Democracy and Tolerance

  Every morning when I am driving to work, the news that I hear on NPR, is turbulence in Pakistan and declaration of military emergency in Pakistan by President General Pervez Musharraf.  The constitution was dissolved; liberal minded judges of the country got suspended.  Lawyers have come to the street for picketing and they are getting arrested.  Political parties have not come out to protest in full swing and what I heard in the news, that they are not banking a lot on a united movement by the political parties either….

What is it that made Pakistan different from India?  Both the countries sought independence 60 years back from the British.  However, Pakistan spent most of its independent days under military rule!!  Why is democracy a difficult concept in Pakistan?  Has tolerance any role to play?  Have the fundamental ideas made it difficult to bring in democracy?

Definition of Democracy as in

  • the political orientation of those who favor government by the people or by their elected representatives
  • a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them
  • majority rule: the doctrine that the numerical majority of an organized group can make decisions binding on the whole group 

Definitions of military on the Web as in

  • of or relating to the study of the principles of warfare; "military law"
  • characteristic of or associated with soldiers or the military; "military uniforms"
  • the military forces of a nation; "their military is the largest in the region"; "the military machine is the same one we faced in 1991 but now it is weaker"
  • associated with or performed by armed services as contrasted with civilians; "military police"

An interesting article From Guns to Cereal, Military Dominates Pakistan on talks how deep-rooted military rule is in Pakistan.  This article explains how Pakistan became a military regime country and got military aid from western allies.

What is the success story of India or any other country having democracy?  Has the tolerant philosophy of these countries help them to remain democratic?  As I continued researching further on the idea if tolerance has any major role to play in democracy, I found interesting discussions on the web. 

An interview with Bangladesh opposition leader Sheikh Hasina Wajed on The Times, "Democracy Means Tolerance. We Don’t Have That",, talks about the intolerance in Bangladesh, and as a result democracy is very difficult concept in that region.

I can continue giving several examples to show how democracy cannot stand in a very intolerant society.  Should there be reform in philosophy of those nations to establish democracy? 

To love democracy, it is necessary to love it moderately. This phrase summarizes the principal lesson of the thought of Count Alexis de Tocqueville, one of the 19th century’s most significant political philosophers.

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