Why Democracy Is Killing Pakistan, Indonesia
Pankaj Mishra: Politicians 'cynically deploy radical groups'
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2013 6:00 PM CST
A Pakistani man, reacts next to the body of a relative who was killed in a bomb blast, at a hospital's morgue in Karachi, Pakistan, Sunday, March 3, 2013. Pakistani officials say a bomb blast has killed...   (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

(Newser) – Indonesia and Pakistan are plagued by sectarian violence despite their embrace of democratic ideals—but why? According to Pankaj Mishra, writing at Bloomberg, their democracy is actually the problem. While officials secretly wield power through extremist groups and conservative Islamists flame religious tensions, elected officials are only making things worse: "In the absence of substantive democracy," writes Mishra, leaders "cynically deploy radical groups to practice power politics."

In Pakistan, for example, mainstream leaders allegedly pay off a Shiite-killing terrorist group because it gathers votes for elections due this year. In Indonesia, lighter political restrictions have allowed militias and terrorist organizations to be officially recognized. Governments, meanwhile, are too fragmented to face extremists or grapple with poverty. And progressive parties have been unable to overcome decades of crushing blows from the ruling elite. "One day, this dyad of dupes and extremists may well be regarded as a byproduct of a particularly unstable and grim phase in the evolution of democracy," writes Mishra. "But that day will come only if democracy amounts to something more than ... a way of further empowering the rich and the powerful." Click for Mishra's full column.

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Showing 3 of 34 comments
Mar 10, 2013 6:05 PM CDT
reads like Made in the USA. where there is money, there is corruption, where there is the elemination of democracy.
Mar 5, 2013 2:39 PM CST
The title is "How Democracy Kills in Indonesia and Pakistan" However the article describes anything but democracy. It's not democracy killing these countries its corruption. Get it straight.
Mar 5, 2013 11:36 AM CST
Chicago politcs in Pakistan. Well, if you can't see the problem with division politics in America, take a long look at Pakistan. This is why US Founders set up a Republic, which is rooted in law more than democratic/mob rule, but are things changing? I get the distinct impression that Obama likes the mob more than he likes the law.