Is Nawaz perfect? Is the government? Is democracy? No. So, should they be replaced? But, with what? Dictatorship? We have conducted that experiment more than once, and it failed each time. A democratically elected government ought to enjoy both legal and moral legitimacy. While the former is satisfied if the government comes to power through the ballot, the latter has to do with what it actually does with that power. Wrong decisions or actions taken by an elected government do not invalidate the votes they received in the previous election, or challenge its legal legitimacy, but they influence, as they should, its moral legitimacy. We realise that there are flaws in the system. That there is a need for structural reform, and that the common people should enjoy more space in the political arena. We are also aware of the shortcomings of our elite political class.

Tahir-ul-Qadri promises he can do it. Should we then overthrow the current government and give him the power instead? Should we suspend the constitution, shut down the courts, disband state authorities so Qadri can ‘fix’ it all? All because Qadri claims he can make it happen? He asks whether it is reasonable to expect those to introduce reform who benefit from the glitches in the system? Fair point, but is it reasonable to expect it from him? The people can hold Nawaz accountable by not voting for him in the next election. How would we hold Qadri accountable? When there is so much that needs fixing, we all hope that someone would show up and do what’s needed to be done; a messiah who would deliver us from the clutches of tyranny and injustice. But that is not how it works in the real world. That abrupt change will be for the better is a huge assumption, and a dangerous one. So what do we do? We reject Qadri and embrace Nawaz? No. We reject dream-sellers and embrace a politically accountable system know as democracy. Of course, one cannot with absolute certainty claim that regular elections will dramatically improve things in Pakistan. Nor can we, with absolutely certainty, claim the opposite. What we can do is learn from the world. And the world has taught us this: democracy is the best we have been able to come up with. No other system has shown better results. When allowed to function without interruption, it has improved itself as well as others. The process can be slow, but it works. Nothing else does. Nawaz isn’t democracy, and democracy isn’t Nawaz. He will leave one day as all men do, and we will decide who replaces him. Our focus should be on pressurizing Nawaz and other politicians to adapt a more democratic approach. If we view it as a gamble, are we better off putting our money on an established system which provides ample opportunities for improvement or a mere mortal who promises heaven?