Daily Archives: August 26, 2010

Why is Pakistani Middleclass So Skeptical of Democracy and Why Our Defense is Not Convincing?

By Raza Habib Raja

The statement issued by MQM chief, Altaf Hussein, calling for Army’s intervention to “correct” the corrupt politicians has stirred the political landscape. Mind you MQM is not a very popular party outside Karachi and Hyderabad and yet presently his statement is getting nods of approval from various quarters particularly from the middleclass. Since most of the people do not want to be branded as “undemocratic” therefore approval is subtle at times but you can still see that it is there. Most interestingly majority of the middleclass people I have talked to, particularly from Punjab say that they are actually reviewing their previously bad opinion of MQM!!

Right now the affluent middleclass is again at the forefront demanding implicitly and at time vocally that democracy should be purged. Of course the liberal side opposes it and should oppose it but at the same time most of the “defense” from the liberal quarters does not go beyond name calling and allegations. For example a typical response would be to brand middleclass as bigoted and authoritarian with naïve understanding of geopolitical culture. Moreover, standard references to disrespect of “unwashed’ masses would be made. And of course this is supplemented by terms like drawing room gossip, reactionary , chattering classes etc.

Defense of democracy has to be realistic and not based on lauding passionate speeches about unwashed masses particularly when politicians apparently care little themselves about the masses. The central thrust should be to present first a convincing case as to why democracy is a better option compared to armed dictatorship and frankly a very strong case based on historical evidence exists despite chequered history of democratic regimes. And yes admit the shortcomings of the politicians also as weaknesses of politicians are not necessarily weaknesses of the entire political system.

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