No, Mr Khan. Dictatorship is never better than democracy

Published: September 15, 2014

Stability attained through military force is temporary at best.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chief, Imran Khan, has recently claimed that former President Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorship was better than Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s democracy, allowing the world to roll its eyes to what has become our national shame – the dictatorship apologia of self-hating democratic politicians.

In what has become a weekly tradition of delivering bafflingly misinformed statements, the lines between dictatorship and democracy were blurred by the D-Chowk rage-generators, in an attempt to continually vilify Nawaz’s government.

The comparison of dictatorships and democracies is as ludicrous as suggesting that a bad bargain is worse than someone stealing your wallet. Any notion that an ‘alleged’ theft of something is better than an actual act of thievery can be flatly dismissed as being ridiculous.

Imran has made it a habit of undermining the government’s democratic rule by repeatedly referring to Nawaz as “badshah” (king). What he’s ignoring is that even if rigging did occur (not proven to be a systemic malady as yet), a lot of people did vote for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). It still enjoys a massive fan base that the tightly knit urban middle class PTI youth are constantly underestimating.

This is the reason PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) are facing immense resistance in their goals to get the government to resign. While there are many who rebel against the prime minister, he still enjoys the assurance of millions who he knows will not rise against him if he continues to rule.

It is not merely the police that keep this “badshah” safe in his fortress; he is guarded by the legal consent of a gigantic chunk of the Pakistani population. Imran believes he’s leading a revolution against a ruler, when in actuality, he’s revolting against the will of another half of the nation, composed of the PML-N base as well the now allied followers of the other opposition parties. Yes, this is what democracy looks like.

Dictatorship, imperialism and colonialism, on the other hand, offer nothing more than an illusion of stable governance. Stability attained through military force is temporary at best. Even with the strongest walls, the pressure cooker eventually bursts, as did the Indian sub-continent, the USSR, Korea, Iran, Libya, Syria, and so on.

The idea that dictatorship is more acceptable if the dictator knows how to rule is daft. It is as daft as me making peace with a random stranger hijacking my car on my way to the market, hoping he’s a better driver than I am. His skills are irrelevant; he’s not authorised to take the wheel.

Dictatorship apologia is our national Stockholm Syndrome; an unfortunate state of mind this country has developed over decades and decades of democratic deprivation. Mr Khan continues to disappoint us by perpetuating that mind-set.

Democracy may be imperfect, but it is a self-correcting process as democrats are slaves to the public’s satisfaction, on which their appointments are based. Dictatorship is outright theft at a national level, and beckons no glorification.

Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (

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