Democratic Values and Support for Militancy: Evidence from a National Survey of Pakistan
45 Pages Posted: 3 May 2011 Last revised: 24 Jun 2011
Date Written: June 14, 2011
A long tradition of research into political culture argues that greater support for core liberal democratic values leads to a rejection of destructive political activities and reduced support for violent politics. Policymakers have long drawn on this line of enquiry, arguing that "exporting" democracy can reduce violent political activity such as terrorism. Unfortunately, there have been few direct tests of the hypothesis that mass-level support for democratic values correlates with the rejection of violence. We conduct such a test in Pakistan, a country that is both a significant source of militancy and one whose citizens suffer massively from terrorism. We designed, conducted, and analyzed an original 6,000-person provincially-representative survey and find that strong supporters of democratic values are actually more supportive of militant groups focused outside of Pakistan than Pakistanis less favorable towards liberal democracy. Consistent with the principle of azadi, this result is driven by those who believe that Muslim rights and sovereignty are being violated in Kashmir. Our results both challenge the conventional wisdom that has formed the basis of public policy as well as contribute to theoretical debates on the influence of civic culture on political stability and violence.
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