Last week government leaders, central bankers, big business bosses and the civil society they fund, started their yearly ritual at Davos. The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) is supposed to grapple with the major global issues of the day and to look for their solutions - at least, that is what the forum would like the world to believe. However, except for the super-rich and powerful movers and shakers of the globe, who are invited to the elitist event, it is a claim that is hardly credible. It is difficult to imagine that those responsible for creating, perpetuating and benefiting from the problems of our world, could come up with the solutions even if they wanted to. Realistically speaking, the WEF is more of a networking club of the privileged, who party in the high-end alpine resort, while devising ways to manage the problems of the world without moving or shaking it too much. So what was Imran Khan doing amidst the very players that his tsunami is supposed to wash away? Perhaps, he thinks that he could bring about a change without questioning the global network that has held the world hostage to its greed.
The global network of money-worshippers has been best defined by John Perkins, the author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. For the alliance of governments of the developed countries, big corporations, major banks and international financial institutions, he's aptly coined the word ‘Corporatocracy’. Backed by the military might of the US, the alliance works like a modern-day empire seeking total control of the world and its resources for maximising profit for the key players. Once an insider, he exposes the clandestine ways in which less developed or poor countries are trapped and forced into working for the interests of the corporatocracy to the detriment of its under-privileged citizens. Usually, the job is done by corrupting the rulers in poor countries and favouring them with large loans. He narrates examples of rulers who refused to be corrupted and were taken out through assassinations, coup d’etats or fuelling unrest in the targeted countries. Military might is used when all options fail. His is no conspiracy theory; we can see it unfolding around us every day.
It was reported last week that the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline, or TAPI, that is being pushed down our throat by the US as a substitute for the Iran-Pakistan pipeline, has hit a snag. According to the news report, the government in Turkmenistan would like to pump out the gas itself, while the Asian Development Bank that is supporting the initiative would like the contract to go to Chevron. Obviously, the corporatocracy is not satisfied with just telling us where to get our gas from; it wants to decide about who to get it from as well. The pieces of the Iraq jigsaw puzzle came together a while ago. The weapons of mass destruction were never found, but the war brought huge dividends for American oil and construction giants, not to mention the military-industrial complex and private security firms. Millions of Iraqi paid the price with their lives and their country was bombed to rubble. In Libya, the champions of democracy and human rights, funded and armed militants that they are supposed to be hunting all over the world.
When the US Congress allocates over $400 million for freedom in Iran, what does that mean? Hasn't the National Endowment for Democracy wreaked havoc in Latin American countries in the name of democracy? Why is the entire continent of Africa gripped by poverty, famine, civil strife and tribal wars, while corporations milk it of billions of dollars? Why do poor countries invest billions of dollars in weapons, while more and more of their citizens slide below the poverty line? Why do leaders of the civilised, developed countries, the self-proclaimed champions of human values, find it convenient to wage wars against some despotic regimes that do not dance to their tunes, while patting other equally despotic regimes on the back for bogeying with them? Who do they serve? An increasing number of citizens of the developed world believe that their governments serve not them, but big business and big banks. They are convinced that the world could never become a better place under the guidance of this global network of predatory capitalism.
At Davos, of course, they did not find time to address these very important global issues of the day. They did not talk about the trillions of dollars spent on wars designed to control world resources. They did not talk about the fragility of a crisis-ridden financial system and how to avoid bailouts for banks amounting to hundreds of billions of taxpayers' dollars. In fact, they were preoccupied with keeping the Euro afloat and similar bailouts, managing the European debt crisis, instead of getting to the root of the problem for solving it. The window-dressing of dealing with income disparities, poverty, disease and other socially-responsible themes was there. After all, the movers and shakers of the world, who are only interested in not moving or shaking the world, must find ways to defuse the time bomb ticking in the world that they have reduced to one large colony. Surely, interesting projects that look great on paper will come out of these discussions for the international brigade of NGOs, modern-day missionaries for the modern-day burden of the new empire.
So, it was a bit odd to see PTI Chief Imran Khan, who has fired the imagination of Pakistanis with his message of hope and change, rubbing shoulders with the royalty of status quo. Does he expect to deliver on his promises made to hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic followers, who throng his jalsas, within the framework by this powerful predatory elite? Does he not know that to implement his plan for benefiting Pakistani citizens from the rich resources of our land, he will have to defend those resources from vultures perched in conference halls of Davos? Or does he think that he wields a magic wand that will turn Shylocks into Mother Teresa’s, emptying their stone-hearts of greed and filling them with compassion? Does he expect the global network of the super-privileged to turn a new leaf and sacrifice their multi-billion dollar profits for a just and peaceful world? Clearly, if he is serious about changing things for the better, he will have to look elsewhere.
The writer is an independent columnist.