Liberalism is on its death bed. Those lamenting the decline in Pakistan’s democracy must understand the phenomenon of faltering liberal democracies worldwide. For instance, the rising tide of populism seen in Europe in context of Brexit and in the rise of populist parties in Austria, Poland and Hungary is a result of the changing ideology of liberalism. It is safe to say that the liberal world order is under a perilous threat. A recent Foreign Affairs article reads, “The world is now approaching a striking milestone: within the next five years, the share of global income held by countries considered “not free” such as China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia will surpass the share held by Western Liberal democracies. In the span of aquarter of a century, liberal democracies have gone from a position of unprecedented economic strength to a position of never before seen economic weakness”. The United States of America, once known for its freedom of expression and other core liberal values, moreover, seems to have started adhering to an autocratic model of governance. That is what Trumpism is all about. North-Western democracies thus need to act more liberal than they have ever done before. These countries are following illiberal policies because the bearers of liberalism have acted illiberal in the past. We are all familiar with the infamous Iraqi invasion, are we not? The financial crisis of 2008 was also a huge blow to the concept of freedom in economic decision making. Challenges to global liberalism are also emerging in the developing world. The rise of India and China has made it hard to refer to the old connotation of the ‘poor south’. The third or the ‘developing’ world has now learnt that economic prosperity does not really need an open media or political opposition Challenges to global liberalism are also emerging in the developing world. The rise of India and China has made it hard to refer to the old connotation of the ‘poor south’. The third or the ‘developing’ world has now learnt that economic prosperity does not really need an open media or political opposition. Political parties in developing countries that claim to be democratic on face value are also highly undemocratic in structure. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan serves to highlight this point. Parties in the country lack governance models practised in the West, and do not have a bottom up approach in their party manifestos and meetings. Our leaders or those who rule in transitioning democracies are not really liberal in their ideology. How is it possible then that they would practice liberal democracy? This is the dilemma we tend to overlook, for it is not in their interests to practice liberalism. The ‘liberal’ ideology itself is extremely difficult to understand. It has many types and many forms. Our people associate Liberalism with America and believe it involves wearing western clothes or adopting other elements of western culture. In fact, Liberalism is an idea that promotes freedom from authoritarianism, and freedom from others telling you what to do and what not to do. It gives voice to the unheard and to the weak. Of course if we view America as a liberal model, we will be disappointed since it has turned away from its own constitutional values. In the Subcontinent, Sir Syed’s movement for reform, despite having religious undertones, was a democratic liberal movement. Liberalism must be understood as some thing that allows us to express ourselves, be it our political views or our right to criticise. Pakistan’s back gear to liberalism is not really surprising. Sharif, Imran and other politicians are all rightist. In Sharif’s political career, moreover, he has always supported religious political parties and Imran will do the same. Let us be clear, any one challenging the right wing status quo will not be able to survive in Pakistan’s political landscape. It is too powerful now. Religious parties are also infusing a liberal notion of democracy with the Islamic democratic system. Contrary to popular belief, Liberalism does not contain religious rule. That is what secularism in fact does. Liberalism gives freedom to practice religious value seven more than what is available under a monarchy or an autocracy. Pakistanis must first understand liberalism before they start excoriating it and before they start cursing it like many people in Western states such as Hungary and Poland are doing. Viewing Liberalism as a danger to Islamic civilisation is also not the right way to go if Pakistan really wants to change its global image. The writer has a Masters in Human Rights Law from the Netherlands and has served as a lecturer at FC college [department of political science]. Published in Daily Times, June 2nd 2018.