Those lamenting the Pakistani democratic decline must understand the world phenomenon of the dying liberal democracies. The Brexit was followed by a wave of journalism focusing on the populist values on increase in Europe. Later, French, Austrian, Polish, and Hungarian followed the suit of not leaving the EU but voicing out populism. The rise of populism was comprehended as something that damaged the EU as a uniting force. These changes were nothing but a result of complicated matrix of changing ideology of liberalism. It is safe to say that Liberal world order is under a great threat. Let’s see how. Quoting from a recent article at Foreign Affairs Magazine: “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 span of a quarter century, liberal democracies have gone from a position of unprecedented economic strength to position of unprecedented economic weakness”. “United States of America” once known for its freedom of expression and other core liberal values seems to have joined the autocratic model of governance. That is what Trumpism is about. The Northern Western democracies need to act liberal like never before. Illiberal policies are followed because the bearers of “liberalism” have acted illiberal in the past. We all know the infamous Iraqi invasion, don’t we? Adding fuel to the fire, the financial crisis of 2008 gave a huge blow to the concept of freedom in economic decision making. The states had to intervene more than ever before in order to sustain and regain their lost economic strength. During the last few decades the Western economy has faced stagnation in income. The rise of autocratic states as world’s top economies has challenged the liberal notion of having and promoting democracy. These states have also challenged the ideals of democratic governance connected to economic growth. A less criticised state compared to China is Singapore. Singapore is not only part of ASEAN [a key player in ASEAN politics] but also a great destination of tourism and jobs for the Western White population. In short, an autocracy like Singapore (that does not challenge the global dominance of the US and its allies) is accepted by the West compared to the rise of China that on the contrary is viewed as a threat. The challenges to the global liberalism are also echoed in the developing world. The rise of India and China has made it hard to refer the old connotation of “poor south”. The third or developing world has now learnt that economic prosperity does not really need a very open media and political opposition. Adding to the injury, their political parties who promote democracy on face value are highly undemocratic in their structure. Let us take example of the Islamic Republic in which we live in. Do you think the “leaders” of these parties have a democratic character? Do they really encourage the governance models adopted by the West from where they have imported the very democratic ideals from? Do they have bottom-up approach incorporated in their party manifestos and in the meetings of the party? I know you would be stating an obvious “no”. The fact is, our leaders or other leaders from the transitioning democracies are not really liberal in their ideology. How would they be able to practice liberal democracy then? This is the problem which we overlook. Being democratic and liberal [which means inclusivity of non state actors] will challenge their status quo. It simply is not in their best interest. The privileged few. The “liberal” ideology itself is extremely confusing to understand. It has many types and many forms. A sound political scientist or any other social scientist would understand the differences but we know the education level and qualifications of our leaders; don’t we? The masses we won’t even talk about given their indoctrinated mindset and illiteracy. Our people associate Liberalism only to America and think that only wearing western clothes means that, or adopting the western culture. Liberalism is an idea of having freedom from authoritarianism, freedom from others telling you what to do or what not to do. It gives voice to the unheard and weak. Of course if we only see America as a liberal model we shall be disappointed as it has skewed away from its own constitutional values. In sub-continent, when Sir Syed was heading the movement of reform, though it had religious colours in it, it was in fact a liberal democratic movement. Liberalism must be understood as something that lets you express, may it be your political right or right to criticism. Pakistan’s back gear to liberalism is not really surprising. Sharif, Imran et al. indeed are rightist [more religious oriented]. In Sharif’s political career he has always supported the religious political parties and Imran would rather do the same. Of course, thanks to Mr Zia, not only the Sharif family was his pick but also the unprecedented freedom to religious wings was given. Let us be clear: any one challenging the right wing status quo will not be able to survive in Pakistani political landscape. They are too powerful now. The right wing rise is not new but it is now changing its shape and modus operandi. Islamic parties joining liberal order of democracy is infusing Islamic democratic system or Islamic liberalism. It may sound shocking but liberalism is misunderstood as something that contains religious rule. That is what secularism does. Liberalism gives freedom to practice religious values even more than any monarchy or autocracy would do. Pakistanis must first understand liberalism before hating it. Before cursing it like other Western states are doing like Hungary, Poland etc, seeing it as danger to Islamic civilisation is not the right way to go by if Pakistan really wants to change its image abroad.