Can democracy ever work in Pakistan?

We’re off air now, but you can podcast the programme here   

Hello everyone I’m Komla Dumor. Join us for a global debate on the future of Pakistan at 1800GMT.

Can Democracy Ever Work in Pakistan? Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has been buried today following her assassination yesterday. Her murder is another bloody milestone in Pakistan’s tortured democratic experiment that has seen several politically motivated killings and military intervention.

Here’s a background to the country’s history: In the nations 60 year history several political figures and scores of civilians have met a violent end on the path to democracy. At present uncertainty surrounds the elections scheduled for January 8th 2008

You can read the latest developments here at the BBC website

Recent events coupled with the prospects for the future begs the question can Democracy Ever Work in Pakistan?We will also be debating related issues. Why is Pakistan a haven for extremists? Can a woman succeed politically in such an extreme environment? Has foreign interference contributed to the problems in Pakistan? We welcome your comments on the programme. Put a post up on our blog, send an email or call into the show. Join in the global debate on World Have Your Say at 1800GMT from the BBC World Service.Look forward to hearing from youKomla DumorPresenter, BBC World Service

LISTEN, PODCAST AND COMMENT ON THE BLOG: www.worldhaveyoursay.com COMMENT BY EMAIL: worldhaveyoursay@bbc.co.uk

64 Responses to “Can democracy ever work in Pakistan?”

  1. 1 Shubho
    December 28, 2007 at 13:08


    Democracy can surely work in Pakistan. I am sure of it, as being an Indian, and having a shared history of centuries. If India can have a superb and vibrant democracy, it can surely happen in Pakistan. But for that there should be a need for democracy from all the level and strata of society. Specially the army should be more restrained and interested in democracy. Also the army should also be put more in control. Surely there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

  2. December 28, 2007 at 13:12

    The word “ever” implies a long time. The question is what would have to occur before the majority of the people rise up against the minority and the logic of law prevails?

    I hesitate to use the word “democracy”. What the world wants from Pakistan is a civil, humane, free thinking, evolving, non-threatening, tolerant, and peaceful society. Many things are not conducive to this environment. Arranged marriages, honor killings, repressing of women, religious intolerance, sectarian governments, religion based education systems, private militias are just a few.

    The key to Pakistan, and for that fact any country that has the same undesirable, non-functional characteristics) is a national education system. If in the US we were all left to find our own form of education, we would too have erratic un-standardized views on issues. Many of us would find ourselves in extreme agenda driven radical education environments. “School” is where we all go to intermingle with different races, religions, and creeds. Beliefs are great to have and get from your family environment, but there needs to be one place where children can be taught “truths”.

    One last note. A democracy simply means the majority (or vocal minority) get their way. If the majority says, “we should kill the minority”, then the majority will have their will.

  3. 3 Shahid Azad
    December 28, 2007 at 13:32

    Democracy in Pakistan can work, but not under the present circumstances or system of government which is barely at a normal functioning level. First and foremost a swift transition must take place from a purely military led government to one where their presence is a lot less dominant. The next move by who ever comes to power and the rest of the the opposition should be to review and change the current system to one that is more adept to the type of democracy that the people of Pakistan want in the furture.
    The role of the military has to be gradually brought to the level of nil direct interference or rule. The judiciary and legislative body of the government to has to be allowed to function at a normal level. The military’s interference represents inefficeny of the system and therefore the most visable reason for drastic change to prevent any further choas from breaking out. What Imran Khan has voiced in recent days would be words to watch for closely and it is grass root leaders like him who will prove whether the country is going to fall apart or survive following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
    The United States must learn that their interference or Britain’s and other western countries has been largely responsible for the current problem that have been historical in signifance. They have created more hostility than favorable conditions to relations with Pakistan and also have created the stall in democracy flourishing properly.
    Under the west’s relations at the moment also comes the so called War on Terror. As long as they continue you to support stooges like the Karzai in government in Afghanistan which is so closely linked historically to Pakistan nothing will change on that front. All troops must be removed from Afghanistan and Afghanistan too will need a government that is not handpicked by the west. Only than can elements such as Taliban dismanteled and Al Qaeda eleminated.

    The assasination of Benazir Bhutto and inefficency of Pakistan’s democracy is largely to blamed on the West’s interference in the region and also a system that is largely marred by corruption and failed in any potential efficency.

  4. 4 John D. Anthony
    December 28, 2007 at 14:12

    Democracy is possible anywhere you have an open society but it requires a certain minimum standard of living to function properly. As long as there is a common desperation that can be exploited someone will always be there to exploit it for their own gain.
    I’d say Pakistan is headed in the right direction but it’s got a ways to go yet.

  5. 5 Syeda Sundas
    December 28, 2007 at 14:12

    Our country has suffered a great loss… we have lost a truly gifted leader…and truly Pakistan does not have many… Democracy shall survive in Pakistan provided that some one should come forward and actually voice the public opinion.

    It shall survive if the curse of armed forces is taken away from executive frame work of the country…It shall survive if we have a strong judicial structure…but hey when we were at the verge of forming an independent judicial setup…who came to trash it… We all know none other than our so called restorer of democracy Musharraf. We at home wonder why!? do the west support him… Abandoning the constitution at own will, making the necessary adjustments to prolong his rule, suspending judges of the highest court..is that what a savior of democracy does!?

    Our nation is willing to back any leader who will come forward with the honest intentention to help the people, to save the people… You talk about islamic extremists and militancy…A country where majority of the nation is living hand to mouth… where its hard for a salaried individual to meet his ends, where there are people business tycoons, and political giants who are above the law… yet the common man suffers the pangs of rising inflation and diminishing purchasing power what do you expect?! There are many who would be willing to blow them selves up for a few pieces of silver and if some one promises to provide for their families…whether islamist or not!

    We need a true savior…we need some one to unite this country… amid provincialism, amid terrorist forces trying to claim hold… The media always projects one face of Pakistan…it is not true that all women are being targeted in the country… I speak for my self and more of my kin. We have educated, vibrant women in this country too…

    What Pakistan needs is a true reformer a leader of the ranks of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, a leader with charisma, and devotion to take this country to the road to democracy, independence and integrity. Currently some one who has these qualities in him is none other than Imran Khan…We need him to come forward and take a lead in this situation!

  6. 6 Abida Hassan
    December 28, 2007 at 14:16

    Politics in Pakistan is even dirtier than politics in America, which does not want democracy here because it doesn’t suit its policies in the region. Democracy is one big joke for most of us. Forget about it. Most of us are too cynical after sixty years to expect any improvement, especially with America pulling the strings. Since the fifties the army has been calling the shots, whether through a facade of democracy, or directly by taking over the governement every few years. Anyhow, the old Greek philossophers thought that democracy was the worst form of government. Stop being idealistic about it. We have a host of problems in this part of the world. Many of them have been imposed on us. It is a continuation of Anglo-Saxon colonialsim first started in the eighteenth century, and you people are lucky that you can get (or buy) a ready-made mercenary army in the region to fight your wars for you.

  7. 7 Asif
    December 28, 2007 at 14:40

    Pakistan was made for democracy and surely it will work InshahAllah. Look at the problems we are facing, we were left alone after Afghan war with piles of uncontrolled American weopons, fully functional with complete structure of drug traficing from Afghanistan, uncontrolled Army with a high moral of rulling Pakistan’s moderate, loyal, democratic and innocent people.
    Al-Qaeda or any other terrorist group can only be defeated by working with the civilians not by helping dictatorship against the civilians. If the interference is positive it will never be blamed but if not then it is felt against civilians and helping dictator.
    What i can suggest now to western countries and America is Pakistanis are not terrorists please do not help dictators ruling us do not accept them. Civilians are better rulers and better friends in world challenges.

  8. 8 George
    December 28, 2007 at 16:04

    Every human wants life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
    Every family wants a roof over their head, food in abundance, and a good life for their children.

    Pakistan is not the USA or Europe so the social and cultural/religious framework is different but the desire for the fruits of democracy exist and can be achieved.

    The Great Game, foreign influences, of Britain, Russia and now the USA is a complication because of the geography and topography of Pakistan, and also Afghanistan, lays at the junction of land masses.

    Add resources of gas and pipelines and you have what amounts to negative factors to democracy because control or utilization of strategic land by definition does not want the instability of free elections least control be lost. This is not insurmountable even as China joins the club.

    “Freedom at Midnight” documents the birth of both India and Pakistan from Colonial rule. It has been a very hard road, but both countries are progressing dramatically, and will continue to do so.

    Civilian rule of the Military is the goal. It will come.

    There is no single savior but the people of a nation struggle together into any form of democracy. Great men and women shed blood along the way, but make no mistake, it is the people who grapple with and grasp democracy with their collective hands.

    Democracy function in Pakistan? It was just fertilized for growth yesterday by the blood of a wonderful woman along with many others.
    Yes, it can and is doing so as we speak if painful and with starts and stops.

  9. December 28, 2007 at 16:06

    Democracy can work in any muslim country if only western powers stop meddling in their internal affairs. Muslims and Pakistanis are no different from any other people on earth. All that they want is a dignified and prosperous life. Despite the critics and accusation on her time in power in Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto has proved to be a charismatic, couragous and passionate leader. This Muslim woman has inspired many in the muslim word and her death is a big loss. May she rest in peace!

  10. 10 John D. Anthony
    December 28, 2007 at 16:12


    If you wait for a leader to save your country you will wait forever. The person who will speak for you will only appear when your desire for justice cannot be drowned out by the sound of guns.

  11. 11 Adeela
    December 28, 2007 at 17:18

    Average Pakistani is not that knaive any more,the media has surely played its role despite the fact that it has faced and still facing many hurdles.The Praetorian rule over the decades have never given a chance to democracy,first Ayub Khan than Zia Ul Haq who has damaged the Pakistan most with the support of West to wage holy war against the USSR,he exploited the Islam and Pakistan for his own benifits to stay in power.And than Musharraf who has played havoc with the constitution and judiciary.No democratic government was ever given a chance to survive whether it was Nawaz Sharief or Benaziar Bhutto.We need fair chance,free and fair elections and we know it can work.But we need to get rid of the dictators and michavillie’s Prince.
    The second question about women,we are not so weak in last 6 decades despite living in male dominated society we have waged constant struggle for our rights,we know what previdges our religion gives us the women is free to express her view in politics,even the second Caliph accepted the woman’s advice when she was right.Even in the times of Prophet we women particiapted in the war Umeh Umara was so good with weapons that Prophet commended her that she is better than men.Benazair has been a great Loss but we still are determined and aware.It is only the Illitracy and the long traditions that have promoted such an image of women in Islam they were never subjugated by our religion.Our religion is the most liberal one where women were granted all rights.The staus of women in Islam and Pakistan has achieved mile stones the Recent Bill of women’s rights in December 2006 is an evidence.We need real leaders like Sana Ullah Balouch and Imran khan who have clear vision and knowledge.Benazir was now a seasoned polititian and we were expecting mature policies from her this time.The Economy and the growtrh rates in Pakistan are just eye wash where the income desparities have increased to an extent where the average Pakistan has been squeezed up and frustration has increased,as the wealthy are getting wealthier,every time Mr.Musharraf and Shoukat Aziz always reprt everything is fine,they must know that waging war against their own people where hundreds of innocent people are also targeted is not the way to combat terrorism,we need a better strayegy to address this issue,the Tribal people just know how to kill or die even the Bristish was clever to have some diplomacy with these people to bomb them calling them terrorists is no solution.Musharraf and US must know the Francis Fukuyama has already recorded his nuetral views of War on terror waged by US in Iraq do the world need same situation here in Pakistan,or is instead of Oil US need strategic postion to monitor Iran and China than its a different story altogether.
    If you want real democracy give it a chance hold free and fair elections,control army not to interfare in Politics and do its own job give up this power hunt,as now they are literally controlling all the civilian departments with Musharraf’s 13 men committee.It can only work if it is given a chance and UN can make sure that elections are fair with no rigging and those who come in power are given a cahnce without army in background.

  12. 12 C J Smith
    December 28, 2007 at 17:20

    I believe John Anthony is right, Syeda…
    It is the job of the people to stand up for democracy, not a particular leader. The people must lead.

  13. 13 AMIRALI
    December 28, 2007 at 17:33




  14. December 28, 2007 at 17:56


    If involved with a conversation with one of my fellow Americans I would say the same sentiment in which you spoke. However, Muslim countries should know what “no western meddling” means. No aid, not allies, no tariff agreements, no stopping of genocides, no personal involvement of any kind. If a Muslim nation has a product and we want to buy it, we will pay the price agreed upon. As far as the western nations are concerned there would be no political involvement. The only concern in Pakistan’s case would be that they are armed with nuclear weapons. If they become unstable it is in the US national security interest to secure or destroy those weapons. If the US should become unstable Pakistan would have the same right.

    I whole heartedly agree with you. However, you should know what “no meddling” would really mean. Something like 60 billion dollars is allocated for Aid to Muslim countries each year. That doesn’t include emergency aid for things like earthquakes or other natural disasters.

  15. 15 viola anderson
    December 28, 2007 at 17:58

    Is Pakistan a haven for extremists? Can extremists go there and be safe (which is what a haven should be for)? I don’t think so, though they can receive more help and sanctuary in that country than, say, Saudi Arabia, simply because there is so much unrest and anger. Whether some in Pakistan agree or not, the fact is that Musharaff and the military offer the only framework for enough stability that an election can take place at all. The question is whether Musharaff, himself, and the army believe there is any possibility of stability in a democratic Pakistan; also, whether anyone in power as they now are with its attendant personal advantages will ever willingly relinquish any of that power. No political party should be totally dependent on a single candidate’s ability to win elections. Large political parties which refuse to participate in elections are undermining the whole process. When WHYS asks if foreign interference contributed to the chaos in Pakistan, the obvious answer is “Yes, of course.” Is that a reason to blame all their troubles on foreign interference? No, of course not. It is an absurd notion that in today’s world a country’s internal activities can be totally shielded from influence from the rest of the world. Good leaders try to protect their country’s interests by enlisting outside help when needed and are vigilant and good negotiators in such dealings. To the best of my knowledge the Taleban and Al Qaeda seek to destabilize and then take over completely the counties they target. Finally, can a woman succeed in such an extreme environment? I’d guess she can just about as well a man can.

  16. 16 GBENGA
    December 28, 2007 at 18:11

    If it can work in Nigeria, why not in Pakistan?

  17. 17 Andrew Stamford
    December 28, 2007 at 18:27

    Can Democracy Ever Work in Pakistan?

    Judging by the events of yesterday the answer is self-evident.

    Andrew Stamford


  18. 18 John
    December 28, 2007 at 18:27

    Pakistan can and will be a democracy but only when it stops waiting for a leader to make it happen.

    John in Salem

  19. December 28, 2007 at 18:28


  20. 20 Hector Fraticelli, Jr.
    December 28, 2007 at 18:29

    I think that the elections in Pakistan should not be boycotted by either party. I believe that if elections go as planned, that should show everybody around the world that Pakistan is pro-democracy, and a country that welcomes progress. The elections would also show terrorist and extremist groups around the world that an assassination of this magnitude would not set back Pakistan as a democratic nation.

    Hector Fraticelli, Jr.
    Walnut, CA

  21. 21 Gary
    December 28, 2007 at 18:30

    Hello All,

    Pakistan does not now, nor will it ever, have democracy. No Islamic State will ever have democracy. The reasons are quite simple: God gives only two gifts; life and free will. Love and trust in the Wisdom of God; that each member of a society was given by God the right to the free exercise of these gifts, is the heart of every democracy. That famous quote incorrectly attributed to Voltaire (Francois-Marie Arouet): “I disapprove of what you say; but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” is just as surely its tolerant soul. Dear people; the majority must tolerate the minority, even when it “sins!” Theocracies cannot do this.

  22. 22 Chawezi
    December 28, 2007 at 18:31


    Chawezi Kasola Phiri

  23. December 28, 2007 at 18:36

    Pakistan has the flaw of being a society where there are different forces that can’t cohabit. There is the military that is unlikely to fully relinquish power to elected institutions. It will always continue to seek a crucial role in the country’s politics. There are also religious views that oppose democratic rule as it views it as western style that has nothing to do with Islam.

    As long as politicians are constantly under assassination threats, Pakistan will remain a country in political turmoil that emerges from time to time. The military will continue to have direct interferences in what is taking place. Pervez Musharraf, although now a civilian, has a military past behind him. He will continue to work closely with the military to stay in power. Events have shown that political parties have only the power to rally supporters to denounce measures by the president. Elected institutions are just a sham as they have little power to sway the country’s general politics.

  24. 24 Chernor Jalloh
    December 28, 2007 at 18:41

    Democracy is compatible with Islam.The terrorists have no political party in Pakistan,have they?They simply did it to achieve their lust and selfish ends.Those that think Islam doesnot mix with democracy donot know anything about Islam.

  25. 25 Kwazi Newman
    December 28, 2007 at 18:42

    the people that kill bhutto have done freedom and justice in pakistan a real favour. by killing her they actually thought they had won.killing bhutto is just the beginning of their losses.they have just killed a whole generation of freedom and justice to the people of pakistan.there will be a lot of people who will benefit from her death now but that will not last.oppression in pakistan is just about to start and president musharaf should come out clean and with a pure heart if he knows he has unsoiled hands.here in ghana we morn with the people of pakistan and we say they shouldn’t carry a heavy heart but rather rejoice in the fact that they once had a shero who died for the freedom of pakistan.

    Kwasi Newman accra-ghana.

  26. 26 ali
    December 28, 2007 at 18:43

    I urge the people of Pakistan to follow their religion, Islam.

    In Islam the murder of any Muslim is a great sin, as stated by God in the Qur’an Chapter 4, Verse 93:

    “And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell to abide therein, and the Wrath and the Curse of Allah are upon him, and a great punishment is prepared for him.”

  27. 27 Mary F. Byrkit
    December 28, 2007 at 18:43

    The “heck” with Democracy – “the people” can also be a tyranny. Fight instead for individual and minority rights. That is the most important, quite compatible with Islamic teaching, and will lead to a country that can face the world without shame.

    Mary F. Byrkit (bur’ket)
    Portland, Oregon (or’ e gun)

  28. 28 Shirley Wilson
    December 28, 2007 at 18:44

    I am having a very difficult time trusting your female guest, whose name I unfortunately did not catch. She said something about Bhutto’s assassination, corruption, and the ISI that did not sound right; and she has also claimed that Turkey has formed a successful relationship between civil law and Islam.

    I was watching NBC here in the States earlier this morning, and I saw an interview with a guest on the morning show who stated that the ISI was continually enaged in a power struggle with Bhutto while she was Prime Minister during both of ehr terms. She went on to state that the ISI was instrumental in raising charges of corruption against Bhutto. She also stated that it is very likely that the IS and al Qaeda came together to cooperate in her assassination. I trust the guest and what she said.

    As regards Turkey, their anti-democratic law against the hijab is untenable: Muslim women are required to wear hijab by virtue of the language of the Qur’an in 24:31, where the apparal referred to is the khimar – the same clothing that Prophet Muhammad stated is required of a woman when she prays.

    And as for the statement that Islam and democracy are incompatible, if this were the case, then Ayatullah Sistani would not support a democratic process in Iraq that includes the formation of a Constitution.
    -Shirley Wilson, Chicago, IL USA

  29. 29 Chad Lupkes
    December 28, 2007 at 18:44

    First I need to define terms. “Democracy” means the people having a vote in the decisions that affect their lives. Given that definition, I believe that democracy can work anywhere. If the current leadership of a country stands in the way, that government can be taken down. It happens all the time. It’s not pretty, but whenever a government puts their own power above the needs of the people, it eventually happens. John Kennedy said “those who make peaceful transition of power impossible make violent revolution inevitable.

    Pakistan can rise above this. The people must stand up. The women must stand up. The children must stand up. When that happens, things will change for the better.

    Chad Lupkes
    Seattle, Washington, USA

  30. 30 Charistos
    December 28, 2007 at 18:45

    i’m nigerian and i think she was a courageous woman. a great woman indeed.
    but why should demmocracy work in pakistan???!!! why don’t the pakistani people find a system that suits them?!
    why should they practice what the western world think is right?!
    if democracy will work in pakistan, it should have now by now.
    let the good people of pakistan sit down and find a system that takes into account their peculiarities, culture, temperament and other issues into account.
    it maybe ok for britain and america, it might not be ok in other cultures or countries.


  31. 31 Zach
    December 28, 2007 at 18:46

    On the note of one of your guests saying that there are outside people coming in only to rule, causing a problem with a functioning democracy, and i remember hearing the problem with “no political interests ties” or something similar, we must also remember that it’s
    6 of one and a half dozen of the other. If you look at the US, sec 1 article 2 of the Constitution, the President must be a natural born citizen, but then you face corruption with in your own county by your own countrymen. It goes to show inside/or outside country, the same problems happen, no-matter who rules –
    Zach from Youngstown, Ohio USA

  32. 32 Naveen
    December 28, 2007 at 18:46

    The Political system in Pakistan is totally broke. Look at PPP, it has no leadership after Ms. Bhutto. In the present situation there is no alternative to Mr. Musarraf.

    Pakistan needs a strong Military and Polittcal partnership to get rid of the militancy and establish democrary. It cannot be either or.. It has to be both.


    Cleveland, OH

  33. 33 Chad Lupkes
    December 28, 2007 at 18:47

    What’s the definition of Socialism according to the guy from Oklahoma. Socialism means the people have a voice in the decisions. Democracy means having a vote. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    Chad Lupkes
    Seattle, WA USA

  34. 34 Anonymous
    December 28, 2007 at 18:47

    I am muhidiin from somalia. How can democracy and islam live in the same place if the country is islam their must be islam rule.

  35. 35 Isaac
    December 28, 2007 at 18:48

    Islam and Democracy are incompatible because the Koran approves of holding slaves.


  36. 36 Shirley Wilson
    December 28, 2007 at 18:49

    I am listening to WHYS now, and it is very obvious that the male guests are overtalking the female gues, Syeda. This is a terrible habit of men from the Indo-Pak as well as Arab world, even if the offender is unaware of what he is doing. Syeda should be allowed more time to express her opinions and to complete her thoughts.

  37. 37 Malik Shehzad
    December 28, 2007 at 18:55

    sorry to say but Pakistan is a country for not 160 million but 16 million at its most. firstly more than a million army on or off duty, the rest politicians,there relatives and close friends or family. fact is economy of this country is 65% foriegn multi nationals 20% army and the rest for civilians.
    60% of budget is only for army which is hardly a little more than a million,at the same time they generate enough money on there own to support 70% of there expensis,but?.
    there systems are perfect for themselves, ruling more than democracy,they couldnt gave this country a good push. but there cantonment areas, cannt, or any army housing society, they have the best roads no shortage of water no electricity shortages,best security and all facilities you need to live peacefully

  38. 38 steve
    December 28, 2007 at 18:59

    Democracy in Pakistan will bring a theocracy, the nation would be ruled by Sharia law. That’ snot exactly what westerners believe to be democracy, but i f that’s the will of the people of Pakistan, so be it. However, they should be disarmed of nuclear weapons first. Being ruled under 8th century law means you shouldn’t have 21st century weapons.

  39. 39 Adeela
    December 28, 2007 at 19:59

    Listening to various views just wish our country has real democracy,those who are intolerant,do not wish to give power to people and where all minorities rights are not protected is against the spirit of democracy.We need democracy not shariat because in a country like Pakistan where power hungry fuedals,aristocrats and beaurucrats or leaders jsut care about them selves rather than people,the Shariat is always used to meet their own ends and exploit women and Islam.But it still doesnot mean that we don’t have any hope for democracy as more than 90% of our population comprise of moderates not extremists for sure.Only need aspirational leaders and socio-economic development rather than making on non developmentalexpenditures we need to invest in education and social sector and thats possible if we can have real leaders if army only backs off and democracy is given a chance

  40. 40 Chernor Jalloh
    December 28, 2007 at 20:13

    Pakistan is a country where chaos and anarchy prevails most times either by the military that is eager to cease power through the barrel of a gun or the Islamists who will want to have an Islamic state.And that can cripple the economy and block the path to democracy.All the political parties are to unite inorder to rev up the pace of reforms who ever might be elected in the coming elections sechduled for next year.But failing to do so it can led to another adverse impact on them and to those who support them in the near future.Before they could prepare for any eventualities it will be too late. It was during the war in Afghanistan to oust the then USSR,the US sponsored all the extremists arriving in Pakistan,who were released from Arab jails to join the fighting in Afghanistan.When the war ended some of them decided to remain and get married with Afghan women and started preaching extreme idears to the indigent Afghan people to wage holy wars and have anIslamic states.The US never became aware of the type of people that were receiving their US dollars,until a fatwah(Islamic law)was issued by Al Zawahiri to drive trucks loaded with bombs to the US embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania in 1998 and the twin towers. The tragic incident which has made Benazir Bhutto to conk out, there will be little optimism for the people of Pakistan to have such a courageous woman albeit her apearnce was shrouded by many as very corruptive woman when she was a prime minister. Ever since the so-called war on terror began and President Bush said whether you are with us and against us and for those who oppose the US foreign policy are called terrorists or having links with the enemy and if aid was being sent by the US that could be stopped immediately and then severely punished.And for those who are with the US foreign policy they will be a soft target by Islamists or terrorists.

  41. 41 Syed Hasan Turab
    December 28, 2007 at 22:23

    Democracy is not end of the world for any nation including Pakistan, look at the desaster Democracy created in our society.
    Democracy is mother of human sufferings as denial of minority rights are the life time achievents of Democracy, even having vote being a minority you can’t live with your own choices a desasturous Indian Democracy is the best example of human desaster for Muslims, Sikhs & Christines. I feel no harm to include US African Americans & Ireland too.
    The requirement of the time is Quality of life & peacefull atmosphier in which humanity survive safely. The outcome of our democracy is frustrations, uncertanities & wild human behaviour, as electronic media beem misused by our Democracies.

  42. 42 Will Rhodes
    December 29, 2007 at 02:57

    Pakistan must take its lead from Turkey’s Attaturk. It takes hard work and a lot of it!

  43. 43 Abida Hassan
    December 29, 2007 at 04:27

    Hey, Steve, you haven’t thought things through. The right to own nasty weapons is not linked with this or that form of government. How do you justify the development of obscene weapons at enormous expense by your own country while you deny this right to others? Any of the cliches you trot out for yourselves can apply to others. Remember, democracy, which you tout as the end-all and be-all of things, dates back to about the fifth century BC, so it is not the antiquity of the system that matters. Sure, the ‘Caliph’ concept is also dated, but then, what’s new? Sharia means ‘path’ or ‘way’and has evolved from the judgments of four schools of thought, all of which came about a century after the coming of Islam. These schools of thought are not always in agreement with one another. Actually, Islam is silent about systems of government, and rightly so–it leaves something to the needs of the hour to shape its ends. It inclines towards a kind of democratic socialism in principle, though the traditional practice of government in Islamic societies has been more like the absolute monarchies of yore. But, what’s so great about` democracy? Can ‘people’ really rule? Of course they can’t. What does this mean? The right to cast a vote for limited choices every few years? It rests on gigantic sums of money, voting banks, manipulation, constituencies and, yes, raw power. So let’s get back to the operant impulse behind all governments, regardless of labels–“might is right.” Through history, Anglo-Saxons tribes have functioned on this principle more consistently than others. Now, after pirating the world, they think they are sitting pretty and can give lofty lectures to others. As long as people need governments, this principle will operate.The rest is nonsense, wishful thinking.

  44. 44 George
    December 29, 2007 at 10:36


    So we trot in with the 101st Airborne and take their nukes from them?

    Let’s see, Sharia law countries all get invaded and disarmed?

    Might you be going overboard on this?

  45. 45 George
    December 29, 2007 at 11:27

    Is democracy automatically and inescapably theocracy and extremist theocracy at that?

    Or is the threat of it enough?

    The most westernized nonsectarian leader of Pakistan was just killed.

    Is it just possible, she might have lead that nation into a moderate democracy free of the worst case scenario of Muslim extremists with nukes?

  46. 46 Syeda Sundas
    December 29, 2007 at 12:01

    You guys are right in saying that the people not the leaders can bring out democracy…but you need to understand the dynamics of the problem we are facing in Pakistan. The students, the youth, the women are all enraged by the recent happenings.. but when ever some one tries to raise their voice, any student or woman they are reported missing after some time…never to be found again! what do you expect… will individuals rise up in a scenario like this…

    I talk about leadership because an organized protest and movement is more effective than a random riot. What is happening in our country at the momment: there are voilent protests…people are destroying public property…It is because of lack of direction, lack of leadership…Our people are shocked and angry about the state of affairs of our country. Yet most of them do not have the right education, and awareness to know how to actually solve the issue at hand. Under the given circumstances some one who can direct these emotions in the right direction, who can channel this anger to the cause of democracy in Pakistan is needed.

    And no we in Pakistan do not need a Shariah based system…because Pakistan is not a strongly islamic state as others might presume… the secular and religious elements are equally balanced in Pakistan. In addition, religon is used as the best excuse for the motives of the political elite. Some religious clerics who also own political parties, simply misinterpret the Koran and use it as justification for their personal motives. We do not accept such a system…

  47. December 29, 2007 at 12:03

    Democracy will succeed in Pakistan if it is allowed to. India and Pakistan were born together on August 14, 15, 1947. But democracy has stood the test of time in India. It’s a big success here. But in Pakistan, it was never allowed to gain root.

    Pakistan will first need to have visionary political leaders for that. Secondly, they will have to nurture the society towards democratic credentials and values, like tolerance and broadmindness. Third, they will have allow democratic voices to be made and heard. Fourth, leaders would need the graciousness to respect and accept democratic verdicts.

    Nothing to indicate now Pakistan can’t have a great democracy. It’s in a crisis. It will have to tide over that. Democracy will have to nurtured wtih effort. A strong, stable and progressive Pakistan is in the best interest of itself, neighbours like India and the region.; and the world at large.

  48. December 29, 2007 at 17:37

    I don’t think so most of the politicians are playing the games with the poor Pakistani people. I believed Bhutto was the leader who can bring the Democracy in the Pakistan.

    Eventually she lost her life cause of the democracy and the people of the Pakistan. He was true leader and visionary of the people of the Pakistan. She was on of most brilliant woman leader that I could ever seen in my life.

    The word democracy is now being challenge for those who are responsible for this tragedy. I don’t think so any one can bring democracy in this country.

    Still 3 days passed away of the Bhutto assassination but this government never bring anything to the normal people are killing day in the roads there is nothing available at the shops who ever can be go outside to buy food he can be shot by the police.

    Yes that is democracy and enlightened moderation that PM Mushraff bring he is man with devil ideology. I don’t know which kind of the democracy they are talking about everything is blocked here.

    Phone lines are not working even if you try to call some it says called failed that is full conspiracy that people can’t contact with one and each other. Beside that some radicals had mixed poison in the Karachi- Hyderabad water plants. and 200 people died after that on the news government sad this fake new.

    That is democracy and enlightened moderation by PM Mushraff

  49. 49 Ateeq
    December 30, 2007 at 03:54

    Why islam and democary are not compatable, islam says that every person living has his own rights and rights must be respected wether they are normal life rights or political one’s. Every person wants democracy in Pak, but the leaders and high level persons, they have their own games and planning, every one is rushing to get ahead and grab the seat no matter what happens or who suffers.
    People are tied here no one hears what people says here…but what high level personals think,happens. So people here are faded up of political system, they are all doing on their own.

    As before Bhutto came to Pakistan there were many corruption cases on her, but with the deal with America to allow enterence of their forces in northern parts, she was allowed to come Pakistan,all cases were denied then, when courts issues something against government , they are over rulled, and court persons are pulled off from their positions. Not only court personals ,any one against government is pulled off, even the tv channels too.

    There is no extremism neither in Islam, nor in Pakistan, they are all games of higher officials.

    The deadth of bhutto was reason because of her head with contact with any part of car body, but videos and witness says clearly that it was a gun shot, but government is totally denying it, and also there were no investigations done not even forensic checkups…and next day a blame straigth to al-qaida,without any evidence just some self made evidence.

    People here have stopped taken intrest in politics, because they all know what they want is not happening here. If any of you will meet any Pakistani out there you will feel him as same as of ur nature. But now if high level people says that we have gained extremism, what can we say??

  50. December 31, 2007 at 00:20

    The pakistan people and politians to decide either to reform and make peaces within the whole country both country side and urbans area or they should depend on washington rule and get some fund to kills there people and leaders. Don’t you know that white house is mohter of evil and terrorist? they are supporting the government of that country for vilnance and not to like peace with local people there.Any vilence by people agaist gov’t is criminal and by gov’t agaist his people is crime too. the only solution is law and peace.Even in USA many terror are taking places in shopping centre,schools and many publics place but for you only can fund not for peaces but for killing and destorys your country.These for everyone there should know where the destractions come from?Peaces and demoracy belong to pakistan people and yours leaders not on forigners who are looking for blast and fire to happen in your country.

  51. 51 nengak daniel
    December 31, 2007 at 12:52

    Don’t know about democracy working in Pakistan afterall they are now in a democracy; Musharaf won election didn’t he?
    But I know that someday Pakistanis will see that killing each other only serves those forces agaisnt their development and unity and they will stop. This will be better done if outsiders leave them alone. God bless Pakistan

  52. 52 viola anderson
    December 31, 2007 at 17:37

    Try to think of a nation as a house. The house’s foundation represents the democracy upon which the rest of the house depends for stability, and there are many kinds of foundations that can be built, such as concrete, wood poles, etc., but the house is not complete. Here in Canada where there are lots of trees, wood framing is the next step in the building of a house. That framework is like the institutions of a country, such as banking systems, infrastructure, etc. The lighting, the heating, the water–all add to the comfort of the inhabitants of the house. After the house is complete, the people who live in the house can either take good care of the house with cleaning, repairs, etc., or they can choose to trash it and demand another house. The democracy (foundation) does nothing by itself. The people who inhabit the house decide the house’s fate. The Pakistani people can choose whatever foundation they want for their country, whether despotism, nepotism, tribalism, or any any “ism” you care to name. Any government can ultimately govern only by the consent of the governed. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking a “saviour” or charismatic, powerful leader is the answer because it is such a simple concept that everyone can understand. Democracy is much more difficult. Pakistani’s don’t appear a simplistic people to me. There are, however, forces arrayed against the notion of a democratic Pakistan. I wish them luck.

  53. 53 Walter Pais
    January 1, 2008 at 05:53

    I have Pakistani friends and I am an Indian. Our differences are superficial, as both countries have the same roots in food, culture and civilization.

    We are victims of history. First we were on our own. Then came the invasions first of the Moguls and then of the British and Portuguese.

    The interests of the invaders were in trade and expansion of their markets. They held the population in their grip through politically convenient means. When Britain had drained its coffers in World War II, they had to fore go the empire little by little and it was this sub continent – the Jewel in the Crown that had to be left off first.

    Political considerations led to the division of the country, with the old adage of “Divide and Rule” and thus in this game, India happened to be a stronger component who could survive and the other was weaker and susceptible to the manipulations of other powers. They were the gateway to Afghanistan and who were the pawns of Soviets and Western Powers. The rivalry between the latter, led to bolstering the Pakistan military rather than its people, and that was at the root cause of the problem.

    Even till today it is that logic that forces the US to intervene and assist the Military and the dilemmas that are faced by the Pakistanis are difficult to resolve. The first thing for democracy to take root, is for the West and other foreign powers ito let go of their self interest and allow the local population to develop freely.

    In this process they can take India as an example as they are their blood brothers even though there may be different in their faiths. Deep down they all think in the same way, and have the same culture. If one brother succeeded, the other one can surely succeed. Please allow my brothers the freedom to breath and grow. Let them off from the clutches of vested interests abroad.

  54. 54 Abida Hassan
    January 1, 2008 at 11:17

    Viola, In the fallacy of metaphor, the analogy can run away from you and develop a life of its own.Did you wish us luck? Or were your good wishes for the ‘forces arrayed against the notion of a democratic Pakistan’? Since the beginning, government has oscillated between uneducated feudal barons and rapacious generals, each out for himself, and the country go hang. I agree, the ‘ism’ doesn’t matter, but some defined approach is desirable. Usually, the worst members of society wriggle their way to the top.We’ve had sixty years of free-booting opportunism. Alas, it is still the order of the day.

  55. January 1, 2008 at 16:30

    You can’t have a democracy just like that [waves wand]. There has to be an ideological development of mutual trust both between people, and from Government to people, and back.

    Now the reason why this has not, cannot, develop in Pakistan is endemic to Islam itself. Islam is logically incompatible with a pluralist society. It’s an a priori Islamic truth that one can only obey the authority of Allah. This IS why Pakistan wanted to be separate from India and this IS the reason that it is a failed state.

    The only way to keep the Islamists (as they now seem to be called. I don’t like the term I prefer the word Muslim, but for the sake of clarity in the argument here I’ll succumb to the popular term) out of popular majority office is by a military dictatorship to hold them back . If this is not upheld then the Islamists will gain control only to revoke the very “democratic” vote that got them into power, they will them rule by Sharia law. Either way Pakistan is doomed to a dictorship.

    The idea that if the Islamists came to power they would bring about a democracy is as hopeful and as similar to the way in which the Nazi’s gained power i.e. by democratic vote and then when in power they revoked the democracy.

    This is the dilemma that Turkey is also in, it can only be held together by an undemocratic militia in order to hold back the upsurge of Islamic fundamentalism which in itself also leads to no democracy.

    We have a fine example of this in more recent history, note Iran 1970. By popular vote the capitalist Shah is ousted and the Islamic Fundamentalists took over by popular grass roots demand, hence end of any hope of a democracy.

    Pakistan is doomed by its religion and until it come to terms with this deeply fascist religious ideology it cannot have a democracy as a matter of logic.

    Finally, the idea of a 19 yr old BOY having the faintest idea how to run a country is quite preposterous.

    Pakistan is IMO doomed, I just hope it doesn’t take us with it.

  56. 56 viola anderson
    January 1, 2008 at 19:22

    Abida Hassan: You are right. When I read my post again, I see where I made a common writing boo-boo (mistake) that leads to confusion about what the writer is trying to say. Can you see the glow of my red face of embarrassment where you are living? Actually, that’s the kind of mistake that gives me a good belly laugh, whether I make it or someone else does. Please be assured I wish the Pakistani people luck in their efforts to bring a democracy into being. And yes, I know well that analogies fall apart if carried on to absurdity. I was actually hoping that I had this one under control. I wonder if you agree with Pippop that Islam is incompatible with democracy.

  57. 57 Abida Hassan
    January 2, 2008 at 12:38

    Viola, Islam is not a monolith. You find primary similarities among nations of the Islamic world, but there are also considerable differences. As I said in an earlier missive, Islam tends towards a kind of democratic socialism, so there is no problem with the concept as such. Islam is the youngest variant of the Semitic religions, very close to Judaism in its foundational assumptions, very close to Christianity in its universality(Muslims have a special regard for Jewish and Christian people). It has inbuilt mechanisms for change and development. Unfortunately, these are howled down by medievalists and literalists, of whom we have had a surfeit in recent years. One looks for causes. Living year after year in a state of war, or near war, or threatened war, is not good for democracy. Arab Muslims have had the Palestine problem for decades. We have lived under the hostile shadow of a much larger country for sixty years, plus major disturbances on our borders. What shall I say about the Afghans? Sitting in Canada it might be difficult for you to sympathize with all this, but it is real.In their refugee camps, I saw that which would make any person tremble–beautiful little girls and boys with limbs blown off by Soviet’liberators,’ strapping young men crippled beyond repair, old men crouching helplessly under donated blankets, terrified women clutching at a few ragged symbols of life. Forget about labels, Muslim, Christian, etc-these are human beings, of the same species as yourself. All right, you will say that that was because of the ‘barbaric’ Soviets, but we have seen plenty of savagery by so-called civilized westerners.It is a long story, Viola.In brief, I disagree with Pippop, who seems to be on another wavelength. It has nothing to do with Islam. These conditions have been visited upon us. Muslims are more sinned against than sinning. If they react with violence, it is because they have, gratuitously, experienced tons of it in recent times.

  58. January 3, 2008 at 13:15

    Abida Hassan , you are demonstrating the “typical” Muslim perspective of VICTIM from which the UK certainly and most of the rest of the world is getting heartily fed up. At some point you yourselves have to take responsibility for the barbaric practices carried out rightly or wrongly in the name of Islam that are far more familiar to Muslim countries than they are to any other religious and/or political regime.

    The treatment of women and girls in Afghanistan is breathtakingly revolting, the numbers who are prepared to set themselves on fire to avoid their fate is well recorded in spite of the effort to keep this from the media. Taliban or no Taliban there is very little difference in these Islamic warlords. This went on prior to any Soviet invasion and continues relentlessly today.

    The fate of women in Iraq is now disastrous as they live in fear of rape unless dressed Islamic style. We know how the women in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt are treated, no need to elaborate on the inhumanity of it.

    This psychotic attitude to females replicates itself throughout all Islamic countries, including those who are not officially, Islamic, Turkey, parts of the UK, parts of Canada, USA, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands. etc. where so, called “honour” killings, forced marriages, polygamy and female genital mutilation, (all of which takes place in these countries as well as here in the UK with impunity) are all carried out by people who claim to be doing this in the name of Islam.

    While your religious mindset can treat half the human race in this barbaric way, your mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters, what then can those you label the infidel expect?

    Until this is addressed it seems to me that you cannot ask for nor expect any respect. You need a reformation and one that relinquishes gender based power, something that I notice Muslim men fear more than Christianity or Judaism.

  59. January 3, 2008 at 13:33


    These women have not been liberated from their hell at all.


    This is UNICEF’s photo of the year 2007. The bride is 11yrs old, the groom in his 40’s or 50s.

    We can weep over our sons being killed or mutilated in war but what happens to the women and girls of the world in or out of war we seem to prefer to stay quiet about it. It’s amazing also to what extent we can get women themselves to collude in this silence.

  60. January 3, 2008 at 14:30

    Democracy,transparent and peacefull vote in Pakistan?
    pls.don’t overlook ground reality and state of mind the dictator and his ally part PMQ.

    As have seen chief Electin Commissioner in Islamabad during a news conference announced the postponement of election to 18 february.

    In the meanwhile major parties insisting on vote on 8th january.

    the fact of the day is that,after assassination of Bhutto common man really don’t believe in dictator due to his rivalery behav with Pakistan Peoples Party and ML(N)

    Bhutto’s assassination has totally changed the political scenario in the country.With the postponement of general election a new sequence of allegation and counter allegation has also begun.

    Conflict is going up day by day.Warning needle has left its place and running toward Red Point.The same would creat a pretence further postponement of elections.

  61. 61 viola anderson
    January 3, 2008 at 19:14

    Abida Hassan and others: Here is a quote from a book I am reading that has helped clarify my thinking about religion; “Yet since all the various spiritual traditions and philosophies exist on account of people’s diverse mentalities and interests, it follows that they must all, in a sense, be ‘true.’ But if there are all these authentic religions and philosophies, and yet now only one of them is regarded as correct, isn’t this a contradiction? It seems we have to accommodate two ways of thinking simultaneously: the idea that all religions are good and the idea that the religion we practice is the authentic one.” That quote is from MIND IN COMFORT AND EASE, chapter l, page 7, paragraph 2, written by the Dalai Lama. I have all my life known people of different religions who are good and do not wish to harm others who are nevertheless unable to make that leap in their thought processes, more’s the pity. It strikes me that the quote is not a result of sloppy thinking or ignorance of others’ religious beliefs, but is a genuine attempt by a fine mind to show the world a path that can lead to understanding and peace between those differing religious beliefs. I am entering unfamiliar terrain here, but isn’t there a similar controversy in the field of physics regarding quantum physics and atomic physics, which have yet to be unified into a single model that describes reality?

  62. 62 Abida Hassan
    January 4, 2008 at 10:47

    Pippop, Have you conducted a worldwide survey? On what basis have you set yourself up as a spokesman for the ‘rest of the world’? I am a Muslim woman who wears pretty much what she likes, and am as much worried about gender issues as anyone else But it is difficult to talk to people whose perceptions are acquired from inflated, sensational accounts. If we were to jump to universal conclusions about ,say, Britain, from sensationalised stories of wife-beating, rape and murder (you have all of these and more), and then jump to uninformed opinions about Christianity, we would be like many of our western friends. Some of us are. But we have to live the daily reality of certain things, many of which have been inflicted on us. Of course, the primary fault is our own, that we left ourselves open to them. As I said earlier, the working principle in international politics is power, the ability to kill, as represented by numbers and types of bombs etc., plus money, not morality. It is a lesson we are learning slowly, perhaps too slowly. There are exploiters everywhere, and probably in greater numbers in noisy, self-regarding Europe and its noisier, even more self-regarding child, America, than in our part of the world. This is neither good nor bad. It is a brutal reality. I’m sure those Soviet heroes who blew up harmless shepherds and little children thought they should get medals–they were saving the world for socialism. I’m sure the current run of heroes who sometimes blow up wedding guests (Oops, sorry! We didn’t mean to kill you–but you shoudn’t mind being blown up. Be reasonable. You should expect some collateral damage. Our cause is great and holy–we are bombing and burning Muslim women in order to liberate them from the mad mullahs) think the same. They are saving the world for democracy. There is another side to this, Pippop.

  63. 63 George
    January 15, 2008 at 09:20


    In the middle ages we had the crusades based on religious doctrine.

    Your sentiments are clearly strong.

    Raising an army for Feminism from scratch looks like a hard sell.

    Might you lead mass enlistments of feminists?

    Wouldn’t a rally with a seething mob of feminist marching on the enlistment office do the trick?

  64. 64 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 9, 2008 at 03:44

    i hope democracy will work in pakistan….

    dennis from madrid, united states of america

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: