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Pakistan in the jaws of Structural Imperialism

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Pakistan in the jaws of

Structural Imperialism

With the changing regional and global geopolitical realities, along with the pivot of international power centers moving from West to East, Pakistan, under the leadership of a nationalist Prime Minister Imran Khan has witnessed a shift in its foreign policy priorities. The PM’s two recent visits, especially the one to Russia, are particularly crucial. Since decades, Pakistan has been struggling hard to keep pace with the changing – and rising – demands of its ‘major non-Nato ally’, the United States. Despite the services Pakistan has rendered at the cost of its national security, it has been pictured a brute failure in pleasing Uncle Sam. At the same time, successive Pakistani rulers could not muster up courage to stand clear and rational over their national interests. They could not take formulate a balanced foreign policy. On the other hand, the best possible alternative to the West – besides China – Moscow was also reluctant to engage with Islamabad probably due to the historical burden of longstanding divergence of interests and a chronic trust deficit. It has been analyzed that major reason of the recent bonhomie between the two countries is their leaders; President Putin and PM Imran Khan. Overall, Pakistan’s foreign policy under PM Khan has witnessed a rapid transition. On this front, the captain is playing on the front foot and Pakistan is seemingly setting its priorities right.

PM Khan has been working to internationalize the thinking of its people. Recently, in a public gathering, PM Khan revealed about a letter from envoys of European Union countries to Pakistan pressing it to reprimand Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. The Pakistani premier was very categorical in not accepting dictates from the outsiders, vehemently clarifying that Pakistanis were not “slaves to anyone.” He also asked the envoys if the similar letter was also written to India to stop as India too abstained from doing the same. Again, the PM stressed, the EU member states never condemned India’s inhuman actions against helpless Kashmiris. The PM also explained to the people in the rally how Pakistan’s huge sacrifices in terms of men and material were never duly acknowledged by the United States and its partners. So, Pakistan would no more act to pursue any one else’s gains. “We seek friendship with everyone,” he said, and reiterated that Pakistan is friends with Russia, the US, Europe and China, and was not part of “any camp.” But the fact of the matter is Western capitals, the edifices of Western dominance and supremacy, have literally been stirred up due to the emerging alliance of Pakistan, Russia and China. The most irritating to the west is that Pakistan, in spite of still being financially dependent on the West, has not only verbally but also practically turned down their ‘instructions’. Moreover, the issues Imran Khan has raised at all international forums such as Islamophobia, Sanctity of the Prophet of Islam (PBUH), grave human rights violations in Kashmir and other occupied regions around the world, and such other issues afflicting the Muslim world, are at no cost acceptable for the Western supremacists.

Thus seeing through the lens of ‘Dependency Theory’ of international relations, the aforementioned are not ordinary developments by a dependent state; Pakistan. The hegemon, the US, seems infuriated. History is evident that whenever a recipient nation, especially if the US was the donor, tried to get out of the orbit of dependence, was made horrible example. International relations are nothing but pure power politics. Even the staunchest custodians of liberalism or the so-called liberal internationalism would resort to coercive tactics whenever they feel their cherished interests in jeopardy. There is nothing called international law when it doesn’t suit to the interests of international heavyweights. International structure has evolved to the form that power is the only reality to reckon with.

So, Pakistan, after striving to regain its full sovereignty and an independent foreign policy, has now clearly become a victim of the world’s neo-imperialist forces. The neoconservative confrontationists of America and Europe have started playing their hidden cards one by one against Pakistan. Today, not all forces and alliances are visible. As in the structural theory of imperialism, Johan Galtung posits that “sophisticated type of dominance relation which cuts across nations basing itself on a bridgehead which the centre of the centre nation establishes in the centre of the periphery nation for the joint benefit of both.” That means, as the theory assumes, the interests of the elite class of a developing or a Third World country (periphery), mostly its politically and financially dominant minority, coincide with the their counterparts in the developed world (centre). The two groups get themselves tied in such a knot that they would love to collaborate with each other to keep their interests served unhindered. This way, they could collectively maintain their political and economic dominance over the periphery nation. The elite group of the periphery country is more loyal to the elite class of the centre because its interests are better served with it.

Westerns, especially the Americans, as the history attests, must be in alliance with the current political players of Pakistan that are out to de-throne Imran Khan. The nexus between the said two classes, international and domestic, for the attainment of substantial influence and dominance has long been visible. International kingpins cannot endure a person who dares say ‘no’ to their dictates. They want their interests be served unchecked and unquestioned. The political parties of Pakistan, otherwise rivals, have joined hands for ouster of a non-complying prime minister. So, the uncompromisingly determined Khan is, in no way, affordable for these global as well as local powerhouses. Today, one can clearly witness the Kautilyan deceptive and immoral politics at its highest peak.

There are some interesting commonalities between both these international and local interest groups.
First, they call themselves democratic, peaceful, and moderate forces.
Second, they powerfully portray themselves as the well-wishers of others and their struggle is not for themselves but for the marginalized classes.
Third, both project themselves as law-abiding entities. However, the truth is contrary to all their claims. Both sides would never think for a moment to take law in their hands, be international or national, when they see their interests at risk. To them, only their interests are sacred. Law is always secondary. As the US is unable to digest China’s rise and Russia’s resurgence, the Pakistani political forces of status quo are still unable to accept Imran Khan as their ruler. They are leaving no stone unturned to regain their monopoly over politics and governance. Imran Khan long predicted this situation in one of his interviews that they all will become one when they will see their interest under threat.

Similarly, the global hegemonic powers also use the international organizations as well as international law as a tool against the weaker nations to achieve their vested interests. From UNSC to ICJ, IMF, and World Bank and the regimes like NSG, NPT, and FATF; all the international bodies work, from time to time, as pawns to protect the interests and monopoly of the dominant Western powers. There can be enlisted countless incidents of the duplicity, treachery, selectivity and exploitations towards the weaker nations at the hands of these world regimes. It won’t be surprising to claim that by duly employing these outfits, the US gets control over the national security and foreign policies of weaker nations. Pakistan has long been a victim of these pressure groups. Most of the early Pakistani rulers were easily manageable for these powers because of the convergence of their interests. Now, the situation has aggravated due to Imran Khan’s resistance to their uncurbed hegemonic designs; thus, he has become a thorn in the eyes of these global political thespians.

In a nutshell, the so-called liberalism, institutionalism and law are just the guises of the neo-imperialist powers to hide behind. Justice, peace, harmony etc. are relevant to these political elites only when their interests are duly served by clamouring these symbolic slogans. In reality, the attainment of unending interests and accumulation of unchallengeable power are the only objectives of these international and local political predators.

The writer is a noted educationist and a visiting faculty in Department of International Relations, University of Okara. Email:

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