All hail democracy! All hail democracy! That’s all we heard around the end of the Musharraf era.

Thinkers, bloggers, scientists, politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, people on the streets, janitors, tea boys, they all wanted it. We had had enough of dictators and finally the people had an opportunity to decide their own fate.

Well like they say, ‘be careful what you wish for, you just might get it!’

That above statement sums up our last five years in democracy. We wished for democracy and got what we wanted. BUT! We had no idea what we had wished for.

As a reward for choosing democracy the Pakistani people got the amazing gifts of corruption, inflation, frauds, scams, more gang wars, more target killings, more extremism, more bomb blasts, no electricity, no CNG, no jobs, more debt, sectarian killings, more kidnappings…the list goes on.

‘So, was the Musharraf era better?’ you ask with a smirk.

The Mushi Era

Hmmm…that’s really a tough one. You see, during the Mushi era we did have visible growth, both macro and micro. There was investment coming into Pakistan, infrastructure and cities were being developed, jobs were abundant. Yes there was extremism, but not at the same scale as there is now. And Karachi, the economic hub, was so much more peaceful.

People argue that Mushi’s policies were not sustainable and were a bubble which burst as soon as he left. I completely disagree. I say any policy will come crashing down if you don’t take measures to sustain it. The new government’s measures were never meant to sustain growth as they were deliberately corrupt and inept.

So comparing five years of democracy with the previous five years does seem to indicate that a dictatorship like that is definitely better.

But wait! Is it really better to let one person take decisions on behalf of an entire nation? What if he is corrupt? What if he makes the wrong decisions (Mushi’s NRO)? And the most worrisome question is: what happens after that person is no more?

So it seems like it’s a tradeoff between one person doing wrong or the whole parliament collectively screwing us over. Some may argue that the parliament is chosen by the people and therefore the people should live by the choices the parliament makes, however in a country where votes are bought (rather forced) and where there is more illiteracy than literacy, this argument is baseless.

Is there any truly viable solution?

So what do we do? Well in my opinion, the answer lies in Pakistan itself…or rather in the ISLAMIC republic of Pakistan.

I’m sure everyone has heard of khilafat, right? Yes, the governing system of Muslims! The system that prevailed when Hazrat Umar (RAA) was ruler of more than half the known world; a much larger area of land than any Muslim country today. The system under which any citizen could stand up and question the khalifa how he could afford the dress he was wearing.

A system where, unlike democracy, people’s votes are not just counted but evaluated based on the character of the person behind it. A system that has one leader but where the leader is truly answerable for his actions (not immune as in our present day democracy) because the rules of the system are set according to Islam, not according to a manmade constitution.

Most importantly, a system with a proven track record!

There could – or rather are – many questions regarding the who, what, how, when and where of Khilafat, but this is the only way forward and we as a nation need to begin thinking of how to answer these questions. What is clear is that we need an Islamic system implemented in our ISLAMIC republic of Pakistan.