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Only 42 Percent of Pakistanis Want Democracy

A Pew poll out this week shows how people in Pakistan and several Middle Eastern countries feel about democracy. In most places democracy polls pretty well — and then there is the Land of the Pure. Only 42 percent of those polled in Pakistan think democracy is a good idea, almost twenty percentage points below the other countries.

A previous Pew poll found that 77 percent of Pakistanis have favorable views of the military.

This is partly about the unpopularity of the present democratic government. The economy is a mess, terrorists run rampant, and progress at recovering from devastating floods has been agonizingly slow and the usual blatant and appalling corruption takes its toll at every step.

It’s an old cycle in Pakistan. The civilian politicians come in, fail at everything, infuriate the population by stealing everything that isn’t nailed down (and some things that are), until the military sweeps back into power. After a few years of military rule, the country gets nostalgic for the politicians. Elections are held and the cycle repeats.

And there’s something else westerners forget. When you are hungry, food counts. 58 percent of Pakistanis say a strong economy is more important than an open democracy.

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  • Art Deco

    Perhaps the Pakistani military should attempt an Uruguayan solution. Nominate a board of civilians with some general mandates, audit their performance, and otherwise keep a low profile.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    Backward cultures often have learning disabilities, and the backward Islamic cultures in particular have problems learning lessons from their historical enemies the superior western cultures.

    “There’s no arguing with success”

    When comparing cultures to determine the superior culture, ask the question “Which is the most successful?”

  • An

    @Art Deco. You need to be in the State Department. A little more creative foresight would help our cause.

  • Corlyss

    “Only 42 Percent of Pakistanis Want Democracy”

    That’s because they equate it with chaos. Even the benighted Arabs like the individual features of democracy when they are asked for their opinion of: government by the people, protection for minority rights, freedom of speech and press, freedom to worship as they wish, freedom from unreasonable search and arrest, speedy trials under the rule of law, protection of property rights, and others I’ve probably forgotten.

  • Corlyss

    @ An

    Couldn’t agree less. State’s mandate is the protect the status quo. If you want innovative thinking and serious concern with American interests across a broad field of endeavor, you want DoD.

  • Kris

    “Only 42 Percent of Pakistanis Want Democracy”

    Great! I’m in the market for slaves.

    [Yes, I know, horribly simplistic of me.)

  • Kris

    By the way, if I had stated “Pakistanis cannot be trusted to govern themselves properly”, I’d be called racist, Islamophobic, and perhaps even “neo-con” by people unclear on the concept.

    But it seems a majority of Pakistanis themselves believe that.

    Hmm, do I detect a paradox creeping up?

  • J R Yankovic

    Some great – and fun – comments so far. But getting back to text:

    “And there’s something else westerners forget. When you are hungry, food counts. 58 percent of Pakistanis say a strong economy is more important than an open democracy.”

    And given how the Paki economy has continued to strengthen with every further departure from broad-based democracy (after all, even at their freest have Paki elections ever been more than a choice among landowning factions?), I say go for broke.

    Just kidding.

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