A clear direction in Pakistan’s foreign policy could provide the decisive impetus towards ending the toxic US presence in our region, a curse that hangs over the door to a peaceful and prosperous future for our neighbourhood. What we see instead is our leadership drifting around the globe without purpose in a Brownian dance, dithering to embrace our true partners with passion and lingering in the arms of two-faced lovers who whisper sweet nothings in our ear as they stab us in the back.

In the last couple of years, Pakistan has come a long way; from being written off as a failed state to being courted by all and sundry. There is a queue of suitors at the door. All of them pay compliments about the beauty of our counter-terrorism operation, going down on their knees to offer rings of engagement and propose partnerships. That’s a good development but where do we go from here? Obviously, it doesn’t make sense to flirt with everyone. Some of them are not worth it.

It should not be hard for us to discern who is worth it and who is not. After all, the countries extending their hands of friendship and cooperation are no strangers. Some of them, like the US and its lawless cabal, we have been in bed with for years. They are the ones who stabbed us in the back, time and time again. They are the ones who threw acid on our face and turned around to tell us how ugly we had become. We can’t afford to be distracted by their tricks yet again.

However, those in charge of our destiny can’t seem to get over their love for this devious gang and the dollar-crumbs and fickle friendship it throws their way. They can’t seem to gather the will or the courage to make a clean break, something that is essential for whole-heartedly embracing genuine partners extending their warm hands to us and for reaching out to countries with whom we could turn the page for the region, and for our world.

Take the quadrilateral peace talks on Afghanistan, for instance. With the US sitting on the table, it would be naïve to expect any progress within that format. The US needs instability in Afghanistan to justify its occupation of the country and retain a foothold there to foment trouble in countries in the neighbourhood. Let’s be very clear about one thing; there won’t be any peace in Afghanistan until the US is sent back home. This won’t come about by cooperating with the US but through coordination among countries in the region.

After talks with President Putin in Moscow earlier this week, President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov said that attempts to resolve the Afghan issue without Russian involvement were ‘unreasoned and precipitous’. He hit the nail on the head. Instead of wasting its energies on the quadrilateral process, Pakistan must focus on coordinating its efforts for peace in Afghanistan with other SCO members and Iran, with a view to put pressure on the US to withdraw its forces from the country.

To understand the deception behind any peace moves and negotiations that involve the US, one only needs to take a look at what’s happening in Syria despite the ceasefire and peace talks in Geneva. The US is providing more weapons including anti-aircraft missiles to its terrorist proxies through Turkey and Jordan. Obama announced to increase the declared number of US boots on Syrian ground from 50 to 300. Behind the façade of the Minsk agreement, the US is similarly fanning the war in Ukraine.

Let’s be clear about another thing; the world is clearly divided and at war. In the relentless pursuit of full-spectrum domination, the US-led empire is engaged in what political analyst Andrew Korybko calls hybrid wars against those challenging its imperialist ambition. China and Russia are the prime targets but they are not the only ones. Iran, other states in BRICS and countries with socialist governments in Latin America like Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, are all targets.

Sensing the winds of change blowing across the globe, the empire has gone into an overdrive, fomenting trouble from Africa to South East Asia, in any state daring to go even slightly out of its orbit. The NGO-driven colour revolutions, the regime change operations through terrorist proxies, economic sanctions, propaganda, sowing mistrust among neighbouring states, spreading chaos in societies through sponsored groups mouthing divisive human rights agendas, are all tools in the arsenal of the empire.

So, you might wonder, how would clarity on our part provide a decisive impetus towards an end to US presence in the region? Korybko points out that Pakistan is the ‘zipper’ of pan-Eurasian integration, “…uniquely poised to zip together a variety of economic blocs, taking advantage of both its convenient geography and China’s grand investment vision to make it happen.”

What our leadership needs to understand is that we cannot sit on the fence. We can’t build the CPEC without becoming a target of destabilisation. We can’t hope to strengthen our relations with Russia without shunning the empire. It doesn’t make sense that the Interior ministry has allowed the Open Societies Foundation of George Soros that specialises in fomenting colour revolutions to operate in Pakistan, that the USAID is free to fund programs to alienate the minorities. It doesn’t make sense that we continue to discuss counter-terrorism cooperation with countries that sponsor and facilitate terrorism.

This is the mother of all crossroads. We must choose which way wish to go and then focus on gaining speed in that direction. There is no real choice of course. The road of the empire leads to the valley of certain death. Our future lies with the anti-imperialist China-Russia nexus and the SCO.

As an example of clarity in foreign policy, here’s a quote from an interview that the speaker of the Iranian parliament gave to Tass: “Our orientation to the east, first of all to Russia, is our strategic choice. So we will open a special “file” for Russia, for Russia’s role in the economy and infrastructure of Iran.”

The writer is a freelance columnist.

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