Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Affirming democracy

Press Trust of India

Even as the movement by the Opposition in Pakistan to oust the military regime is gathering steam, a recent study claims a majority of Pakistanis back Army rule, with Bangladesh being the only other South Asian country to follow the trend.

“The idea that the country should be governed by the Army was endorsed by six out of every 10 responses in Pakistan and Bangladesh,” said the State of Democracy in South Asia report, adding that about half the Pakistanis said both the democratic or non-democratic forms of government made no difference to them.

The least support for Army rule is in India, the report said, adding the support for the Army rule diminishes in the countries which are educationally in the forefront.

But overall, the South Asians overwhelmingly support democracy with Sri Lanka emerging as the country where democracy was most popular, while India was placed third in terms of the percentage of people expressing support for the democratic system, the study said.

“The people not only approve of democratic arrangements, they find it suitable for their own contexts. Seven out of eight responses in the region, higher than in East Asia, held that democracy was ‘suitable’ or ‘very suitable’ for their own country,” the report said.

The study found that the citizens of South Asia do not simply like democracy; they prefer it to authoritarian rule.

“With the exception of Pakistan, about two-thirds of those who responded preferred democracy to any other form of government,” the report added.

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