Recent visits by our rich brothers from brotherly Gulf States, and the unsettling opacity surrounding them, has raised several questions. Some argue that we still quite haven’t recovered from previous doses of brotherly love, and perhaps more of it is not entirely in our best interest. The government would have everyone believe that the spirit of brotherhood is the ultimate driving force behind the delivery and promises of petro-dollars. They will give us a ton of money, and in return, all they expect is a big smile and a thank you. No personnel support by way of Pakistan’s armed forces for Bahrain, no advanced weaponry for the Saudis to be used in Syria’s violent sectarian conflict, but just some good, old gratitude in exchange for billions of dollars.

If one were to compile a list of words used by decision-makers in Pakistan for the sole purpose of public consumption, “sovereignty” would surely make the cut. It has become a reflex of politicians to throw the S word in response to any questions related to national security or foreign policy. While answering questions regarding his generous former hosts, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reminded everyone that they were standing on sovereign ground, breathing sovereign air and in conversation with a sovereign man. He warned, “We have to defend our political, economic and cultural sovereignty”. The PM means well, of course, but unfortunately, what he doesn’t know is that it is impossible to defend something which does not exist. As the general rule goes: first gain, then retain.

The fact is that the country’s cultural sovereignty is what the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) defines it to be in its next meeting. Our culture may find child marriage abhorring today, but tomorrow, with the blessing of the CII, it might be embraced with exemplary openness. There is also the minor identity crisis faced by the masses that cannot decide whether they’re closer to the Indus Valley Civilization or the vast, distant deserts of the Middle East. Our political and economic sovereignty is as decreed by the whims of the country’s military, and our American “strategic partners” who keep the cash flowing while droning away “sovereign” northern Pakistan. The PM can talk about sovereignty all he wants, but when he does, he shouldn’t expect it to be taken seriously.