Being a former colony, we are all familiar with the meaning of colonisation and all that it entails. But unlike the physical and more apparent occupation of the past, today’s influences are less obvious yet equally crippling and disturbing.

Shortly after the Second World War, the West realised that it could not control its colonies, especially in the face of open revolt and glaring disobedience. With this realisation came their slow withdrawal, but they left many problems to hinder the progress of the newly-formed nations. The crisis in the Middle East and Kashmir are just two of countless examples.

Decolonisation was followed by the cold war era where the two superpowers divided the world into two blocks using it as a giant chessboard, and moving countries against one another like chess pieces at their whims to advance their respective political ideals. Our country, Pakistan is a perfect example because it was used by the US, the so-called champion of democracy and capitalism against the USSR (communist Russia), while countries like Cuba and Iraq amongst others were used by the Soviets against the Americans. This stratagem of political colonisation led to many puppet regimes, disposing of countless leaders and conspiracies against uncountable others, all for the advancement of their own political and personal interests. Even the famous Marshall Plan, which was aimed at providing aid to the war-affected nations of the Second World War and to rebuild them in the Far East and Europe, was just another way of gaining inroads into the strategically placed regions where more and more control could be exercised over them.

The resultant fall of the USSR did not help. A unipolar world where the US was free to do as it pleased was far worse. A superpower with no check and balance could easily use strong arm tactics against any weaker nation, especially because of the UN’s subservience to the whims of the West.

The recent examples of the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and their puppet leaders proves yet again that the West will go to all lengths to support its personal interests by intervening and interfering wherever possible. Be it the desire to control the Middle East’s oil or their superiority over the international trade routes, they feel themselves justified to go to any length to maintain their control. The recent Nato attack on the Pakistani posts is the latest example of the whimsical approach of the West. In other places, like Libya, their influence can be seen by the sudden discontentment among the Libyan people against someone who they were earlier quite content with.

The US is not the only country doing this. The European countries also feel justified in oppressing the weaker states. For instance, it is common knowledge that France interferes in the underdeveloped African countries like Congo for the vast amounts of mineral wealth that it holds. While this example is there, it is not isolated and in Africa there are countless other countries where the West intervenes for its own vested interests - Liberia and Sudan should ring a bell at this juncture.

In my opinion, the conditions around the world should be an eye-opener for all of us. So that we may see beyond the elaborate smokescreen and realise that we have been used in the past; we are being used now; and we will be used and taken advantage of in the future as well, unless we see the truth for what it is - before it is too late!

    The writer is a freelance columnist based in Lahore.