The albatross of debt trap and US intervention

The emergence of China and Russia proved to be a game-changer

Durdana Najam April 23, 2022
The writer is a public policy analyst based in Lahore. She tweets @durdananajam

Imran Khan has won back the hearts of his constituents. A few days ago, a young couple I met talked about Imran Khan’s rallies. When asked why they would support Imran when his performance as a prime minister had not been satisfactory and that Imran had openly admitted to not having a team prepared to meet governance challenges. The couple agreed to all that and said they and other supporters of Imran in their family and friends’ circle had decided not to vote for Imran in the next election. But the couple continued that the way Imran was removed from power; the way his ouster was managed through judicial intervention; and the way looters were brought back to power had convinced them that a conspiracy had indeed been hatched against him at the behest of the mighty US.

In other words, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has given a new lease of life to Imran’s dying popularity by moving against him with a vote of no confidence. However, the worst part of the story is that despite the repeated assertions from the powers-that-be that Imran was removed through a democratic process and that they had nothing to do with it, a large swathe of people are not ready to buy this argument. Instead, they believe that two powerful state institutions used the PDM to remove Imran Khan on the orders of the US.

The US is hated and disliked by both its allies and enemies for playing a self-created role as the world police and legitimising the right to change regimes or intervene in a foreign country to restore democracy or protect human rights. No country can rear its head as a powerhouse, especially on the back of technological advancement, a military stronghold, and most importantly, an economic giant. For decades, the US had held the reign of distribution of petroleum products and controlled countries potentially rich in oil and gas through CIA. Israel in the Middle East has been the largest US benefactor as well as a bulwark against Arab monarchies and authoritarian governments that had to be kept under the watch lest they challenge the US or Israel’s power in the region.

However, with the turn of the century, with the coming of September 11, and with the intervention in three wars for regime change — in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria — the world shifted the paradigm of power in favour of multiple city-states.

The emergence of China and Russia proved to be a game-changer. This new block provided relief to the world strapped with no other choice but to find a place of shadow under the all-powerful US umbrella. The Syrian war was the first blow to the US intervention theory when Russia and China joined hands against the former as well as its Arab allies to resist the ouster of President Bashar-al-Asad.

The gradual inroad of China into the energy sector and Russia’s near invasion of Europe through pipeline diplomacy loosened the reliance of the world on the US. Moreover, CPEC, the pivotal BRI component, is taking wings in Pakistan; and Gwadar is all set to become the alternative to the Suez Canal and other global navigational grid. On the other hand, India, Russia and Iran have also joined hands to build a 7,200 km International North-South Transport Corridor. These projects shall move the world away from the US-controlled Sea Lines of Communications.

According to a Wall Street Journal story, the de-facto King of Saudi Arabia and the Emirati leaders refused to take Joe Biden’s call made to stall the formers’ relations with Russia. India had also dismissed the demand calling it an intervention in their national interest.

Pakistan is heavily dependent on the US-managed multilateral lending agencies to survive. This albatross of debt trap cannot sustain the US pressure and might have possibly given in.

The truth of this cipher telegram can only be known if an impartial inquiry is held on it — one on which all the stakeholders have consensus. Otherwise, had not we seen regime changes through a plane crash, the hanging of a prime minister, and the ouster of an elected government prior to 9/11?

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2022.

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