Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Democracy in Pakistan

We Americans are preconditioned to believe that democracy is an unconditional good. Whatever the problem, less democracy is never an appropriate answer.The Pakistani columnist and media commentator Fasi Zaka appears (here) to disagree:
The fact is, if we had real democracy, there would be no internet in Pakistan, women would not be allowed out of their homes, education would come to a standstill and we would begin a programme of killing off every minority. Thank you corrupt generals and politicians, you keep this at bay with some sense of being answerable to a world that still has some humanity in it, even if you don’t.
We might hope that Zaka is wrong (or at least hyperbolic) about Pakistan, but the larger issue remains. Political theory, including theories of democracy, are still vexed by unresolved (and possibly insoluble) conundrums.

Hat tip:


  1. I think part of the problem is what people often term the positive attributes of democracy, e.g. civic ownership, pride, and freedom, cannot be tested empirically. As a former PhD student in political science, this was a constant frustration--our methods are crude at best. Other measures that slant against democracy (at least in the short-term), e.g. change in GDP, stability of electricity and water supply, and number of lives lost due to civil unrest, are readily available and testable.

    It's this issue that makes otherwise left-leaning Westerners (myself included) more open to Ron Paul-esque non-interventionists.

  2. Hi, am the author of the piece you quote. Yes the comment was for dramatic effect.

    Fasi Zaka


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