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Most Pakistanis favour military rule: Survey

In Pakistan, about a half the respondents said that democratic or non-democratic forms of government made no difference to them.

india Updated: Dec 25, 2006 14:38 IST

A majority of Pakistanis favour army rule. But that is preferred the least in India. This is a survey on choices of the people of South Asia.

Six out of 10 Pakistanis prefer military administration, said the report, adding that higher the education, lower is the support for the army.

The survey was conducted in five South Asian countries - Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka, which has had an unbroken record of democratic functioning, loves democracy the most.

Bangladesh, going to the most contentious polls next month, comes second as the most upbeat nation when it comes to democracy.

Democratic values were one of the principal reasons for Bangladesh parting from Pakistan. But it has had phases of military rule and military-guided democracies during 1975-90.

India comes third in terms of democratic preferences, says the survey "Study of Democracy in South Asia" by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) in collaboration with the International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance, Stockholm and Department of Sociology, Oxford University.

Half of Pakistanis are not keen on democracy, the CSDS survey said, ostensibly reflective of the sentiment in urban areas that have been critical of the two short-lived tenures of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif.

The only democratically elected government to complete its tenure was that of ZA Bhutto (1972-77), when the country got its present constitution. The Daily Times reported the survey on Sunday.

Pakistan appears to be an exception in that people in South Asia overwhelmingly support democracy.

In Pakistan, about a half the respondents said that democratic or non-democratic forms of government made no difference to them.

South Asia has more takers for democracy than Southeast Asia, East Asia, post-Soviet Europe and Latin America.

"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 CSDS survey said.

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

For every one response that endorses dictatorship, there are six that prefer democracy, which compares favourably with the ratio obtained in East Asia, Latin America and post-Soviet era countries of Europe.

However, about a quarter in other countries and half the respondents in Pakistan said democratic or non-democratic forms of government made no difference to them.

"The idea that the country should be governed by the army was endorsed by six out of every 10 responses in Pakistan," the report said.

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