuts; the development agenda of the developed world marches on with more vigour. There is a silver lining though. There are people, here in Pakistan and all over the world who are waking up to the catastrophe that these 'holy warriors of the religious and liberal varieties are leading us to. Having understood the illusory nature of the paradises on offer by the twin brigades and the death and destruction brought about by their creeds, they are building the blocks of a new consciousness and a new framework of co-existence, one that respects the right of people over their resources and sees them as equal citizens of the world, a framework that does not view the natural environment as a problem to be tackled, but the basis of a prosperous world. Iran might not be a perfect country. Its democratic institutions might work under the watchful gaze of a clergy that is not answerable to the people. There might be a myriad of political, social and economic issues that it is confronted with. But it is clearly moving in the right direction to overcome its problems. And mind you, it is not the wealth of oil that is helping the Iranian people. It is because they have found a voice that is very much their own.