Democratic Values and Support for Militant Politics: Evidence from a National Survey of Pakistan
PRINCETON UNIV NJ WOODROW WILSON SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
Pagination or Media Count:
A longstanding research tradition on political culture argues that greater support for core liberal values leads to a rejection of destructive political activities and reduced support for violent politics. In this vein, many contemporary analysts of security policy contend that a lack of democratic values in the Middle East promotes the development of violent political organizations. Unfortunately, there have been few direct tests of the hypothesis that an individuals rejection of democratic values correlates with support for militant groups. We conducted such a test in Pakistan using an original 6,000-person survey that is representative of adults in each of Pakistans four main provinces Punjab, Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkwa KPK, and Balochistan. Our survey is the first to measure affect towards a range of specific militant organizations in one country, the first to measure beliefs about the importance of core democratic values, and the first to be representative of rural and urban regions for each province of Pakistan. We found that support for a set of liberal democratic values -- property rights, free speech, independent courts, the ability of citizens to elect representatives, a separation of civilian and military power, and freedom of assembly -- is positively related to support for militancy. Strong supporters of democratic values are more supportive of militant groups and this relationship is strongest among those who believe that Muslim rights and sovereignty are being violated in Kashmir and Afghanistan. This is consistent with the context of Pakistani politics, where many militant groups use the principle of azadi i.e., freedom and self-determination to justify their actions. These results challenge the conventional wisdom about the roots of militancy and underscore the importance of understanding how local context mediates the influence of civic culture on political stability and violence.
- Government and Political Science
- Sociology and Law
- Unconventional Warfare