Democracy in Muslim Societies (Orf Studies in Contemporary Muslim Societies) - PDF Free Download (2024)


SERIES NOTE Many developing countries are confronted with the twin imperatives of development and modernisation. Each has responded in a distinct manner to these impulses. The underlying premises and perceptions shape public policy. The developing societies in the Muslim world are a part of this wider process. The Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi, has initiated a programme of studying the dynamics of change in Muslim societies in the neighbourhood of India with the objective of identifying the forces at work and the impact they may have on future developments. Observer Research Foundation (ORF) is a public policy think tank that aims to inference formulation of policies for building a strong and prosperous India. The ORF pursues these goals by providing informed and productive inputs, in-depth research and stimulating discussion. The Foundation is supported in its mission by a cross-section of India’s leading public figures, academics and business leaders.


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Copyright © Observer Research Foundation, 2007 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilised in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Jointly published in 2007 by Sage Publications India Pvt Ltd B 1/ I1, Mohan Cooperative Industrial Area Mathura Road, New Delhi 110 044 Sage Publications Inc 2455 Teller Road Thousand Oaks, California 91320 Sage Publications Ltd 1 Oliver’s Yard, 55 City Road London EC1Y 1SP Sage Publications Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd 33 Pekin Street #02-01 Far East Square, Singapore 048763 and Observer Research Foundation 20, Rouse Avenue Institutional Area New Delhi 110 002 Published by Vivek Mehra for Sage Publications India Pvt Ltd, typeset in 10/12 Calisto MT by Excellent Laser Typesetters, Delhi and printed at Chaman Enterprises, New Delhi. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Democracy in Muslim societies: the Asian experience/edited by Zoya Hasan p. cm.—(ORF studies in Contemporary Muslim societies; v. 4) Includes index. 1. Democracy—Islamic countries. 2. Political culture—Islamic countries. 3. Islam and politics. I. Hasan, Zoya. JQ1852.A91D46


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The Sage Team: Sugata Ghosh and Neha Kohli

CONTENTS Foreword by M. Hamid Ansari Acknowledgements

7 10

Introduction Zoya Hasan


1. The Struggle for Democracy in Bangladesh Amena Mohsin and Meghna Guhathakurta 2. The Indonesian Experience in Implementing Democracy Adriana Elisabeth 3. The History of the Democratic Movement in Iran in the 20th Century Sadegh Zibakalam




4. Islam and Democracy in Malaysia Abdul Rahman Embong


5. Functioning of Democracy in Pakistan Mohammad Waseem


6. Interaction of Democracy and Islam in Turkey Korel Göymen


About the Editor and Contributors Index

258 261

FOREWORD This book is the fourth in the series ORF Studies in Contemporary Muslim Societies. It seeks to explore, like the earlier volumes, the impulses at work in Muslim societies and the dynamics of social forces shaping opinion and action. The debate about democracy and democratisation in Muslim societies, though of older vintage, has acquired an edge in recent years. One line of argument is typified by Francis f*ckuyama and his judgement that ‘there does seem to be something about Islam, or at least the fundamentalist versions of Islam that have been dominant in recent years, that makes Muslim societies particularly resistant to modernity’, with democracy being an important ingredient of the latter. The other, equally strident, is articulated (amongst others) by the Indonesian Islamist intellectual Mohammad Shiddiq Al-Jawi: that the ‘Muslim community will evaluate democracy from the perspective of the Islamic faith’ and will find that ‘democratic freedoms are in sharp conflict with the freedoms found in Islam’. The convergence in rejection is noteworthy. Neither makes allowance for revisiting the texts for evolving perceptions or for varied patterns of behaviour amongst Muslims as groups in societies living in space and time in different lands. The debate is far from academic; at stake is what President George W. Bush called ‘the war for the Muslim mind’. The outcome of the contention has strategic implications. Nor is the chronology irrelevant. Two decades back, scholars were approvingly citing Amir Abdur Rahman’s remark about Afghan tenacity in resistance: ‘[They] would sacrifice every drop of blood till the last man was killed, in fighting for their God, their Prophet, their religion, their families, their nation,



their liberty and independence.’ A decade later, ‘conservative Muslims’ were still within the fold and only the ‘radicals’ beyond the pale. September 11, 2001 made the faith itself a ‘strategic enemy’. Lost was the distinction between a religion per se and its adherents scattered in different lands. This change of perspective necessitated a theoretical underpinning. Samuel Huntington’s thesis, and f*ckuyama’s commentary, inevitably followed. The post-9/11 effort to reform and modernise Muslim societies provided the rationale. Promotion of democracy became the chosen instrument much as human rights had served a similar purpose in the Cold War. The purpose of this study is to test the premises of the compatibility argument, in theoretical and empirical terms. The first relates to the Muslim imagery about governance and the terms on which legitimacy is bestowed on political authority. The evidence here is unambiguous; conditionality is writ large on the concept of allegiance; a provision for dissent is built into it. The historical record of Muslim rulers, however, is a different matter altogether. The dichotomy is explained by Al Ghazali’s remark about necessity, and the choice between tyranny and anarchy. In our own times, this doctrine of necessity became the anchor of undemocratic governance. In empirical terms, demographic data tells its own story. Eightyfive per cent Muslims of the world live outside the Arab world and 70 per cent of the total are in non-Arab Asian countries. Evidence of the political behaviour pattern is thus to be sought principally in the latter group. With this in view, six Asian countries, overwhelmingly Muslim in terms of population (except Malaysia where Muslims constitute 55 per cent of the total), were selected for the study, and scholars from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey were requested to dwell on the democratic discourse and its outcome in their own countries. Some supportive evidence for perceptions is available in the data from World Value Surveys. It show that as far as preferences go, a clear majority agree that ‘democracy may have problems, but it’s better than other forms of government’; the percentage of agreement being 98 for Bangladesh, 71 for Indonesia, 69 for Iran, 82 for Pakistan and 88 for Turkey. The six essays and Professor Zoya Hasan’s assessment address in varying degrees the questions raised. Their answers project a varied pattern in terms of perceptions and practice. Performance levels have



inevitably been affected by the experience of each society in terms of governance. The central thesis of compatibility, nevertheless, does seem to hold. M. Hamid Ansari Distinguished Fellow, ORF New Delhi, February 2006

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank Hamid Ansari, who led the Observer Research Foundation project on Muslim societies of which this book is a part, for his constant support, and unfailingly prompt and helpful advice on various issues related to this project. This book owes much to his intellectual support and encouragement in regard to the conceptualisation and organisation of the project, and to making sure the project was realised. I am grateful to all those who participated in the conference organised to discuss the concept of the project for their contribution to developing the project proposal. Above all, grateful thanks must be expressed to all those who have written for this volume. It is impossible to acknowledge adequately the time and effort they have put into the country studies, and the time they took off from their busy schedules to participate in the project conference in Delhi. Without their efforts this book would have been impossible. I would also like to thank R.K. Mishra, Chairman, Observer Research Foundation, for providing help and backing for the completion of this study. Thanks are also due to the staff of the Observer Research Foundation for their assistance in the coordination of the project and in making the project conference a success. Last but not the least, a very special thanks and appreciation to Adnan Farooqui for his excellent research support for the project and the Introduction for this volume. Zoya Hasan New Delhi


The tragedy of 9/11 and its aftermath focussed the world’s attention on Muslim politics. The shattering events in New York provoked a number of hard questions about Islam and the Muslim world. George W. Bush’s description of the attack on the World Trade Center as an attack on human freedom suggested images of a clash between militant intolerant Islam and the pluralist liberal free world, and between democracy and authoritarian regimes. It once again raised questions about the compatibility of Islam with democracy and the democratic deficit in the Muslim world. Is democracy the exception rather than the norm in Muslim societies? The debate over democracy, its definition and fundamentals, as well as its impact on governments’ domestic and foreign policies, has continued for a long time. Is democracy the best political system for promoting political, civil and economic rights? Can democracies continue to keep the average citizen involved in politics? Are democracies really more peaceful than non-democracies? Above all, is democracy appropriate or desirable as a political system for developing societies? That is, can an essentially Western political system and political arrangements work in non-Western societies? The Asian experience suggests that democracy can indeed work in different settings. The success of India’s democracy with a large Muslim population who are among its most enthusiastic participants shows that it can work, provided there is an emphasis on pluralism and equality.



Elections ranging from municipal to parliamentary have occurred from time to time in several Muslim countries. The 1990s and the early years of the 21st century have witnessed open electoral competition for legislative seats in Bangladesh (1991, 1996 and 2001); Indonesia (1999 and 2004); Malaysia (1995, 1999 and 2004); Pakistan (1990, 1993 and 1997); and Turkey (1995, 1999 and 2002). Bangladesh has had three democratic transfers of power and two of the prime ministers have been Muslim women. As a result, all economic and social indicators in Bangladesh have been pointing upwards lately (UN Human Development Report 2005). Saudi Arabia had its first taste of the ballot in the form of elections for local government in 2004. Iran had a brush with competitive party-based elections. Egypt’s first multi-candidate presidential election in September 2005 resulted in 30 per cent voter turnout amidst claims of fraud and intimidation, underlining the challenges that lie ahead for many Muslim countries embarking on the path of democratisation. To be sure, competitive and party-based elections are not a common feature of the polities of the Muslim world. Consequently, there is a pervasive and persistent view that the socio-political ethos of Islam as a religion and/or of Muslim societies is responsible for this institutional deficit, which prevents these societies from opting for democracy as a form of government. This perception has acquired great currency in the context of the global war on terror and the focus on Arab states because of their great strategic importance. It does not take into account the non-Arab states—from Turkey in the West and Indonesia in the East—which have fared much better with regard to electoral politics and in the establishment of the institutional structures for this process, notwithstanding periodic breakdowns, crises and military interventions. This alarmist view on the other hand finds sustenance from an unremitting focus on Arab countries that account for only a quarter of the world’s Muslim population; yet much of the scholarship on Muslims is about Arab lands and the efflorescence of Islamic civilisation in this region, and the crisis in the world of Islam is, therefore, also located in those parts. To understand the processes of democratisation, however, we need to look further afield to Asian societies to grasp the varieties of Muslim politics and the multiple paths undertaken in the quest for democracy. The six country papers in this study attempt to do just that.



I A minimalist definition of democracy counts all those states that hold regular elections in conditions of political freedom. Thus, the defining standard of contemporary democracy is essentially an electoralist conception of democracy. This overview, however, focuses more on the broader phenomena of democratic politics of which free and fair elections is certainly a necessary feature, but not a sufficient one, as many might argue. The purely electoralist conception, drawn from the experience of Western liberal democracies, tends to overlook the socio-historical evolution and economic development of the country, the interplay of internal and external factors in the development of democracy, and, hence, fails to explain adequately the widespread problems of democratic transitions or democratic breakdowns (Linz and Stepan 1996). The historically grounded perspective raises important questions regarding the compatibility of Islam and democracy, whether there are deep-rooted obstacles to the growth of democracy, and whether, in fact, a broader conception of democracy might enhance our understanding of the challenges of the consolidation of democracy generally. In other words, democratisation is a process, not a philosophy or simply a matter of constitutional law or holding regular elections. This overview attempts to examine and reflect upon the spread of democracy and its prospects in the Muslim world. The question of democracy or Islam’s compatibility with democracy has been widely commented upon, especially for the Arab world (see, for example, Esposito 1984; Madjid 1994; Norton 1993; Salame 1994). It seeks to explore the character of political transformation with special emphasis on the non-Arab Muslim world and their political experience in recent times. Many earlier studies have dealt only with the Middle Eastern and North African countries. We focus instead on Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Turkey and Iran, and thus extend the analysis of the many facets of the Muslim world through a comparative analysis of the Asian experience. The shift from Arab to Asian societies is an intellectual move that helps deconstruct and unpack both the categories of democracy and Muslim. It is a move that questions stereotypes born out of what Mahmood Mamdani (2005) calls ‘culture talk’, which dominates discussion of Muslim politics after 9/11.



What has been the nature of the political discourse in recent years at the elite and civil society levels? Have Islam and Islamic norms of governance figured in this discourse? Have there been changes in this discourse over the years? Has the debate sought to identify, highlight or resolve any perceived contradiction between Islamic principles on the one hand and democratic governance (as understood in contemporary usage) on the other? Have discussions on this theme undergone a change in the recent past? To what extent does the political system in the country guarantee, in law and in practice, the basic civil and political rights of citizens? Is there a culture of participation? Analysis of some of these questions has a bearing on our understanding of democratic politics and institutions, and the actual procedures and practices of electoral politics and representative government in Muslim societies. We explore some of these broader questions in the overview, while the country papers explore the specific character of politics and how far any given country has gone in the transition to a democratic regime. We seek to assess the democratic performance of a country using national-level criteria and surveys, and assess the extent of the actual democratisation process in each country.

II The most influential perspective with regard to politics in the Muslim world points to a democratic deficit that characterises it, and ascribes the absence of democracy to the totalistic character of Islam, its ability to penetrate interstate boundaries, and the complete adherence of its believers to specific behavioural tenets of Islamic culture (Ahmed 2007). The general belief is that while all other cultures have adjusted to democracy, Islam’s totalism hinders the emergence of democracy in the Muslim world (ibid.). According to this view, Islam constitutes the language of politics in the Muslim world, and, consequently, Muslim politics everywhere is unavoidably Islamic (Eickelman and Piscatori 1997). The proponents of this view converge on a consensus that is operationalised by invariably giving emphasis to cultural variables that help mould forces responsible for the structure of political action and systems in different countries. Samuel Huntington and Francis f*ckuyama put forward a bolder thesis that the religious culture of a state impact on its democratic trajectory (Huntington 1993,



f*ckuyama 1993). The supposed incompatibility of Islam and democracy features prominently in these discussions; indeed, it draws its charge from such theories. Despite the diversity of both religious and political fields, it is widely believed that the key to understanding contemporary Muslim societies is to be found in a structure of beliefs and traditions that was devised and implemented at the moment at which they adopted Islam (or shortly after). This view, often labelled as ‘Muslim exceptionalism’, holds that these societies are, as Ernest Gellner (Gellner 1983) has put it, permeated by an ‘implicit constitution’ providing a ‘blueprint’ of the social order. This view has been intensely criticised by a number of scholars, but it still exercises tremendous influence in the academia and, with much more devastating effects, in the media. This theory derives from two assumptions: first, that the past overdetermines the present; and, second, that the remote past continues to guide the present (Filali Ansary 1999). The past has such a strong grip it is said that it can and does channel, limit or even block the effects of technological, economic or social change and, of course, democratisation (ibid.: 19). There is also an extensive body of literature arguing that many key aspects of democracy are lacking in the Islamic tradition. The lack of separation between religion and the state supposedly stems from Prophet Mohammed’s fusion of military and spiritual authority. This gave rise to scholarly assertions that Islam and democracy are incompatible, but some others have rightly cautioned against falling into the ‘Islamic free-elections trap’ (Stepan 2000: 48). According to this view, allowing free elections in Islamic countries would bring to power governments that would use these democratic freedoms to destroy democracy itself. However, competitive politics, far from being a ‘trap’, actually encourages the diversity of political expression and prevents the reduction of the political discourse to revivalism versus secularism (Nasr 1995: 279). To argue that religious culture has no bearing on social life and organisation in these states would be illogical, but to argue that these religious beliefs independently dictate political trends and outcomes would be to attribute to them a cohesiveness that they do not possess (ibid.). It is frequently assumed in both the academic and popular analysis of the Muslim world that there is no separation between the religious and political spheres in Islam. This is a myth to which Islamist rhetoric has contributed in considerable measure. Consequently, an image has been created not merely of the indivisibility of religion and



state, but of religious doctrine determining the political trajectory of Muslim states, including their inability to accept the notion of popular sovereignty or to implement democratic reforms. Nothing could be further from the truth. Muslim leaders maintained the fiction of the indivisibility between religion and state primarily in order to legitimise authoritarian rule and to hide the fact that the religious establishment was actually subservient to temporal authority. It would be misleading to argue that the political language of Islam is uniform or to see it as possessing uniform relevance to political and social action. Muslim politics, like politics everywhere, involves a contest over state control. That locating the boundaries of state and society places Muslim politics into multiple and shifting contexts is obvious. This need for contextualisation applies to all politics, and in this respect Muslim politics is not unique (Ehteshami 2004). Fundamentalist movements, radical and conservative, spread among a part of the Muslim population in the 1980s (Roy 2004). Two different movements drive Islamist politics. Radical Islamists see reorganisation of society as the only way to change the state, while conservative Islamists see the seizing of power as the sole way to change either state or society. Radical Islamists like the Hizbollah or the Front Islamique du Salut (FIS; Islamic Salvation Front, in English) in Algeria demand that everyone, including women, participate in public life. Conservative Islamists not only oppose the participation of women in politics but are also sectarian. Both claim to adhere to the Shari’a, but its conservative notion excludes any meaningful space for democracy. The difference lies in the respective attitudes towards ijtihad, an institution that allows for legal principles to be interpreted in the light of changing historical contexts (Mamdani 2005). The dividing line between the two strands is not the commitment to a rule of law, but to popular participation in state affairs. The key issue is the status of Shari’a in the affairs of the state.1 Society-centred movements committed to a strategy of change that call for increased popular participation in politics resemble Latin American movements inspired by Christian theology. In contrast, statecentred movements seek to contain popular participation and see the state rather than society as the true subject of historical change. The single conviction that unites radical Islamist intellectual is the preoccupation with taking power. Islamist statism has arisen, however, through different routes. One is the unpopular regime such as the Zia dictatorship in Pakistan to legitimise power. The other is the late Cold



War project in Central Asia, the American jihad. Radical Islamists like the Hizbollah have sought popular support in a democratic contest in order to develop national roots, while the absence of that possibility or the fear of the same has led statist movements to turn supra-national. Despite their claim to be supra-national, most Islamist movements have been shaped by national contexts and peculiarities. The apparent exceptions are Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and the Muslim Brotherhood (in terms of organisation). In these cases, Islamic nationalism has been superseded by Islamic transnationalism.

III For all these reasons, we need to be wary of discussing Muslim societies and polities in the abstract and as part of a unitary system called the world of Islam. The 54 Muslim countries have a variety of economic and political systems. The picture is complicated by the fact that very few Muslim countries actually follow the teachings of Islam in legislation or even political organisation. While most declare themselves to be Muslim in character, most do not formally adhere to Shari’a as the basis of their national law. Indeed, the remarkable fact is that most Muslim states have, in fact, adopted modern written constitutions and secular attitudes towards institutional structures. As one looks around the Muslim region, therefore, one finds that there is no one political or judicial system prevailing in the Muslim world; nor, indeed, is there uniformity amongst these states (Maddex 1996). Politics and society cohabit and interact in very different ways across time and space. For this reason it is difficult to develop a common basis for an ideal-type Islamic state, let alone one that could be presented to the world as an Islamic or Muslim democracy. In statistical terms, 85 per cent of the world’s Muslims are nonArabs and over 70 per cent live in Asian states. The Muslims of South Asia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh included, account for 40 per cent of the Muslim world. Islam in these parts is even today qualitatively different. Islam in India flourished and was influenced by its exposure to many cultures and religions since its arrival on the Malabar coast during the lifetime of the Prophet. Both Pakistan and Bangladesh, despite Islamisation and jihadist trends, are essentially inheritors of this legacy of moderation and syncretism. The presence or absence of



democratic governance in Arab or West Asian countries cannot, therefore, be reason enough for a generalised statement about the compatibility or otherwise of Islam/Muslim society and democracy. On the contrary, a different geographical paradigm—Asian or African— contradicts such a perception and presents a different picture. Of more than 1.2 billion individuals who constitute the Muslim world today, the majority inhabits the Asian countries of Indonesia, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. What is generally conceived of as the ‘Islamic heartland’ in the Arabian Peninsula is, in fact, home to a minority of the Umma; even within the Middle East (broadly conceived), the largest concentration of Muslims is in Iran and Turkey rather than the Arab world (Zakaria 2003: 127). One of colonialism’s bequests is that English, French and Russian are more widely understood across the Muslim world than either of its most ancient languages, Arabic and Persian, or any of the myriad vernaculars (Devji 2005). This pattern is accentuated by globalisation of the media and borders. In terms of the quotidian realities of life, the range of standards of literacy, education and urbanisation—of the material ‘quality of life’—is as varied as the geo-cultural diversity (ibid.). Since the early 1990s, political openings in a number of Muslimmajority countries, namely, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan (before its 1999 military coup) and Turkey—all of them outside the Arab world—have seen Islamic-oriented and non-Islamist parties vying successfully for votes (Nasr 2005: 14). The most populous Muslim country in the world, Indonesia, has had secular governments since its independence in 1949, with a religious opposition that is tiny (though now growing). As for Islam’s compatibility with capitalism, Indonesia was until recently the World Bank’s model Third World country, having liberalised its economy and grown at 7 per cent a year for almost three decades. Most Muslims countries are in the Third World and share its problems of poverty, corruption and misgovernance. The majority of the world’s Muslims live in electoral democracies today, albeit weak; if there is a fundamental incompatibility, then this would not have been so. Many of these countries, like other developing countries, suffer from acute socio-economic and political problems (for example, strong and dominant states; weak associational opposition to the state, and an overall maldistribution of socio-economic and power resources) that need to be addressed (UN Human Development Report 2005). The UN Arab Human Development Report 2002 summed up the shortfalls



and wide gap between the potential of the Arab people and their achievement in human development (Arab Human Development Report 2002). There is a great deal of unease and resentment over the widening gulf between the affluence and the deprivation of the average Arab. The debate on Islam and democracy must then deal with not only the question of justice and freedom, but also with developing mechanisms necessary to remedy the structural deficits owing to disparities and unequal distribution and access to resources. The real problem is not so much in the Muslim world as such, but in the Middle East. Alfred Stepan and Graeme Robertson (2003) consider the democratic deficit an Arab than a Muslim democracy gap (also see Lakoff 2004). According to this view, the Arab states are basically engaged in building institutional structures around a shared vision of Arab community (Stepan and Robertson 2005). The Arab world is an important part of the world of Islam—its heartland. But it is only one part and in numerical terms a small one. Of the 1.2 billion Muslims in the world, only 260 million live in Arabia. We often tend to equate Islam with Arab culture. And assert that there are no democracies in the Islamic countries of the Arab world, leaving the misleading impression there are no Muslims living under democratic regimes. People often use the terms ‘Islamic’, ‘Middle Eastern’, and ‘Arab’ interchangeably. Both the Arab region and the Arabic language, neither of which possesses any political dominance in the larger Muslim world, are assumed to represent a universal standard. The picture may be more complex however. This complexity is very important in the understanding of Muslim societies of the South. Democracy in the Arab world is the product of different degrees of centralised administration, several thousand years old, which led to pervasive, parasitic and corrupt apparatus (Saadawi 1998: 34–37). Second, there is the existence of feudal and tribal remnants everywhere, but especially in rural areas. The third factor is the growth of Islamic religious and political movements. These movements sometimes support highly autocratic forms of government based on what is called Shari’a. When independent Muslim states were founded in Asia and Africa they came to be ruled by statist regimes (Egypt under Nasser; Iraq and Syria under the Baath Party; Indonesia under Sukarno). As the statist regimes were ideologically radical, they could not reject the idea of universal adult franchise, but ensured that more than 90 per cent of the voters cast their vote for the government candidate.



The monarchies described the right to vote as subversive of Islam and, hence, ensued a phase of stagnation of power in the immediate post-colonial decades (Ahmed 2007). The US allied itself with most such states, which were Islamic, conservative and right wing. The convergence of Western interests and strategically pivotal oil-rich but politically conservative states of the Arab world thus blocked the potential of democracy in this region. To cut a long story short, the problem of democratisation in Muslim societies is not primarily of religion, but of history and political and economic development, and of Western and imperial domination of the region. The Muslim world has not been insulated from the processes of modernisation, class and ethnic differentiation, and mass education that have influenced the growth of modern political processes all over the world. Contrary to the picture of monolithic Islam, political history reveals contradictory experiences ranging from organised Islamist movements to currents of socialist, radical change. From North Africa to the Middle East and Southeast Asia, the Muslim world has been the locale of some of the most powerful secular, progressive and radical movements. Though young military officers led the Revolution in Egypt in 1952, some of the new leaders were communist and the regime combined pan-Arabism and radical socialism supported with enthusiasm by students and the urban educated elite. Indonesia had the largest communist party in the world, outside of the Soviet Union and China. At least half a million communists were massacred after Suharto’s coup in 1965, which had the blessings of the CIA. Sudan had the largest communist party in Africa and their leader Abdel Khaliq Mahjoub was executed after Gaafar Muhammad an-Nimiery’s coup, which again had the approval of the CIA. A CIAsponsored coup replaced the democratic government of Mohammed Mossadeq with the Pehlavi dynasty, mainly because the former nationalised Iran’s oil resources. The Shah’s secret police then destroyed the communists and other progressives, so that the only opposition that remained was that of the mullah led by Ayatollah Khomeini. This strategy continued to work in Afghanistan, as the Northern Alliance and the Taliban were puffed up by Pakistan and the United States. Radical Arab nationalism and socialist opposition could have provided the foundation for the political transformation of society and, hence, their decimation was of great importance in the development of Islamic resurgence and opposition. Even today a number of the prodemocracy currents remain, though non-democratic regimes prevail in



the Middle East. Centuries of European colonial rule followed by decades of authoritarian governments backed by the United States have perpetuated conditions that are not conducive to democratisation. What emerged after the Second World War were fragmented, unstable and volatile polities. The post-colonial period has seen the institution of a chain of authoritarian state systems dominated by oligarchic tendencies. Successive American governments have preferred to deal with these pro-American client regimes that are obviously non-democratic and authoritarian to defeat Arab nationalism. The situation has worsened since the oil boom of the 1970s. The United States seeks to dominate the Middle East in order to control the flow of oil and oil profits, and the leverage it brings in world affairs. The foremost event that shaped many aspects of political life in the Arab world was the crushing defeat of major Arab states by Israel in the Six-day War in 1967. Most rulers have been focused on retaining their power and privilege through military and security apparatus. Above all, the Palestine–Israel conflict has divided the Arab world, and the West’s support to Israel in order to manipulate and control the region’s politics and oil resources has set limits on political autonomy. Given this backdrop, the wilful invasion of Iraq has bred rage and violence across the Muslim world. The clash of civilisations or the good Muslim/bad Muslim thesis stems not from the urge for democratisation, but from the overwhelming need to strategically control the Arab world (Mamdani 2005). American policy makers harbour a strong fear that Islamists could replace pro-American conservative regimes if reform was pushed too fast. Apart from American foreign policy objectives that constrain the democratisation agenda, the elite themselves have often stoked the horror of anti-Western fanatics taking power through the ballot box. In the event, authoritarian regimes and economic and political elite have refused to share power with the opposition. The US-backed governments have preferred to confront Islamic activism through the use of brute force than take the risk of confronting and competing with them in the electoral arena. Thus, many Western governments tolerated or supported the Algerian military’s intervention and their abrogation of the results of the democratic electoral process, the Turkish military’s suppression of the Refah party, or the military rule in Pakistan and the manner in which the Mubarak government crushed the Islamist movement. In these circ*mstances, Islam tends to become the vehicle of angry protest, because religion and the mosque are the only places



people can organise against autocratic leaders and authoritarian regimes. And when those leaders are seen as being propped up by America, America also becomes the target of Muslim rage. At present, the people of the Arab world have turned against rulers unwilling to oppose the policies the US is implementing in the region. Thus, a major factor that complicates the democratisation of the Arab world is the fear that Islamists would come to power if truly democratic systems were to be established. Similarly, in India, one can well imagine the consequences of such an anti-democratic scenario should the secular parties come together to ban the right-wing BJP and prevent it from participating in elections and assuming power when it wins an election. The main reason for the insistence that Islam and democracy are incompatible is, therefore, political and the fear that an Islamised political opposition would dominate the popular vote. In other words, the American urge for democracy in the Muslim world is constrained by the equally strong urge to decide the outcome of the vote beforehand. It also serves as an explanation for the West’s involvement and connivance with non-democratic systems on grounds that the West must respect cultural specificity, and this also justifies the suppression of radical and Islamic movements in the name of democracy even as it covertly extends and encourages them. This spectre of extremism stemmed from a misunderstanding of Arab trends. Moreover, the political realm is also in the process of redefinition, as Muslim minorities become a major presence in democratic societies of Europe, North America and India. These Muslim minorities who live in plural societies are especially important to the development of moderate trends or shifting the ground beneath the feet of fundamentalists and extremists.

IV The Orientalist perspective, according to Edward Said (1978: 317), has created the notion that ‘Islam does not develop, and neither do Muslims; they merely are’, and, furthermore, Islam seems to be about texts rather than people. In a more specific sense, Said also raised the problem of how to study Islam as historical reality, partly a text-based world religion, that is, as a decontextualised global reality, and partly



as a localised, contextualised case of so-called Islamic beliefs and practices, or as ‘practical religion’. Said argues against the attempts to reduce Islam and the lives of Muslims to idealised patterns. This project is an attempt to examine and analyse the process of democratisation in Asian societies. The six country papers look at the growth of democratic politics and the politics of Islam within the context of state–society relations and the civil society/democracy debate. The overarching argument that emerges from these studies is that Islam must be understood within its broader socio-economic and political context, and that Islam is a dynamic force in constant interaction with its environment, influencing the types of social, political and economic organisations and institutions that emerge in these regions. In the process of change, on the one hand, Islam itself had been claimed as a panacea for all the socio-economic and political ills of society; on the other, this role has been challenged on the grounds that Islam is incompatible with modernisation and democracy. The empirical universe of states in all its geo-cultural diversity and economic deprivation hardly lends itself to generalisations of this kind on democratic prospects. It is worth noting that this aspect has not figured meaningfully in assertions about the obstacles to democracy in the Muslim world. Islam is the predominant religion in regions of the world as diverse as North Africa, the Middle East, and Central, South, East and SouthEast Asia. The growth and development of Islam has, thus, been conditioned by a variety of social, economic, cultural and political settings, bringing as much diversity as similarities. These countries share not only ‘Islam’, but also the hard realities of underdevelopment and its negative impact on the conditions for civic culture. The socio-economic and political structure of Muslim societies has much in common with that of other developing countries characterised by strong states relative to weak societies. The pervasiveness of informal politics, charismatic leadership, parochial political interests and the absence of multiplicity of institutions, for instance, are characteristics shared by both Muslim and non-Muslim developing countries. To fully understand the expanded role of Islam in the politics of Muslim societies, it is important to focus on the state and state elite, to look at them as important actors, as many of these studies have done. For the state, the elite in Muslim countries have often played an important role in embedding Islam in politics. The state elite have done so not merely in reaction to pressure from Islamist movements, but to



serve their own socio-political interests. The political elite have often constructed Islam as a threat, but at times also as an opportunity, and in so doing have found added incentives to pursue Islamic politics. As centres of power, states regulate collection and disbursem*nt of resources, control policy-making and deeply affect every facet of their citizens’ lives. Undertaking these functions, in fact, shapes states, which in turn moulds the structures of politics. States are an important determinant of the socio-political change in modern times, so much so that state leaders can and often do operate independently, and even in contravention of underlying socio-economic forces, interest groups and class. Consequently, in order to attempt to understand the impact of Islam on democracy, it must be understood within a wider social context. Is an ideational variable of this type determining its impact on democracy, also frequently conceptualised as ideational, or are there other ideational and socio-economic variables that may have equal or greater weight in affecting outcomes concerning democratic governance? This is the basic assumption that guides these studies. In order to answer it effectively, Islam will have to be juxtaposed with other variables, both of cultural and more material nature (colonial heritage, economic development, institutional structure, etc).

V The Islamic Republic of Iran provides a very complex case for any assessment of democracy and human rights. Iran adheres officially to Islam. It is assumed by Western scholars, therefore, that the regime must be oppressive. However, the historical picture is much more complex. Far from the monolithic, totalitarian police state described by some commentators, Iran’s politics reflects an intensely complex, highly plural, dynamic characteristic of a state in transition that incorporates the contradictions and instabilities inherent in such a process. In the June 1997 elections, Mohammad Khatami became president and undertook reforms aimed at enlarging the democratic space. But the reforms failed to bring about any real change. The younger generation felt that the Islamic system being followed was insular and incapable of being reformed. The constitution under the Islamic regime accorded too much importance to unelected institutions. The example of the Guardian Council would be instructive. This 12-member



Council was responsible for scrutinising bills and verifying whether they were in accordance with the Shari’a. The Council vetoed most progressive bills. It also had the power to decide who could contest elections, and dismissed all those whom it found ‘un-Islamic’ on arbitrary grounds. The head of the judiciary is always a senior Shi’ite clergy, and they do not have a reputation for acting impartially. Under such circ*mstances, student leaders, professionals, intellectuals and liberal-minded clergy joined forces to call for a referendum to decide the future form of government, and for making changes in the constitution. The democratic ideal is deeply embedded in the minds of Iranians. With the exception of Israel, Iran is far ahead in terms of democracy as compared to other countries in the Middle East. The Islamic Republic of Iran has been experimenting with democracy for two decades now, but the present state of political and civil rights in Iran is a far cry from a democratic political system. Electoral laws remain restrictive, excluding ‘non-desirable’ candidates from political offices. Legal and institutional mechanisms for protecting political and civil rights remain absent or underdeveloped. Thus far, seemingly unsuccessful government attempts to marry Islam with its vision of democracy and to build the foundation of an ‘Islamic’ political and economic society have raised doubts about democracy and its future in Iran. If the Islamic Revolution was primarily to establish democracy, then the important question to ask is how successful it is after 25 years. After its initial triumph, disputes and power struggles between different political parties, various Islamic strands and ethnic and tribal groups came to the fore. Tensions with foreign powers and neighbouring countries arose. The hostility to the West led to a radicalisation of policy and the liberal Islamic leaders became marginalised. The eightyears war between Iran and Iraq devastated the country economically. Thereafter, Islamic leaders focused on resuscitating the economy and undertook large-scale economic projects. But the absence of a meaningful democracy in Iran cannot be explained either by the alleged incompatibility between Islam and democracy, or as a byproduct of socio-economic underdevelopment, or as a consequence of an indifferent and repressive state. Indeed, a nascent electoral democracy has taken root in post-revolution Iran. But the future of democratisation will largely be determined by a power struggle over social, economic and political resources both within the state leadership, and between state and society.



Sadegh Zibakalam contends that the struggle for democracy in Iran must be understood within its own historical and cultural context that embodies the powerful role Islam and the Shi’a ulema play in society and politics. The new ruling religious elite in Iran from the beginning, because of its Islamic belief, committed itself to economic populism and widespread mass political participation to strive for social justice within an Islamic framework. It is not difficult, however, to criticise the competence, performance or even the sincerity of many in the political establishment who have, through manipulation of their political and social position, enriched themselves at the expense of the populace. The Islamic Republic of Iran, like other political systems, has not been immune to political corruption, mismanagement of resources and the manipulation of the people’s trust for the sake of elite and regime survival. It would be a mistake to argue that Islam or the ulema as a whole is responsible for all social ills in Iran. There are differences, for example, among the ulema themselves over the place of Islam in politics, with many wishing to save Islam from trappings of power by keeping it away from politics. On the other hand, the Iranian state’s attempt at establishing the ideal ‘Islamic Republic’ has resulted in widespread changes within the Iranian socio-economic and political structure. Iranian society today is politicised and socially more aware and sophisticated about state–society relations. The view presented here is that the changes in Iran have been structural and there are no real prospects for a return to the authoritarian ruling style of the past. By comparison, Turkey is not an Islamic state. Its experience with democracy has been one of considerable progress towards the consolidation of democracy, even in the absence of a diffusion of democratic values among the political elite. The progress towards the consolidation of democracy has been a consequence of the fact that democracy was perceived as an end rather than means. Turkey is often considered a distinctive case by scholars of political Islam because of its long history of secular nationalist ideology and the Turkish campaign against Islamic institutions early in the 20th century. A foundational belief is that Turkey, with its predominantly Muslim population, is, nonetheless, a country that belongs in the West. For the Kemalists, who defined modernity in terms of Westernisation, Islam became the antithesis to progress. As a result, modernisation implied a complete break with the Ottoman, Muslim past. In its place, a Kemalist understanding of Islam emerged, operating within the



constraints of a secular political system. Perhaps more than the secular orientation of the state, what makes Turkey distinct is the experience of a democratic tradition in which the political cleavages between a secular-minded state elite and various forms of Islamic civil society has played out. Although Turkey has a pattern of interrupted democracy thanks to several military coups, credible elections have taken place in every decade since the 1950s. During this period, the number and influence of political parties has changed frequently. Despite its history of competitive elections, a number of factors compromise Turkish democracy, including human rights violations, political corruption and the prohibition of some political parties. Previous Islamic-orientated parties in Turkey were regularly banned from politics, but re-emerged after a period in which they reframed their message in response to their perceived opportunities and constraints. The strategic decisions made by party leaderships after iterated periods of political learning have transformed the dominant Islamicist movement in Turkey into a politically sophisticated, progressive and moderate participant in normal politics. In the process, religious preferences have not been abandoned, but have been reframed to engage the political regime on its own terms. This transformation has occurred over time thanks to the convergence of multiple factors. They include strategic interaction in a political system that rewards political entrepreneurship, the presence of robust institutional constraints on the Islamist movement’s behaviour (judicial, military, civil society), and incentives for the movement to provide costly signals about its intentions, making its moderation self-enforcing. Korel Göymen in his contribution provides an overview of Turkish polity and highlights the Turkish experience in relation to democracy and Islam within a conceptual framework of induced development, bureaucratic ruling tradition, institutional and social dualism, centre– periphery interaction and globalisation, and underscores the point that broadening the political arena by giving Islamic parties an opening may have had a pacifying influence on the polity. It made the polity much more representative since Islamic parties generally have a base amongst the regional and local organisations and networks. The picture that emerges is of mostly religious but fairly tolerant and not in the least fundamentalist country. The point to note is that the Turkish electorate has never voted for a political party just because it is a religiously-oriented party, and argues that in the Turkish case, Islam was allowed to play a role in politics only after the consolidation of



democracy, that is, after a consensus across the political spectrum that there is no political regime better than democracy. The Turkish political system has several shortcomings due to constitutional limitations, patronage systems and corruption. Another shortcoming is institutionalised censorship. Financial policies sometimes fail, and these failures in turn get exacerbated due to inefficient tax collection and corruption. The rise of the middle class has not been without its ups and downs. The development of civil society is hampered due to lack of interpersonal and inter-institutional trust. Clientele networks and nepotism hinder the smooth operation of democratic procedures, norms, rules and institutions. Yet another problem is that the urban middle class, perceiving a threat to their values, has begun to jettison democracy to protect and promote their lifestyles. The role of the military is another problem. The military has become stronger in politics, with broad public support. Finally, as patronage flourished, budgets went awry and so did macroeconomic management. This further undermined the practice of good governance. Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country (followed by India and Pakistan, which are in second and third place), and among the world’s newest and most fragile democracies. Muslims constitute 88 per cent of its total population. Muslims and Islam play a less prominent role in the country’s public life, politics and economy than their numbers alone would lead one to expect. In neighbouring Malaysia, which has only just over 50 per cent Muslims, Islam is the official religion of the state, yet it does not enjoy the same status in Indonesia, which gives equal recognition to Islam and four minority religions (Christianity in its Catholic and Protestant variants; Hinduism and Buddhism). Instead of a state religion, there is a state ideology, Pancasila. Strictly speaking, Pancasila is not a secular ideology; the first of its five principles consists of the belief in One God, and the other principles reflect values that are quite important to Islam as well as other religions. The state, then, claims to be based on religious and moral values that are not alien to Islam but not specifically Islamic either. Many Muslims perceive in this official generalised and Shari’aless religiosity a reflection of syncretic Javanese mysticism. Pancasila philosophy, in its present formulation, attributes equal validity to all five officially recognised religions and enjoins religious tolerance. The emphasis on tolerance has good grounds. Because of the great ethnic and religious variety of Indonesia’s population, and the unequal



distribution of resources and assets among the various groups, the potential for serious conflicts is always there. After more than seven years since the fall of the New Order regime in mid-1998, Indonesia is in the process of transition from authoritarianism to democracy. The moderate Muslim elite consistently resisted attempts to give Islam a significant place in state politics. At the same time, however, Indonesia has come to be seen as a ‘terrorist hotbed’ in Asia, with several terrorist organisations flourishing and terror acts being carried out from its soil. Sukarno and Suharto’s regimes were dictatorial. Even as there was no space for democratic ideas, there was no space for fundamentalist Islamic factions either. With the change of regime and fledgling steps being taken towards democracy, the space for religion-based politics has also opened up. Religious harmony, a hallmark of Indonesian society till the 1980s, is receding, and communal violence and ethnic conflicts have erupted in various parts. At the same time, the deep-rooted corruption from the time of the dictatorial regime continues. Nevertheless, in Indonesian history, Islamic groups have often played an important political role. Most of these groups are moderate, tolerant and democratic. In the past few years, however, radical and extreme groups of Muslims have emerged, and to some degree have set the agenda in the country with their extreme political interpretation of Islam. Adriana Elisabeth focuses on the Indonesian experience in practising democracy. She underlines that the depth of political and economic crises, and the weakness of the national government to resolve them, have complicated the positive movement toward democracy in Indonesia. When Suharto’s guided democracy failed, Sukarno sought to invoke the principles of Pancasila, which embraces humanitarian principles. However, it was manipulated to crush any opposition. Dissenters were labelled communists and feelings of insecurity grew. It was, therefore, the New Order regime that sowed the seeds of subsequent conflict. Since the end of the regime in 1998, only one general election has been held in the country. At the same time, political violence continues, and human rights are being violated. These are attributed to the status-quoist anti-democracy groups, which are facing corruption trials, and to Suharto’s cronies. Though use of state apparatus such as police and military is not the solution for ending this violence, the military values from previous times remain deeply embedded in governing structures.



While Indonesian Muslims have traditionally maintained tolerance and harmony, the current government has failed to enforce various freedoms, including religious freedom. Massive corruption and socioeconomic exploitation further hamper the growth of democracy. In such a scenario, military and hardline Islamic groups are collaborating to orchestrate domestic instability in order to wrest power. In a democratic country, the state has to protect its minorities. But discrimination and intolerance by the state is becoming rampant. Also, imposition of Shari’a law discriminates against Muslim women. So, the challenges before Indonesian democracy are protection of minorities, dealing with communal and political conflicts, and tackling terrorism. It will be difficult to consolidate democracy if there are too many different interpretations of Islam. Indonesia has a long way to go before it can become democratic. While moderate Muslims reject the idea of an Islamic state, it must become their responsibility to harmonise Islam and democracy. State apparatuses like the police and army have to come under civilian control rather than vice versa. Education and inter-faith dialogue must be seriously promoted. Economic inequality has to be tackled. Since independence in 1963, Malaysia has had the most stable and continuous democracy of any Southeast Asian state. The most ethnically plural country of this part of Asia, Muslims and indigenous people comprise 58 per cent of the population; Chinese 24 per cent; Indian 8 per cent; and others 10 per cent. Tracing its pluralistic legacy back to the pre-19th century ‘age of commerce’, Malaysian ports such as Melaka emerged as Southeast Asia’s most important trading entrepots. Chinese, Arab, Indian and Southeast Asian merchants flocked to Malaysia, attracted by its impressive port facilities, fair legal system and heavily trafficked waterways. Under British control, predominantly Muslim Malaysia saw an increasing number of nonMuslim Indian and Chinese people imported to work its tin mines and rubber plantations. Violence racked the history of the British colonial state and these ethnically plural communities at times prior to the Second World War and after. However, today Malaysia is widely accepted as a country that has been remarkably—perhaps uniquely—successful in managing and containing ethnic conflict in a post-colonial context against all expectations. Much of Malaysia’s success has been due to its ethnic redistributive policies, which have gone a long way towards redressing the gross economic inequalities left by the colonial period whilst



being accompanied by high growth rates for a sustained period of many decades. The Malaysian political system has been variously characterised as ‘quasi-democratic’, ‘semi-democratic’ and ‘competitive authoritarian’, to give but a few examples. Malaysia has long been viewed as a ‘moderate’ Islamic polity. Muslims and non-Muslims have enjoyed the same civil and political rights, and Islamic parties have competed alongside secular ones in periodic elections despite the distinctly Islamic timbre of Malaysia’s state and society. Growing domestic political volatility, however, has led many to question the viability of political moderation. The central argument of the chapter by Abdul Rehman Embong is that the Islamisation of Malay politics needs to be appreciated in relation to shifting socio-political ideas and boundaries that define the political process in Malaysia. To do this, his chapter studies the relationship between political Islam and the contexts and perspectives that necessarily define its parameters and role in the popular politics of Malaysia. There is an urgent need to locate our understanding of the politicisation of Islam in Malaysia in the wider context by relating it to the underlying socio-political tectonics that define the parameters of the socio-political environment in which this process takes place. All Malaysian prime ministers so far have been committed to parliamentary democracy, power sharing, and a liberal religious and cultural outlook. Mahathir Mohamad was in power for 22 years and was responsible for Malaysia’s industrialisation and modernisation. The current prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, has a more consultative leadership style and lays emphasis on human development, national integrity and fighting corruption. All leaders paid attention to Islam and the plight of Muslims while maintaining a tolerant religious outlook. Their efforts, along with those of civil society, have ensured that Malaysia is viewed as a moderate and progressive model of an Islamic country. Malaysia holds regular elections, which mostly run smoothly, with minor glitches. One particular election in 1969 was marred by violence. It was handled by imposing emergency rule. However, other conflict resolution mechanisms are at work today. One, the Rukunegara or the ‘national ideology’ committed to national unity, democracy, justice, and a scientific and liberal society is inculcated in schoolchildren. Two, the strategy of controlled ‘politicking’ is used in ways such as preventing discussion about sensitive issues or religion in public, forming councils as a formal platform for airing views of stakeholders, and for debate and discussion. Three,



an affirmative action policy and strategy of ‘state-in-development’ have been put in place. The international movement in support of human rights and civil liberties made its impact within the country, giving further boost to struggles for greater democratic space. The police brutalities heaped on Anwar Ibrahim, Mahathir’s deputy, sharply divided the country. Several changes were made and the Malaysian Commission on Human Rights was set up in 2000. A committee was set up to look into the role of the police and give suggestions to improve its functioning. A National Integrity Plan was launched in 2004 for smooth governance, rooting out corruption, and improving the quality of life of people. Whilst Malaysia has practised formal democracy and there has been an expansion of democratic space, several scholars are of the view that it is not truly democratic. It is positioned somewhere between democracy and authoritarianism. However, while this is partly true, the use of Western democratic institutions has been conditioned by historical context as well as internal social and political dynamics. The social contract is in place, and Islamic revivalism in Malaysia will contribute not only towards developing better Muslims, but also towards enlarging the democratic order of the country. Whatever one’s stance—the one advocated by United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) or by Party Islam SeMalaysia (PAS)—it will ensure that tendencies towards militancy and terrorism among Muslims can be checked and combated. Leaders and members of civil society organisations need to be more organised in their struggles, and continue to maintain independence and integrity in dealing with the state, market and other forces. East Asian democracies differ from the romanticised democratic ideal. Most have evolved through hard or soft developmental authoritarianism to some form of democracy, in the sense of having elections, universal suffrage and political parties. The established political structures—shored up by traditional values—have not proved adequate for an expression of grievances and aspirations that have resulted from transitional social tensions. This has contributed to civic activism and changing expectations of authority and leadership. Ever since its traumatic birth as a nation-state following the partition of India in 1947, Pakistan has struggled unsuccessfully to build a functioning democracy. Its civilian leaders have proven consistently corrupt, autocratic and inept. Its public institutions have failed to mature, its civic life has remained largely confined to a tiny elite, and



its internal tensions between Islamic and secular values have never been resolved. The army, traditionally viewed as the most solid and powerful institution in the country, has felt the need to seize power four times—in 1958, 1969, 1977 and 1999. Altogether, Pakistan has been under some form of martial law for one-third of its nearly 60 years as an independent state, and no elected prime minister has remained in office long enough to hand over power to an elected successor. Pakistan has experienced periods of procedural democracy in which national elections were held (1971, 1977, 1988, 1999 and 2002). Yet, democratic consolidation has remained elusive. Each of the post-1988 civilian governments was removed from office, and caretaker administrations installed pending fresh elections, at the behest of senior figures in the military. Pakistan’s military dominance can be traced back to the early years of its statehood. The partition of British India’s assets in 1947 left Pakistan with one-third of the British Indian army and only 17 per cent of its revenues. Thus, the military started out as the dominant institution in the new state, and this dominance has continued over the years. Even during periods of civilian government, the generals have exercised political influence through the intelligence apparatus. Partly due to the role of the military and partly because of their own weakness, Pakistan’s political factions have often found it difficult to cooperate with one another or to submit to the rule of law. Each time the army has eventually stepped in on the grounds that civilian leaders and institutions were too corrupt and self-serving to be trusted with governing, that the country was in the danger of collapsing into chaos, and that only military discipline and honour could salvage the situation. As a result, Pakistan is far from developing a consistent system form of government, with persisting political polarisation along three major intersecting fault lines: between civilians and the military, among different ethnic and provincial groups, and between Islamists and secularists. Formal procedures for elections existed in Pakistan, such as adult franchise, but these elections have taken place for a non-sovereign parliament simply to provide moral legitimacy to the forces led by the army. There was no substantive transfer of power to the public. While elections do not influence policy, they bring forth issues. Ethnic parties like the MQM and Islamic parties relied heavily on identity and ideology for electoral mobilisation. In the 2002 elections, Musharraf got himself ‘elected’ in a manner that was quite controversial. Public cynicism was widespread, leading to voter apathy. By 2002, Islamic



forces had come to the fore and were posing a serious challenge to the state by taking away the initiative for defining state ideology. They gained electoral victory, and with that legal muscle, executive power and constitutional legitimacy in pursuit of its objective of establishing the rule of Shari’a. Today, the commitment of the people to representation is deeply interwoven with ethnic and religious causes. The demand for electoral reform has moved to the centre of public debate prior to each election, and some steps have been taken in this regard. The level of performance of elected governments has remained far from satisfactory in terms of formulation and implementation of policy. Top decision-making authority remains in the hands of the president. Military presence in civilian activities is becoming overwhelming. Substantive input from elected governments into economic policy has been the exception rather than the rule. While Benazir Bhutto carried out a nationalisation policy, Nawaz Sharif pursued liberalisation. One paradox has been that military governments have represented periods of economic growth, while elected governments have lagged behind in this respect. Apart from economic deficit, the democratic potential of the state of Pakistan has suffered due to a lingering human rights deficit. The pressure for democratisation in Pakistan came primarily from America. At the same time, Western scholarship ominously contributed to new interpretations of Islam as a civilisation not yet ready to embrace modernity. Due to the Arab–Israel conflict, the solidarity within the Arab world led to a relatively high tolerance of nondemocratic regimes. The lack of tolerance was ascribed to be an attribute of Islam. While Christianity influenced the Western view of democracy, it denied the democratic impulse to other civilisations. The result was an essentialisation of Islam and the reification of Islam as a political ideology. What is ignored is that the non-Western world, including the Muslim world, has undergone immense Westernisation and cultures have become enmeshed. The study of democracy in Muslim societies, including Pakistan, suffers from decontextualisation. Democracy in Pakistan is conceived as an absence of Islamic resurgence rather than the role of public representatives as decision-makers. So, why has democracy not been consolidated in Pakistan? Mohammed Waseem attempts to answer this by highlighting those democratic norms and institutions that have failed to compete with the more powerful traditional forces that are highly resistant to change. These include a deeply entrenched system of feudal land control in



the countryside; a large and privileged military establishment; a pernicious nexus between official power and private gain; a recent burgeoning tide of Islamic fundamentalism that has gained wide popularity among the disaffected poor; and a fragile civil society. Pakistan’s status as an Islamic ideological state is rooted deeply in history and is linked closely both with the praetorian ambitions of the Pakistani military and the Pakistani elite’s world-view. For the foreseeable future, Islam will remain a significant factor in Pakistan’s politics. Bangladesh has long been heralded as a moderate Muslim country that has encompassed diversity in the belief and practice of Islam. The political spectrum of Bangladesh has been oscillating between referendums to presidential and parliamentary elections. The country has experienced varied electoral processes and governments. Bangladesh came into existence in 1971 amidst high democratic expectations, which were soon belied with the country experiencing a spate of political assassinations, coups, attempted coups and military dictatorships. Democracy in Bangladesh could not consolidate itself due to the political ambitions of the ruling elite, internecine conflicts, politicisation of the military, and external influences. The restoration of democracy in 1991 was a milestone in Bangladesh’s political history. It ended years of authoritarian rule and provided an excellent opportunity for the people and politicians to mend existing structural and functional constraints in the political system and make the changes necessary to usher in democratic governance. The initial performance of the new political system was satisfactory in spite of the lack of experience of working within a parliamentary framework and the unfamiliar grounds the ruling party had to tread to accommodate the democratic demands of the opposition. Nevertheless, the tactics routinely adopted by past regimes to eclipse elected oppositions were not wholly abandoned. Both the government and the opposition assumed confrontational postures and hindered the process of constitutional consolidation. Two heritage parties, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the Awami League, dominate Bangladesh’s political system. Both are bitter rivals and are obsessed with undercutting one another. Unlike India or other robust democracies, the opposition in Bangladesh has very little role to play in governance. This fact compels opposition parties to engage in practices that are inconsistent with democratic principles, such as calling economically debilitating national strikes, violent street politics,



and any other means to destabilise the government. In the argument over petty procedural matters, the principal purpose of utilising Parliament for rational discourse on governance issues is entirely lost. This culture of zero-sum politics has resulted in a Parliament that operates fitfully at best and has encouraged dangerous alliances with Islamist parties. More disturbing is the fact that both parties have made ‘Faustian bargains’ with Islamist political parties to win a majority of seats in the parliament.2 This is also true for the Awami League, despite its historical legacy of being a secularly inclined party. As a consequence of these dalliances, Islamist parties have grown in influence and prestige, and have emerged as kingmakers in Bangladeshi elections. Covering a period up to the end of 2006, Ameena Mohsin and Meghna Guhathakurta give a wide-ranging overview of the political trajectory in Bangladesh, and argue that hostility between the ruling coalition and the main opposition party, a spiralling trend of violence, the government’s utter disregard for the rule of law, the diminishing importance of Parliament, the opposition’s predilection for street agitation, and growing religious militancy have all delivered serious blows to democracy. However, they are sanguine because the noninterference of the military despite the persistent worsening of general law and order is indicative of the growing maturity of the military and civil society. There are several possible trajectories for Bangladesh politics in the future. The first one is a picture of doom, marked by increasing violence, criminalisation and collapse of human security. This will be accompanied by shrinking spaces for dissent. Such a scenario has created a siege mentality and a culture of intolerance. While formal democracy exists, there is no substantive democracy. The second scenario is the confluence of opposite forces, of exclusivist and accommodative paths. The Awami League and left-leaning parties have formed an alliance to oust fundamentalist forces. Institutional politics and civil society involvement could become stronger, and the role of the military could well diminish. Democracy faces a crisis in Bangladesh not because it is a Muslim society, but because it is an underdeveloped nation. Islamisation of politics is a disturbing feature, but the system of democracy is complicit in this. The recent threat of Islamic terrorism is a result of combined external forces and internal weakness in dealing with such threats. At the micro level, democratic practices are gaining ground, but at the macro level, progress is very slow indeed.



VI There are some significant trends that emerge from an appraisal of the country reports. Each country is anxious to demarcate its identity as being distinct from the Arab world, placing itself within an Asian identity. National Muslim identity supersedes a transnational Muslim identity. Most of the countries share a colonial past, under one European country or another. Second, the nation-building project of Muslim and non-Muslim states alike has put emphasis on national unity. Third, many of these states, which are involved in conflicts with neighbouring states, have tended to place considerable stress on national security. Fourth, the persistence of ethnic conflict in Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan and Malaysia has led the political elite to concentrate power in the hands of a centralised state structure. While this complex experience defines them in several different ways, it also places them under various structural constraints. They have also inherited uneven economic development with gross disparities of wealth among different social strata. The social structure is itself in many cases a colonial legacy, which has sharpened the cleavages among distinct groups in society along lines of ethnicity, race and religion. Turkey is the exception, having never experienced colonisation. Post-independence, all of these countries formally adopted Westernstyle democratic institutions, with all the attendant paraphernalia of elections, constitution, parliament and various freedoms. All countries except Turkey officially adopted Islam as the state religion. Religious institutions and Shari’a operate alongside civil law adopted from the West, not as the central but as an alternative co-opted body of law, with the aim of retaining Islamic values in society. Significantly, all countries have experienced military/authoritarian rule at some point of time or the other. These leaders have ranged from monarchs to military generals or heads of state who have come in through elections. At the same time, each country has seen attempts at the revival of civilian participatory democracy, and some have been successful in establishing a political system that functions through elections. State repression is common and the government does not hesitate to call in the military or the police against its own citizens. Democracy has surfaced in countries where it emerged after the military formally withdrew from politics, but remained a powerful player de facto (Nasr 2005). The military’s interference in politics led



to more elections, political realignments and shifts in coalitions, accelerating and intensifying experimentation with new political formulas. Interestingly, the net effect of all this was the same in both Turkey, where the military strongly defended secularism, and Pakistan, where the military worked with Islamists. Turkey’s Islamists learnt to adopt pragmatic policies to avoid the generals’ wrath, while Pakistan’s rightof-centre Pakistan Muslim League (PML) saw democracy as the means to strengthen a frail system of elected civilian rule and the party’s own standing within it. The Malaysian case aside, it seems clear that democracy is more likely to emerge when Islamist and democratic forces sense a common interest in protecting the democratic process from the military (ibid.). In Pakistan and Bangladesh, as also in Turkey and Indonesia, the military plays a significant role in politics. Military officials occupy various political positions and have immense control over society. Paradoxically, the left-wing movements have remained active and civil society has also gathered strength, creating spaces for dissent. Fairly strong middle classes have emerged in these countries. The polity of these countries is marred by violence and conflict due to friction between various social groups. However, conflict between majority and minority religious groups is rare. On the other hand, ethnic riots, revolt against the state, and conflict between various factions within Islam are very common. The use of religion for instrumental purposes, particularly to consolidate rule, to gather a significant number of votes, or to divert attention from real issues of development is also a shared feature. They contain all the characteristics of developing countries and nascent democracies in any other part of the world, replete with challenges and obstacles. Several other distinct and interesting features also emerge from the country reports, following which it would be difficult to club Muslim societies into a single Asian bloc. Each country has followed a different historical and developmental trajectory in spite of having many common features. Turkey, Iran and Malaysia experienced rigorous modernisation programmes. In Turkey and Iran, Western-style secularism became the norm much before these societies embarked upon modernisation. However, the political systems responded differently to these developments. Turkey became a republic in 1923, but remained strictly secular. Anything remotely related to Islam was banned. This brand of secularism has remained rooted in Turkish society, though the ban on practising religion in public is no longer as stringent as



earlier. A secular authoritarian monarch ruled Iran. The Islamic Revolution of 1979 was, therefore, both against authority and in favour of democracy, as much as it intended to incorporate Islamic principles in society. While Turkey is pro-West and wishes to join the European Union, Iran is highly anti-West, albeit anti-imperialist, due to its colonial past, and so the dichotomy between Islam and the West tends to be played out more sharply in this case. The programme of modernisation in Malaysia after independence was far more effective and successful, one might say. It combines Islamic values with Western ideals and institutions. Although Mahathir Mohamad’s rule was autarkic, he was also responsible for taking Malaysia on the path of economic progress on its own terms, without giving in to International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies. The human rights record of Malaysia is reasonably satisfactory, and it is a powerful member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The Christian, Hindu and Buddhist minorities enjoy equal rights. Affirmative action policies have been implemented to take care of the livelihood of the rural Muslim masses. Owing to its relatively harmonious culture, this has had the effect of upliftment of the downtrodden and at the same time promoted a culture of tolerance. Malaysia’s neighbour Indonesia has not fared so well. Since its independence, it has tried to grapple with the pressures of globalisation and modernisation. The democratic project has been a failure, but this cannot be attributed to Islam. Indonesia is a flashpoint in Southeast Asia since friction between social groups have erupted and taken the form of ethnic violence. Regional disparities are gross, and the police are frequently used for state repression. In such a scenario, right-wing Islamic groups have gained ground and the country has been termed a ‘hotbed of terrorism’. Two other countries where terrorism is a marked feature are Pakistan and Bangladesh, both of which were intended to be secular polities. In Pakistan, the democratic institutions are formal, and military rule has been the norm. Democracy could not take root in Pakistan. As a result of the efforts of the civil society, local government elections are held, but their credibility is suspect as they are more a tactic to divert the population from the real issues. It is due to the overwhelmingly military nature of the state and its nexus with the Islamic right wing that Pakistan remains undemocratic. This form of government does not have public support except from the elite whose interests it protects. Another factor that has influenced Pakistan has been its alliance with



the United States, which requires a stronghold in Asia. No democratic government would possibly allow such interference, so it serves the American interest to support the undemocratic regime, a trend similar to its support of undemocratic regimes in the Arab world due to its interests in oil. Bangladesh inherited the same colonial heritage as India and Pakistan, and also inherited the military ethos of Pakistan before it broke away in 1971. After several authoritarian governments, elections have been held in the past decade. But the governments that came to power were more interested in consolidating their rule than governing the country. For this purpose, while the BNP used a conservative interpretation of Islam, the Awami League, too, tied up with the Jamaat to defeat the opposition. The economic and human rights record of Bangladesh is abysmal. A contributing factor to the rise of the right wing has been the shift in rhetoric from an inclusive Bangladeshi nationalism to an exclusivist one. This picture lends itself to a differentiated analysis of the measure of democracy in each of these countries. It would be a mistake to club them together as a monolithic Muslim bloc, as much as it would be inaccurate to hold religion responsible for the problems of democracy. These trends suggest that the political centre of gravity belongs neither to secularist or leftist parties, nor to the Islamists, as we commonly assume (Eikelman and Piscatori 1997). Political trends are more likely to work in favour of forces and organisations that integrate Muslim values and moderate Islamic politics into broad-based platforms that go beyond exclusively religious concerns. Such forces can appeal to a broad cross-section and wider coalitions of voters, creating a stable nexus between religious and secular forces of electoral politics. In this process, competitive elections have both pushed religious parties toward pragmatism, and pulled other parties into making greater efforts to represent Muslim values. The net result is a shift towards moderation. As in most democracies, the key to success and democratic consolidation lies in winning and expanding the middle ground around which position majorities can cluster.

VII Juan J. Linz and Alfred Stepan offer a definitional standard of democratic transition:



A democratic transition is complete when sufficient agreement has been reached about political procedures to produce an elected government, when a government comes to power that is the direct result of a free and popular vote, when this government de facto has the authority to generate new policies, and when the executive, legislative and judicial power generated by the new democracy does not have to share power with other bodies de jure (Linz and Stepan 1996: 3).

With this working definition, it should be clear that while the Asian experience suggests a transition to less arbitrary, exclusive and authoritarian rule, it would clearly fall short of a transition to democracy— equal citizenship rights, regular, competitive, free and fair elections, and so on. Competitive elections are not uncommon, but they are not the principal institutional means or vehicle for establishing a government of the people. How does Islam relate to constitutional democracy? We suppose the obvious answer is ‘not necessarily’. Part of the problem is the excessive spotlight on the present moment, an eternalising of the present; hence, the pessimism about the future of democracy in the Muslim world. The fact is that there is a remarkable historical differentiation and diversity within Muslim societies, as the chapters in this volume show, and diversity in Islam itself and across nations with majority Islamic populations. The constitutional and political situation in Indonesia or Malaysia is very different from that in the Islamic nations of the Maghreb or sub-Saharan Africa. Islamic Central Asia is equally diverse, and South Asia is a particularly contested part of the Muslim world. The Arab world is rather different again, and Iran and Turkey are a case unto themselves. There is also significant diversity within Muslim nations. Islam has become, in effect, multi-hierarchical, with numerous religious authorities commanding the allegiances of portions of the population. Comparison of political processes in Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia, therefore, question the conventional view that the socio-political ethos of Muslim societies is opposed and insensitive to democracy. The experience of these six countries reveals a variety of political processes, political systems, and political transitions. Contrary to popular assumptions, none of them is unchanging or static. Whilst there have been many ups and downs in their political trajectories, there is no evidence of any fundamental incompatibility between Islam and democracy. More noteworthy is



the fact that Islamic norms of governance do not figure prominently in the organisation of government. Indeed, the most striking feature is the varied forms of politics and political systems. Reminiscent of the experience of most of the developing world, these six countries have not been successful in the consolidation of democracy; but when we compare their experience with other developing countries, then it is clear that the democratic deficit is not unique to the Muslim world. This can be looked at in different ways. It stems from many causes: in the constitutionally-defined political system, the broader political culture of the political elite, the weakness of democratic values among the elite and public, and so on. One other thing is clear from these six country studies: that the explanation for this deficit cannot come from cultural frameworks that have been the norm in understanding democratic politics in the Muslim world. Cultural essentialism assumes that every society has a tangible essence that defines it, and it then explains politics as a consequence of that essence. This framework turns religion into a political category and downplays the political encounter between imperialism and the Muslim world, for instance. A historically grounded, structural approach, on the other hand, would take into account state–society relations, the state system, political agency, pattern of political authority as it exists on the ground, and, finally, the domestic and international context of the relationship between Islam and democracy. Political patronage has been the key to turning religious identities into political identities. Both in Bangladesh and Turkey, the religious right is the outcome of democratic processes, but once this happens popular participation and democracy are invariably stopped in their tracks by authoritarian regimes and rulers in the name of fighting fundamentalism. Contextualising political transition helps in understanding the challenges of democratic consolidation that confront these societies. The specific histories of transition from colonialism to political rule, imperialism, political economy and Islam collectively help elucidate the institutional deficits. Even though all of these countries fall short of established yardsticks and institutional forms of democracy, there is no dearth of vibrant politics, popular protest, political mobilisation and opposition. At the same time, we should not run away from the fact of tension between Islam and democracy in the politics of Muslim countries. Different countries have negotiated this tension in their own ways. We see plenty of countervailing trends in the form of



Islamic fundamentalism, political Islam and religious politics that arraign against democracy. For sure, the conservative notions of Shari’a exclude meaningful space for democracy, but on balance, the political discourse is a mix of modernism and conservatism. Muslim societies in the recent past have been extremely hospitable to radical ideas, including communism. In fact, Indonesia had the second largest communist party after China. To conclude, our discussion of the Asian experience helps highlight four important issues. First, shifting the focus from Arab to Asian countries highlights the positive potential for democracy and democratic transition in the Muslim world. Major changes have taken place in these countries; most have put in place the accoutrements of institutional democracy. Second, as there is no one type of political system, there is no single model of democracy. The political transformation in Asian societies would suggest that any attempt to reduce it to a single formula could lead to mystification. Dale Eikelman and James Piscatori (1997: 163) argue that Muslim politics ‘while aspiring to umma-wide universals, derives its force from specific contexts, times and locales in which it takes place’. Essentialising of political traditions to force-fit an archetype Islamic model deflects attention from the major variations that we can see in the historical experience of Iran, Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and the vigorous political debate, protest and movements within them. Three, the comparative analysis of political processes shows that there is no fundamental incompatibility between Islam and democracy in the Asian Muslim world, and no systematic effort has been made to build an enduring Islamic political system to the exclusion of other alternatives. Finally, Muslims are engaged in vigorous debate on the political system, and even though some people are disillusioned, they do not reject the democratic framework. We can see agency in the sense that Anthony Giddens (1979: 54) and many other political and social theorists have used the term to describe the individual or group’s capability to intervene in a series of events so as to influence their course. Even though competitive elections have not been the norm, politics have pervaded professional associations, labour unions, women’s organisations and tribal associations (Eikelman and Piscatori 2001). Through these associations and organisations people have expressed themselves from time to time to challenge the state, and at other times to avoid a direct challenge.





The attitude towards ijtihad is one important issue that divides state-centred society from progressive and reactionary Islamists. Whereas society-centred Islamists insist that the practice of ijtihad be central to modern Islamic society, state-centred Islamists are determined to close the gates of ijtihad. The current BNP government has two such parties in its coalition, the Jamaat Islami (JI) and Islamia Oikya Jote (IOJ).

REFERENCES Ahmed, Ishtiaq. ‘The Democratic Deficit in the Muslim world’. http://www.dailytimes. Arab Human Development Report 2002. New York: UNDP. Devji, Faisal. 2005. Landscapes of the Jihad. New Delhi: Foundation Books. Ehteshami, Anoushiravan. 2004. ‘ Islam, Muslim Polities and Democracy’. Democratization, 11(4): 93. Eikelman, Dale and James Piscatori. 1997. Muslim Politics. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Esposito, John. 1984. Islam and Politics. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. Filali-Ansary, Abdou. 1999. ‘Muslims and Democracy’. Journal of Democracy, 10(3): 19. f*ckuyama, Francis. 1993. ‘The Primacy of Culture’, in L. Diamond and M.F. Plattner (eds.), The Global Resurgence of Democracy, pp. 320–27. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press. Gellner, Ernest. 1983. Muslim Society. Cambridge University Press. Giddens, Anthony. 1979. Central Problems in Social Theory: Action, Structure, and Contradiction in Social Analysis. London: Macmillan. Human Development Report 2005. New York: UNDP. Huntington, Samuel P. 1993. ‘Democracy’s Third Wave’, in L. Diamond and M.F. Plattner (eds.), The Global Resurgence of Democracy, pp. 3–25. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press. Lakoff, Sanford. 2004. ‘The Reality of Muslim Exceptionalism’. Journal of Democracy, 15(4): 133–39 Linz, Juan and Alfred Stepan. 1996. Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America and Post-Communist Europe. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press. Maddex, Robert L. 1996. Constitutions of the World. London: Routledge. Madjid, Nurcholish. 1994. ‘Islamic Roots of Modern Pluralism: Indonesian Experiences’. Studia Islamica: Indonesian Journal of Islamic Studies, 1(1). Mamdani, Mahmood. 2005. Good Muslim, Bad Muslim. Delhi: Permanent Black. Nasr, Vali. 1995. ‘Democracy and Islamic Revivalism’. Political Science Quarterly, 110: 275. —————. 2005. ‘The Rise of “Muslim Democracy”’. The Journal of Democracy, 16(2): 13–27.



Norton, Augustus. 1993. ‘The Future of Civil Society in the Middle East’. Middle East Journal, 47(2). Roy, Olivier. 2004. Globalised Islam: The Search for a New Umma. London: Hurst Publishers. Saadawi, Nawal El. 1977. The Newal El Saadawi Reader. London: Zed Books. Said, Edward. 1978. Orientalism. London: Routledge and Kegan. Salame, Ghasam (ed.). 1994. Democracy without Democrats? The Renewal of Politics in the Muslim World. New York: I.B. Tauris. Stepan, Alfred. 2000. ‘Religion, Democracy, and The “Twin Tolerations”’. Journal of Democracy, 11(4): 48. Stepan, Alfred and Graeme Robertson. 2003. ‘An Arab More Than Muslim Electoral Gap’. Journal of Democracy, 14(3): 30–44. —————. 2005. ‘Arab, Not Muslim Exceptionalism’. Journal of Democracy, 15(4): 140– 46. Zakaria, Fareed. 2003. Illiberal Democracy at Home & Abroad: The Future of Freedom. New Delhi: Viking.


This chapter seeks to understand the polity of Bangladesh from the perspective of the political, ideological and economic underpinnings of democracy, and democratic practices. Thus, it treats Bangladesh not only as a society dominated by a Muslim majority population, but also as a developing economy where democratic practices and institutions are evolving in an ever-increasing globalised world. The struggle for democracy in such a society is, therefore, a complex one. Bangladesh, born out of a nine-month bloody liberation war, had the daunting task of incorporating many of the secular and democratic ideals upheld in its first constitution into viable institutions and practices. The major obstacles were the military, an underdeveloped economy and donor dependence, vulnerability to the winds of globalisation and Islamisation, and ineffective political leadership. In this chapter, we first outline the nature of the Bangladeshi state from the aforementioned perspective. We then outline the challenges and problems facing the democratic process as reflected in the process



of polarisation, the militarisation and criminalisation of the polity, politicisation of the military, the forces of globalisation, trends in migration and political settlements, the growing non-governmental sector, and, finally, the spectre of terrorism and the relevance of Bangladesh’s location.

THE NATURE OF THE BANGLADESHI STATE Bangladesh, with a population of 135 million and a per capita GNP of only US$ 350, is one of the least developed countries in the world. Eighty per cent of the population lives in rural areas. In the post-independence (1971) period, the reconstructing and rebuilding of a war-devastated nation was topmost priority. Participatory democracy was made subordinate to that goal, and democracy remained mainly the ‘right to vote’. Since the participatory principles were not embedded within state apparatus, they took the form of mass movements, street action, and large and strong non-governmental organisations that either opposed or collaborated with the government, and fulfilled watchdog functions next to service delivery. Social movements facilitated the participation of those sections of the population who felt excluded from the formal system. Since its independence, Bangladesh, with a majority population of Muslims, has been undergoing an Islamisation process. This is in contrast to the socialistic and secular ideals envisaged in the first constitution and has led to the fear of Islamic resurgence and revivalism in the state, having originally claimed itself to be a secular democratic republic. In the aftermath of independence, some scholars thought that Bangladesh had a ruling class but that it was not hegemonic. The reason behind this proposition was that the power base of the Awami League, which had won an absolute majority in Parliament, rested predominantly on the petit bourgeois and the rural rich. This class did not have influence over the military–bureaucracy oligarchy that had traditionally controlled the ‘over-developed’ Pakistan state. Rapid private accumulation during this regime, therefore, took the form of plundering and extortion of nationalised state resources in the public sector. During this phase, two methods were used to appropriate surplus: one by directly selling distribution licences gained through



political connections; and, second, through siphoning off marginal differences between ex-factory and market clearing prices. It may be mentioned that although industries were nationalised, the distribution of products remained in the hands of the private sector. A group of businessmen with close links with the regime obtained distribution licences and then sold them to private distributors. In this way, the class that received state patronage procured jobs in the nationalised industries, grew rich by smuggling, appropriating abandoned property, and selling off government permits and licences to the highest bidders. The military coup d’état, that toppled the Awami League government in 1975, represented to a large extent a section of the military– bureaucracy oligarchy that had inherited notions of a divine right to rule from the Pakistan era. In Bangladesh, they felt their power threatened by the attempted hegemonic control over the state apparatus by the Awami League power base. It must be mentioned that the class base of the newly established Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) was no different than the previous regime, but it represented a section that, throughout the Pakistan era, had enjoyed political privileges and patronage of the state and felt deprived in the newly independent Bangladesh. The resentment against the officers of the Civil Service of Pakistan (CSP) was made manifest in the issuing of the Presidential Order No. 9, which removed the constitutional protection of service enjoyed by the civil servants of Pakistan and subjected them to dismissal without cause or recourse to court review. Awami League loyalists used this to purge the bureaucracy of non-Awami Leaguers and to replace them. Bureaucratic infighting prevented any resistance being built up against this onslaught, but those who remained harboured a growing sense of injustice, resentment and alienation towards the Awami League. The situation of the military vis-à-vis the government was worse. The military in post-independence Bangladesh found its corporate interests threatened by the new government. The formation of the Jatiyo Rakhhi Bahini, a parallel paramilitary organisation, particularly instigated the military. The change in regime in 1975 did not witness a change in the extortionist tendencies inherent in the previous regime. In many cases, it only meant a change of sides by the same ‘beneficiaries’of the previous regime, namely, businessmen and subcontractors. One of the vivid examples of this volte-face has been described in Nilima Ibrahim’s Ami Birangona Bolchhi (Ibrahim, 1994/1995), from the perspective of a raped victim of the 1971 war who helplessly witnessed her husband



compromising his role as a freedom-fighter in order to obtain licences from the BNP government. But the change also meant additional benefits and privileges to those alienated by the previous regimes. It meant the restoration of the power and privileges of the bureaucracy, expansion of the military, and centralisation of power in the hands of an elected president. Under Ziaur Rahman, the ‘militarisation’ of the bureaucracy started with senior military officers being inducted at all levels of the administration. Military officers were appointed to nine out of 20 secretary positions, 14 out of 30 superintendents of police, 10 out of 20 top public sector corporate directorships, and some 32 diplomatic posts. The floating of the BNP, itself a conglomerate of diverse interests, was held together by Ziaur Rahman’s patronage in the form of jobs, bank loans, licences and permits. The support base of the BNP was drawn from sections of the military, bureaucracy, business community, pro-China radicals, pro-Islamic elements and former members of the Awami League who had opposed Shaikh Mujib’s authoritarianism. Under Ziaur Rahman, therefore, corruption became institutionalised. In a speech delivered in 1979, he himself admitted that corruption and misuse of power had led to the wasting of almost 40 per cent of the total resources set apart for development (Kochanek, 1993). The military coup by General Ershad in March 1982 led to the creation of an authoritarian military bureaucratic state. Following in his predecessor’s footsteps, Ershad created his Jatiyo Party to legitimise himself; and even more than the BNP, it was held together by generous political patronage. Also, lacking an overarching ideology with which to attract popular support and legitimacy, he attempted to use religion, making Islam the state religion. This was a mere consolidation of a trend started by his predecessor. Under Ershad, corruption became all-pervasive, extending from petty corruption, project corruption (for example, taking large commissions for securing large public sector contracts) and programme corruption (for example, food scandals). Ershad’s government was not popular among students and the urban middle classes. Their discontent culminated in the mass movement of 1990, which created conditions for his forced resignation from office. The end of Ershad’s rule, coinciding with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the worldwide movement for democracy, witnessed the end of direct military rule in Bangladesh politics. At the same time, it heralded in a polarisation of party politics between the BNP and the



Awami League to a level that even involved public and professional institutions such as universities, bar associations, medical associations and other civil society forums. But it is important to bear in mind that the polarisation occurred at a superficial ideological level of Bengali versus Bangladeshi nationalism, or, as many would like to purport, at the level of personalities, that is, a fight between the ‘two ladies’. The polarisation, therefore, did not reflect class differences. Conflicts between the Awami League and BNP were more about power sharing than anything else—share in jobs, acquired property, business licences and tenders, as has been nakedly demonstrated in open disputes between the two student branches of the mainstream parties in various university campuses. What has been bothering many middle-class intellectuals and donors alike is not so much the disputes themselves, but the crude and violent ways of resolving them. According to them, the ideal and more ‘civilised’ way of resolving such disputes should have been through consensus-building in democratic institutions such as Parliament or meeting over a table. But the near absence of the opposition in Parliament and the resolution of political issues out on the streets, much to the annoyance of liberal middle-class intellectuals and donors alike, have failed to bring about a happy resolution of the principles of a power-sharing consensus. That is why much of the takeover of power (whether by the Awami League or BNP) resembles the politics of ‘char dokhol’ (occupation of char lands1), which is more typical of a thriving peasantry than a burgeoning bourgeois democracy! The above history of social formation in Bangladesh, through processes of extortion and plundering, lays the foundation for looking at the current character of the democratic process and its challenges.

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS POLITICS OF POLARISATION Proverbs and poetry are important reflections of the state of a society. Bengali culture and politics are, in fact, quite enmeshed, and the state of politics in Bangladesh is well reflected by a proverb in Bengali popular culture that says, jar nai kono niti shaei kore rajniti (one who does not have any principles does politics). One cannot blame the general people for such a perception. Since its birth, the political history of Bangladesh



has been marred by violence: a nation born out of violence with an estimated death of 30 million and rape of 20 million, yet the dream of a golden Bengal has remained unrealised. Political parties in Bangladesh have had a distorted birth and growth. The Awami League, the major political party that had carried on the nationalist movement of Bangladesh in the name of democracy and self-determination of the people, itself turned into an autocratic institution when in 1975 it declared the Bangladesh Klishak Sramik Awami League (BAKSAL). All political parties were banned and the country adopted a one-party system. Ziaur Rahman, the military general-turned-politician, returned the country to a multi-party system in the late 1970s, but by then Bangladeshi politics had been polarised. The dividing line is often characterised as secularism versus communalism, the former being proliberation and the latter anti-liberation forces. It needs to be mentioned here that secularism in Bangladesh never implied absence of religion; rather, equal respect and opportunities for all religions. In view of the excesses of the Pakistani regime and the use of religion by them to dominate the East Bengalis, constitutional provisions were inserted banning the use of religion for political purposes and also banning communal political parties. However, given the numerical majority of Muslim Bengalis and the equation of electoral politics, religion was never absent from the political space of the country. Mujib was also shifting towards the use of religious symbols towards the end of his reign. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party of Ziaur Rahman carried it forward and institutionalised it through bringing about constitutional amendments to consolidate its own political position. Secularism as a state principle was dropped from the constitution; in its place absolute faith in the almighty Allah was inserted. The ban on activities of communal political parties was also lifted. These changes had far-reaching implications. They changed the basic character of the state. Now the state clearly identified itself with a particular religious community, and also from a model of Bengali nationalism the state moved towards the model of Bangladeshi nationalism. Most significantly, it polarised and divided the people. The Bengali Muslim civil society was divided over the issue of Bengali versus Bangladeshi nationalism, the former being protagonists of secularism and the latter of communal politics. It also created the ‘minority’ question. Not only Bengali Hindus, but Ahmediyas and Qadiyanis are under attack today largely due to these constitutional changes. One, however, needs to keep in context that the Awami League, despite remaining in power



for five years, could not revert to a secular constitution mainly due to electoral politics. Apart from this apparent divide, there is hardly any ideological difference between the two mainstream parties, the Awami League and the BNP. On the economic front, both profess liberal economies and development of the private sector. The rise of Jamaat in the political arena is often regarded as a contributory factor towards the politics of polarisation. One should recall here that the Awami League had formed an alliance with the Jamaat in 1994–96 to oust the then BNP regime. True, it had not made them a ruling alliance partner, like the present BNP regime, but the significance of an alliance to oust a regime cannot be understated. One, therefore, seriously needs to ponder about the dividing lines: is secularism versus fundamentalism the issue, or is it merely who is in power? In the wake of the 21 August 2004 grenade attacks, the country witnessed a surge of bomb threats and bombs being found all over, including in academic institutions and public places. How much of it is real is immaterial. The important point to be noted is the intrusion of terror and terrorist activities into the popular psyche and space. The acts, evidently aimed at the disruption of the democratic process in the country, on the face of it, appear to be the act of fundamentalist forces, since the letters and e-mails containing the threats bear the message of it being done in the name of Islam. The failure of the BNP alliance government to either nab the elements or even take a firm critical stand against these forces only provide fodder to the polarisation process. The country once again seems set for another ousted government. The main opposition party, the Awami League, has forged an alliance with the left-leaning parties on a one-point demand—resignation of the government. The left parties have added to their agenda anti-fundamentalism as well. This means more strikes, more violence, and increase of miseries for the general people. All this, however, is done in the name of democracy and the people’s welfare. Bangladesh politics seems to have bid farewell to the norms and peaceful methods of protests. Such movements indeed augur ill for the smooth functioning of democracy, where tolerance and accommodation are a must. Instead, a culture of intolerance, hatred and violence is being bred. Bikolpo Dhara2 (literally, alternative stream), another addition in the polarised political spectrum, has failed to provide any alternatives. It, too, has joined the oust-the-government movement. Political parties in Bangladesh, indeed, are trapped within the politics of hatred; one can call it the death of imagination.



MILITARISATION AND CRIMINALISATION OF THE POLITY On 21 August 2004 the entire country went into a state of shock and horror. Grenades hurled at the leader of the opposition, Sheikh Hasina, killed 20 people, and injured about 300. The main opposition party, the Awami League, had called the meeting to protest the bomb explosions in Sylhet. After that, grenades were found inside Dhaka Central Jail and Dhaka Medical College Hospital. There were bomb scares in educational institutions, and airports were under red alert due to bomb threats. Since 1996, there have been about 19 major incidents of bomb attacks, even in religious places, and cultural festivals and gatherings. Where does human security stand in Bangladesh then? In 2004 and 2005, Bangladesh was rated the most corrupt country by Transparency International. Without debating the validity of the observation, there is no denying that there is something seriously wrong with the entire system. (The demand for a guarantee of a natural death speaks of the deep maladies.) The proliferation of small arms, protection of known criminals by political parties, and the former occupying important political positions within the party and also the political system are well known. Most ward commissioners are known criminals. Toll collection by political parties is the order of the day. Murders of shopkeepers for refusal to pay tolls are also quite frequent. It is important and somewhat disturbing to note that while small arms are widely and quite rightly blamed for the militarisation of the Bangladesh polity, and it is also considered a high-terrorist-risk country by the West, yet there is little focus on the source of these arms. Seventy per cent of these arms are manufactured in the developed world. The West has not evolved any international legal regime for their control. At this point one may wonder as to what went wrong, why Bangladesh failed to evolve a stable and meaningful democratic system and a healthy political party process. While one can blame colonialism as well as the internal colonialism of Pakistan for this, one cannot deny that political growth was stunted and distorted by the intervention of the military in politics.

POLITICISATION OF THE MILITARY The liberation war of Bangladesh had politicised the Bangladesh army. The Mukti Bahini (liberation forces), which formed the nucleus of the



Bangladesh army in the immediate aftermath of the liberation war, was divided along the regular Bengali forces of the then Pakistan army, and those recruited by the Awami League. After the liberation of Bangladesh, Mujib paid little attention to rebuilding the armed forces; this was a cause of major discontent among the army. The repatriation of Bengali military officials from Pakistan added further divisions within the military, between the repatriates and the freedom fighters. Besides, as suggested earlier, the liberation war had thoroughly politicised the military. A group within them wanted to follow the conventional British army model; while another was for a people’s army modelled after the People’s Army of China. Within this backdrop, Mujib’s disregard for the military and instead the creation of a Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini (national defence force) was looked upon with much dismay by the military. It was seen as a parallel institution and a threat to their vested interests. The state of affairs, the nepotism and corruption rampant within the political administration also dismayed the military. The Bangladesh army carried the legacy of the Pakistan army, which had a history of deep involvement in politics. On 15 August 1975, Mujib was assassinated by a group of military officers. With this began the direct involvement of the military in Bangladesh politics. From 1975 to 1991, the country remained under military and quasi-military rule, when finally Ershad was ousted from power by a popular upsurge. For the first time in the political history of Bangladesh, all major political parties had joined forces to bring this about. During the period, however, Bangladesh politics had become distorted. The introduction of religion into politics, as suggested earlier, had polarised the polity along the secular versus non-secular question. This began the process of the politicisation of religion for the vested interests of politicians. Bengali nationalism had created an ethnic minority, and this later added to it the religious minority issue. The BNP of Ziaur Rahman and the Jatiyo Party of H.M. Ershad were created during this period at the direct behest of the military intelligence. The two parties during their rule militarised the administration through the heavy induction of military officials into the civil administrative system. The anti-Ershad movement had seen unity between political forces, but at the same time, long years of agitation had militarised Bangladesh politics. During the period, the student wings of political parties were encouraged to use arms, and continuous strikes were the order of the day. Bangladesh politics, thus, became weaponised and street-centric.



The end of the Ershad regime did not bring about stability in the political arena. The politics of polarisation and confrontation continued. The inability of political forces to institutionalise themselves has made the military a factor in Bangladesh politics. The two major political parties have continued to beef up the military, and the civilian regime maintains its direct control over the military through the armed forces division. Appointments to the higher and strategic positions are also politically guided. Though the military have maintained a distance from politics, they are well aware of their power and also that their interests remain secure. Autocratic structures like the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and the extraordinary powers vested in the military in the name of maintaining law and order, like in the case of Operation Clean Heart3, only adds to their power. During Operation Clean Heart, they were given impunity for their actions and tried under military courts; the civilian courts could not try them. Consequently, the military remain unaccountable to their public. This only enhances their power.

GLOBALISATION Globalisation has impacted the developing countries in more fundamental and crucial ways than is apparently discernible. At a very critical level, it has put the state under tremendous stress. On the one hand, through the opening up of markets, information, ideas and technology, it has appropriated much sovereignty from the state; on the other hand, being a pro-rich and pro-technology force, it has raised fundamental questions. For instance, if the developing world can meet the challenges and go with the flow of globalisation, what does it entail for the common people, if it is opening up or shrinking spaces for them? And how does it affect the capabilities of the state? In the context of Bangladesh, one can suggest that it has had a negative impact on the poor, women and indigenous people. Structural adjustment policies have shrunk the spaces for them, induced forced migration, and taken them away from their traditional means of livelihood. It has also increased violence against women, mainly for two reasons: first, loss of livelihood impacts women more severely since they have to take care of the family, and it has been observed that in such situations, men become more violent and vent their frustrations on women; second, when women go out in search of work under such circ*mstances,



they are often physically and sexually abused, and they also become victims of fatwa (religious decrees). Women working in the garments sector provide a good instance of the latter. On the other hand, there is constant pressure on the part of donors and various rights organisations, both national and international, for reforms, transparency, human rights, women rights and greater democratisation. Though laudable, this brings one back to the fundamental question—whether the demands put up by the developed world in terms of trade and economics are fair, as the terms and pace of globalisation are set by the West. There is clearly a double standard. By dictating terms, the West makes it quite impossible for developing countries to bring about the welfare of its masses, which is in the true spirit of democracy. One might suggest that through globalisation the West is pushing its own agenda of hom*ogenising the world to serve its own purpose; in the name of promoting and establishing democracy, they are harping on the outer fittings, while the soul and spirit is lost. In the context of Bangladesh as well, it is benefiting the rich and creating a new middle class, based largely on corruption and muscle power. Small arms and drugs have also proliferated, and it is this new middle class that is not only involved in this business, but also uses it to attain political power. The state uses these non-state elements to hang on to its power base; yet, due to pressures for reforms from within and outside, it formulates one legal measure after another, like the Public Safety Act and Prevention of Terrorism against Women and Children Act. Speedy tribunal courts have been set up to dispense quick justice. However, in most instances, the real criminals go free, for they control the niches of power, and they also bribe the lawyers and magistrates; it is the poor and marginalised who continue to suffer.

MIGRATION AND POLITICAL SETTLEMENTS Migration is supposedly a natural phenomenon of human history. People have been moving from one place to another in search of better living conditions and opportunities. With globalisation, unplanned development or maldevelopment and the move towards mechanisation, spaces have shrunk for the poor and the marginalised in rural sectors. Consequently, they move to urban areas in search of jobs. Women constitute a significant portion of these migrants, including women



from indigenous communities. This is an issue of critical concern among minorities since their entire structures are collapsing. For instance, the Garos, who are a matrilineal society, are consistently raising the point that land and forest alienation of their community due to Bengali settlements as well as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) sponsored forestry policies of the government have forced their women to migrate to cities where they work either as housemaids or in the beauty parlours of Dhaka city. This is a matter of great humiliation for a community where women constitute the head of the household. Bengali women, it has been observed, get absorbed in the garments sector. Though much has been made about the empowerment of women through employment in this sector, empirical studies have revealed their physical and psychological insecurities, also the fact that it is the lack of options rather than availability of choices that make them join and continue to work in this sector. They end up living in slums, where the living conditions are inhuman; many a times they become victims of physical abuse. Their predicament does not end here; a more daunting future haunts them. They are not looked upon as ‘good and proper’ women once they go back to their own villages. There have been instances where their husbands have abandoned them either because of societal pressures, or the women became physically sick so that they could not meet the demands of their husbands. It has also been observed that many women end up in brothels. In most instances, they had been brought to the cities by known men of their own localities with the promise of job. There have been cases of women falling prey to human traffickers and have ended up in brothels in India, Pakistan and Nepal. In cities, slums have become the den of criminal activities, starting from arms manufacture to drugs business. They are important vote banks and are more often than not nurtured by political godfathers. They carry on terrorist acts and murders at the behest of their mentors. They seldom have any party allegiance and are bought with money. At one point, they become ringmasters and acquire an autonomy of their own. The cases of Picchi Hannan, Kala Jahangir and others bear testimony to this. The state has also brought about deliberate demographic shifts in areas habited by minorities to dilute their ethnic composition. In the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), it was used as a counter-insurgency move. Consequently, today Bengalis constitute more than 50 per cent of the population of the CHT. In the plains as well, Bengalis are being



settled alongside the indigenous population. These demographic shifts have far-reaching implications for human security and democratisation of society at large.4 Due to the changed demographic composition, land alienation is taking place very rapidly. It needs to be mentioned that the government settles Bengalis in the community land of the indigenous people, which it terms as khas or government-owned land. The non-recognition of the traditional practices of the indigenous people’s rights over land is a violation of their human rights and goes against the principle and spirit of democracy. The Bengali settlements result in shrinking of spaces and means of livelihood for the indigenous communities. They borrow money from Bengali moneylenders and also sell off their lands to them out of sheer poverty. Such settlements, one would argue, are politically motivated and only accelerate the process of marginalisation of the already marginalised indigenous people.

THE NON-GOVERNMENTAL SECTOR The non-governmental sector, NGOs, business organisations, private sector and civil society organisations are emerging as a strong pressure forum. Despite the chaos and unruliness of democracy in Bangladesh, spaces of dissent, protest as well as demands have been carved out by these institutions and forums. Human rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights, environmental rights and demands for electoral reforms are being fought out in these forums. Through wall papers5, street theatres, posters, billboards, legal aids, media coverage and so on, they are trying to reach out to the people, conscientise them about their rights, and form networks within and between them for community protection. Many of these organisations have forged regional and international networks as well, and together they are emerging as a strong international civil society forum. True, these organisations are deeply polarised and many of them have clear-cut political orientations, yet the power of this sector as a force in shaping the politics of the country can hardly be overemphasised.

TERRORISM AND BANGLADESH’S LOCATION The events of 9/11 changed international politics in very fundamental ways. The American war on terrorism singled out the Islamic and



Muslim-majority states as terrorist-risk countries. Bangladesh has also been categorised as a high-risk terrorist state. Bangladesh, on its part, has been trying hard to project itself as a moderate Muslim majority state, but the activities of various fundamentalist groups—their attacks on Hindus, Ahmediyas, shrines, and bomb and grenade attacks all over the country—have put the state in a very critical position. There is no denying that subversive non-state elements are gaining power. The state is also perceived by many to be patronising the terrorist elements since the Jamaat is within the ruling alliance. The validity of the argument is a matter of debate, but the failure of the state to check the growth of these elements gives rise to such positions and allegations. There is no denying that such activities and the total failure of the state to curb these is a threat to the spirit, process and institution of democracy. Bangladesh’s location as a bridge between South and Southeast Asia makes it strategically important for terrorists and also for the regional powers. On the southeastern front, being in the vicinity of Myanmar and Thailand, Bangladesh has become a transit point for the smuggling of small arms and drugs. The continued instability in the CHT and its physical closeness with Myanmar and the Indian northeast, both of which are infested with insurgent activities, makes the security situation more complicated. It not only has an impact upon human security, but also state security. Being surrounded by India on three sides also makes Bangladesh’s position quite important as well as vulnerable. The nature of relations with India is critical. Bangladesh shares not only common and porous borders with India, but also resources, most important of which is water. How these resources are shared and the use of borders as spaces of cooperation or confrontation affects the human security and, consequently, democracy in both countries. India has consistently accused Bangladesh of supporting its northeast insurgents. Bangladesh, on its part, denies the allegations, and asserts India is giving refuge to its terrorists and criminals, and also supporting anti-Bangladesh movements like the Bangabhumi Andolon. Such allegations and counter-allegations do not help the democratic process in the region. In the aftermath of 9/11, the list has been added to, and India now accuses Bangladesh of supporting Kashmiri insurgents with help from the Pakistani ISI. In its war against terrorism, the US seeks the support of the Muslimmajority countries, and in this respect, Bangladesh being a moderate Islamic state, is of critical importance to the US. The involvement of



the FBI in the investigation of the grenade attacks in the meeting of the Awami League on 21 August 2004 bears testimony to this. Not only the US, but the entire donor club representatives in Bangladesh are involved in the affair. Civil society reactions to the incident were very strong, and critical of the regime. The message was clear: Bangladesh society wanted the government to act, and to act quickly in putting a stop to the ongoing terrorist activities. The international community also conveyed the same message. The big question, however, given the extreme polarisation of Bangladesh politics and the failure of political parties to unite or even have minimum consensus over issues of crucial importance, is whether the state is in a position or has the capacity to act.

EMERGING DEBATES The scenario is indeed sombre. Yet, the polarisations, the mass upsurge against the Ershad regime that had usurped power through a military coup in 1982, and the electoral results of 2001 despite the violence, speak of the robustness and vibrancy of the society. The 2001 elections were marred by violence against the Hindu community; this is indeed a scar on democracy and reflects the tyranny of a majoritarian democracy. The results were, however, widely regarded as fair by national and international election observers. The victory of the BNP, despite the alliance with Jamaat-e-Islami, Islamic Shasotantrik Oikyo Andolan and a splinter faction of the Jatiyo Party, was also largely attributed to the failure of the Awami League to check terrorism and corruption. These are indicative of the will and power of the people to move forward, to resist, to debate, to argue, and the refusal to give in. The power of this process, despite the hazards associated with it, must not be undermined. Through these processes, polarisations and movements, one can discern the evolving demands and aspirations of the people for a polity that they had fought for with their blood, tears and untold agonies. The following is an account of this.

Secularism versus Communalism It has been argued earlier that Bengali nationalism as it had evolved within Pakistan was secular in its orientation. This was the logical



outcome of the movement of the East Bengalis against the West Pakistani regime, which was using religion as the tool of oppression and exploitation against the Bengalis. After liberation, Bengali nationalism was adopted as the basis of Bangladesh’s nationalism. It took its roots from Bengali language and culture. Secularism was also adopted as one of the state principles, and political parties with religious orientations were banned. This, however, changed after 1975. Ziaur Rahman introduced the Bangladeshi model of nationhood; secularism was dropped from the constitution and substituted by absolute faith in the almighty. The ban on communal political parties was also lifted. Ershad carried it further. Islam was adopted as the state religion and he even ventured to turn Bangladesh into a mosque-centric society. It would, however, be too simplistic if clear lines are drawn between secular and non-secular forces. The actual situation is much more complex. One can observe several strands on this among the political parties. On a closer reading, even the position of the two major political parties, the BNP and Awami League, does not appear to be much different, though one is the main proponent of Bengali nationalism and the other Bangladeshi. The compulsions of electoral politics and majoritarian democracy may be responsible for this. The Awami League, though blaming the BNP for communalisation of politics, makes liberal use of religion in all its activities. It has not clearly stated its stance on the issue of reinserting secularism by replacing the Islamic insertions in the constitution, though from time to time its leadership has talked of a return to the constitution of 1972. Neither did it take any measures in this regard during its term in office. It has been pointed out earlier that it had made Jamaat an alliance partner in 1993– 94 during the ‘oust-the-BNP movement’ led by it. The BNP, too, openly condemns communalism and fundamentalism; however, one may argue that by making Jamaat a partner in the ruling alliance, the Awami League is patronising the fundamentalist forces. It is the left and left-leaning parties who have demanded a return to the constitution of 1972 and also the reinsertion of secularism in it. Civil society is also divided on the issue and reflects the general political debate. The growth of communal forces, attack on minorities, specially the Hindus, emergence of stunt figures like Bangla bhai, clandestine organisations like Hikmatul Jihad, and the attack on Ahmediyas are viewed with much concern. The civil society and media have taken a very positive and effective stand on these issues. The general consensus appears to be that one has to draw a clear line between being communal and



religious. A majority of the people belong to the latter group. Bengalis have, through their cultural and political festivals like Poila Boishakh and Ekushey February, time and again demonstrated their secular and syncretic spirit. The debates and the resistance suggest that Bangladesh will not give in to communal forces despite the rise in their activities at the moment, which one may see as a reaction to the forces of globalisation as well, often equated with Westernisation. It has been pointed out earlier that the 21 August 2004 grenade attacks further polarised the political scenario. The non-state actors appear to have appropriated the state apparatus. But civil society and opposition political parties have refused to give in. The ongoing resistance speaks of the people’s power and the issue being the most critical in the political spectrum of the country.

Democratisation of Politics Several issues are involved here, beginning with internal democracy and reforms within political parties, to weeding out corruption and criminalisation, and women and minority representations at local governmental levels. The lack of internal democracy within parties is gradually becoming an issue. The unceremonial dismissal of former President Badruddoza Chowdhury for his failure to visit the graveyard of the founder and former BNP chief, late President Ziaur Rahman, has been viewed with much displeasure by the people in general. The treatment meted out to Major (retd.) Abdul Mannan on his decision to quit the BNP was also severely criticised. The same holds true for the Awami League. The old guards within the party tolerate no dissenting voices. Despite clear provisions for elections within parties, top positions are occupied by the same coterie. Within Parliament, the system of open votes for reaching a decision makes it impossible for any party member to hold a dissenting opinion or abstain from voting. The demand for democratisation of political parties, however, is not a widespread one and is limited within academic circles. The demand for the reform of political parties and weeding them of corrupt members has gained popular appeal, though. The print media has played a very effective role in this respect. Photographs showing top political leaders waving pistols caught the eyes and minds of millions. The reporting of criminal and terrorist activities carried on by political leaders as well as their cronies, family members and



party cadres has created a general awareness on these issues. There is also a general demand for political and financial accountability of politicians. Citizens’ forums have also demanded that fund-raising by political parties must be regulated by law framed by Parliament. The provision for 30 reserved seats for women in the national Parliament expired in 2001. The present Parliament does not have any reservations for women. The demand for meaningful representation of women in national politics is huge. It is somewhat of an irony that despite having two women at the helm of national politics, one in the top position and the other as leader of the opposition, and despite their wielding almost absolute power within their respective parties, national politics remain excessively masculinised. Women’s organisations have been demanding an increase in the political participation of women in order for them to have a critical mass and voice to bring about change. Their demands have varied between a minimum of 68 to 100 seats reserved for women with the provision for direct elections in those constituencies. The reservation of women’s constituencies may be phased out in time. Women have been particularly insistent on the issue of direct elections in order to have parity with men. Nominations were often ridiculed and the women nominated in the reserved seats were often referred to as 30 sets of ornaments. There is also demand that political parties should nominate at least a certain percentage of women during elections. The present regime has introduced a bill for 45 reseved seats for women. This has been severely criticised by women organisations, since it is far below their demands and also there is no provision for direct elections. The lack of this curbs the powers and position of women Members of Parliament (MPs), and also suggests that women are not equal members of the political system. There is, indeed, a need for engendering politics and democracy. Values and concerns of women are vital for the survival of the society. The issue of minority rights and minority representation is gradually but steadily gaining ground. Human rights organisations brought this issue to the fore in the late 1980s in the wake of the CHT conflict and reports of human rights violations by the security personnel in the region. The issue was nationalised and internationalised by the Hill people’s forums like the Pahari Chatra Parishad (PCP) and Hill Women’s Federation (HWF). Beginning in the 1990s, the issue gained momentum, with ethnic minorities themselves giving forceful voices to the demand. With the signing of the CHT peace accord and



the formation of the Jatiyo Adibashi Forum, the demand has gained wider space. The issue of democratisation and meaningful representation of women at the local government level is also emerging as a major one. These political institutions constitute the foundations of power for politics at the national level. The government has reserved three seats in these bodies through direct elections. But the elected representatives allege that they have not been devolved substantive powers and are treated discriminately in comparison with their male colleagues. The airing of these views and the demand for reforms in the situation is a positive move towards democratisation of society.

Accountability of the Military For a long period, the defence forces were above criticism and in general they remained above any accountability. The scenario, however, is changing slowly. The excesses of the military in the CHT have come under scrutiny of a certain section of academicians and also human rights organisations. The custodial deaths during Operation Clean Heart, and the ongoing activities and custodial deaths under the Rapid Action Battalion, have also been the subject of much criticism by civil society, human rights organisations, legal aid bodies, the intelligentsia and the print media. Defence purchases and budgets have also come under scrutiny. The military, on its part, is aware of the public pulse. It is keen on improving its public image; it has refrained from involving itself in politics. Its image has also been enhanced by its reputation in international peacekeeping. Bangladesh sends the highest number of troops for this purpose. The National Defence College and the Military Staff College also maintain a close link with civil society. Their academic curriculum, prepared in close coordination with university teachers, offers courses ranging from military security to human security. University teachers and civil bureaucrats are among their guest faculty. With the objective of forging closer links with civil society, the NDC has recently introduced programmes involving visiting public and private universities. The accountability of the military, however, is largely constrained by certain provisions of the constitution that impede the freedom of speech. For the interests of national security and public safety, certain issues are to be discussed under reasonable secrecy. These are



couched in ambiguous terms, giving wide-ranging powers to the state and also the security and coercive apparatuses of the state.

Electoral Reforms Through the 13th amendment to the Constitution, Bangladesh introduced the system of caretaker government for a period of 90 days for the sole purpose of holding elections in 1996. Acute polarisation, politicisation of administration and, above all, lack of trust upon the ruling regime to hold fair elections is responsible for this. Under this system, upon the completion of its term, the party in power resigns and hands over power to a group of advisers selected on the basis of consensus between parties. The last chief justice serves as chief adviser. The caretaker government remains in charge of dayto-day affairs and is not supposed to take any important policy decision. The president, however, does not resign and remains in charge of defence. The Election Commission is an autonomous body and frames its own rules. In order to have fair elections, citizens’ bodies and NGOs have formed observation teams who monitor the elections. Besides, a large number of regional and international bodies also monitor the elections in Bangladesh. Citizens’ bodies have been demanding reforms in various sectors in the election process, including the preparation of an updated voters’ list, provision for postal votes so that the expatriate population can exercise their franchise rights, a more rigorous but realistic code of conduct for the candidates, and, more importantly, the provision for an independent Election Commission, with its own staff to conduct elections. This includes security personnel as well as administrative staff. This is extremely important in view of the politicisation of administration, the members of which are usually called upon to conduct elections. The provision of registration of political parties contesting elections should be made mandatory. In order to create a ‘level playing field’ for political parties as well as for candidates, the state-owned media, both TV and radio, must be brought under the control of the Election Commission during the period. The law permitting a candidate to contest the election from five constituencies should be amended, limiting the number to two. Poll observers should be provided legal coverage to enter and observe proceedings.



Parliament Reforms It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that Bangladesh has a dysfunctional Parliament. Politics is street-centric rather than Parliamentary. Boycott by the opposition is the norm rather than exception, irrespective of the party, though the opposition continues to enjoy the privileges of Parliament members at the cost of the general public. The opposition and ruling party could reach perfect consensus only on two issues: raising of salaries for MPs and the import of duty-free Pajeros for them. This, indeed, speaks of the lack of sensitivity and political bankruptcy. Time and again, even before Parliament sessions begin, the opposition makes its participation conditional upon the ‘rational’ behaviour of the ruling party. What constitutes ‘rational’ is not defined. The major cause of their boycott, as pointed out by them, is the partisan behaviour of the speaker, the refusal of the speaker to allow them to speak, and switching off mikes during their deliberations. In the wake of the ineffectiveness of Parliament, and the threat to human security caused due to street-centric politics, citizens have been demanding to take politics back to its rightful place, that is, the Parliament. Besides, there have been demands for reforming Parliament in order to make it effective. These demands include the post of deputy speaker to be held by the opposition. The speaker ought to resign from his political party upon being elected. The sessions of the parliamentary committees should be open, and civil society organisations and individuals with expertise should be invited to give their views on matters of national importance. The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee should invariably be a member from the opposition. Article 70 of the constitution should be reasonably amended to allow members to express their views according to their judgements instead of toeing the party lines.

Administrative and Judicial Reforms Depoliticisation of the administration has been a long-standing demand of citizens. The entire administration, it appears, is polarised along the two mainstream political party lines. Transfers and promotions in key positions are made according to political preferences and priorities. Corruption is rampant within the administrative service. Separation of the judiciary from the executive has been a major demand of citizens,



and has been the electoral promise of all major parties. This is of critical importance. The judiciary is directly involved in the electoral process since the last retired chief justice becomes chief adviser of the caretaker government. The government has been accused of manipulating the appointment of judges on political considerations. This has polarised the judiciary along political party lines. There is also a demand for the setting up of an ombudsman and an independent anti-corruption commission. The government keeps on promising these and political parties add them in their manifestos, but largely because of their vested political interests they have not fulfilled these promises.

Rights and Protection Agendas Human rights, women’s rights, minority rights and migrant workers’ rights are emerging as important demands and the basis of civil society movements. Legal aids and human and women rights organisations have come up with specific demands for protection and rights of various vulnerable groups, starting from garments workers and slum dwellers to sex workers. These organisations maintain networks with regional and international agencies on various issues. They provide services as well as promote rights awareness among the vulnerable groups. They lobby with the state, donors, and regional and international forums for creating a legal regime to provide social justice and dignity to vulnerable groups. Despite polarisations within and among these movements, it cannot be denied that such movements are aimed at humanising and democratising the society and polity. All these issues provide a map of the dreams and aspirations of the people. How far they are translated into reality, however, is another question. One can observe three clear tends. On the one hand, there is the utter irrationality and political bankruptcy of the politicians; then, there is the growing danger of the rise of dark forces in the form of communalism and terrorism; on the positive side, one can also observe a very proactive and vibrant civil society (though polarised) voicing the voice of reason, sanity and harmony for a just society. A major weakness of the latter, however, is its failure to reach the sinews of society, to transform these into a mass movement. Most of the thinktanks and organisations are Dhaka-centric and limited to an elite that has little contacts with the masses. The intelligentsia, too, speaks a language hardly communicable and understable to the general people.



However, NGOs are playing a major role in conscientising the people and taking issues to the community level. But they have their limitations; being donor dependent, they are constrained by funds. Consequently, they have to follow the agendas of the donors. There also are major silences on issues of critical importance for human and societal security. These include matters of economic reforms, land reforms, trade unionism, education and health reforms, and environmental issues. This is not to suggest that they have not surfaced at all, but to make the point that these have remained rather muted, concerning only a few agencies, and have not become issues of major public debates and deliberations. Several reasons can be identified for this. To begin with, one may argue that the volatile and polarised nature of politics, with its demons like public insecurity, frequent strikes, terrorist acts, toll collection and corruption, makes life a daily struggle for the general people, leaving them with little scope and energy to think of alternatives; second and more important, being an aid-dependent and donor-driven country, governmental as well as non-governmental sectors stress on issues important to donors. The political economy of aid comes into play. What hopes and futures do we then have for democracy in Bangladesh? Is it going to institutionalise itself into a system contributing to and acting in synergy with the people as a tool of human security and development; or is it going to be a rule of a minority majority; or are we heading for a collision of different forces?

TRAJECTORIES FOR DEMOCRACY Politics, it is evident, be it national or international, does not operate in a vacuum. The variables impacting it, as well as the debates and issues emerging from it, make the connection between the local, regional and global abundantly clear. Based on the analyses made in the previous section, one can suggest different scenarios for Bangladesh. The first is almost like a doomsday prediction, and seems most evident given the extreme violent, criminalised and polarised nature of Bangladesh politics. It would be unfair to pin the increase in violence, criminalisation and collapse of human security on national politics alone. Globalisation, it has been argued earlier, has put states under stress. Growing unemployment caused due to structural adjustment programmes (SAP), the unrestrained production of small arms by the



developed world, the association of terrorism with Islam by the West (though they deny such a position, their policies do not reflect the denials)—all these forces combined give vent to the forces of communalism and also violence. Small arms and drugs not only militarise and weaponise society, but are also big business, a major source of muscle, money and power for the otherwise unemployed. The bombing of places of religious interest to Muslims in Iraq is watched with much dismay and anger by the people in Bangladesh. The age of satellite television, in other words, the globalisation of information and technology, has made it possible even for someone sitting in a remote village to witness such scenes. Such destruction is not accepted and is taken as a direct attack on Islam. Rise of fundamentalism and militarism with the easy availability of small arms is only a little step from here. It does not take much persuasion to take this leap. The Western ‘rationality’ has somehow failed to take cognisance of Eastern sensitivities and rationality. Extreme polarisation among political parties and the blame game that has become so predictable in the political arena further complicate the situation. The state takes recourse to autocratic mechanisms, enforcing draconian laws curtailing the fundamental rights of citizens. More authoritarian structures like the RAB are instituted; more power is vested in intelligence agencies. This results in shrinking of spaces for dissent as well as debate for the general people. The lack of political accommodation on the part of political parties only exacerbates the situation. Strikes are the most common and sought-after recourse by the major opposition, despite the increasing fatigue and frustration of the general people as well as professional groups. It is understandable that under such a scenario, human security is the first casualty as violence is rampant during the strikes. Apart from the economic loss suffered by the entire nation, the academic loss is also colossal. At the university level, year after year, the academic calendar goes haywire. A normal four to five years for a student to complete his undergraduate and graduate studies, now takes him seven to eight years, not to mention the the mental suffering, which is immeasurable. Students coming from upper-middle-class families either go abroad to pursue their graduate and postgraduate degrees, or take admissions in private universities and medical colleges that are beyond the means of an average citizen. At each instance, the poor people suffer. The country also is losing out on its young talent. If one takes into account the consequences of strikes, one would indeed call it a moral and social sin and



evil. It is also undemocratic, for it curtails the fundamental rights of citizens. A simple survey of the political leadership would reveal that their children are either studying abroad or in private institutions. Besides, the development process of the general people is severely hampered as funds from human security sectors like health, education and economic reforms are diverted to fund the special security institutions formed to tackle not only violence and damage related to strikes, but also the general violence and criminalisation of politics. It has also been observed that preoccupation with issues of party politics takes up the space for debates on issues vital for human security, like education, economics and health. More importantly, it creates a psyche of siege, fear, and a culture of intolerance of differences and dissent; consequently, it gives rise to a culture with a very high level of tolerance of violence. In terms of services, rights and human security, followed by democracy or the formal set-up of democracy, carries little meaning. This augurs ill both for institutions and the lived reality of people. The strengthening of the forces of coercion and violence, alongwith the devolution of power into the structures of autocracy and the enactment of coercive laws, though in the name of public safety and security, only empowers the coercive institutions of state (Daily Star 2004). The casualty is not only the security of common people, but also the institutions of democracy. The formation of the RAB and the institution of Operation Clean Heart are suggestive of the failure or inability of the civil institutions to administer and control. This crisis of democracy is as much a consequence of internal maladies as it is of global and regional factors connected with terrorism, economic reforms, labour movements, small arms and drugs smuggling, and cross-border insurgencies. The second emerging scenario is what one is witnessing in Bangladesh politics today. There is a confluence of a number of forces, both violent and accommodating. Though the two major actors are not talking to each other, they are talking through other channels. Several important developments have taken place in the arena of politics, following the 21 August 2004 grenade attack. On the one hand, clear polarisation has taken place; at the same time, there are signs of accommodation. The major opposition party, the Awami League, and the left-leaning parties have formed an alliance on issues related to ousting the government and anti-fundamentalism. The government is blamed not only for its failure to provide security to the opposition and the general people, but also for harbouring fundamentalist forces



by making a ruling alliance with the Jamaat. Fundamentalist forces are widely speculated to be responsible for the sudden eruption of grenade and bomb attacks. This hard line is again marked by a degree of understanding, which was absent before. The opposition has chalked out different strategies to protest, largely due to the pressure by the left-leaning parties and also sensing the general pulse of the people. Recourse to strikes has not been adopted as the main tool of protest. Instead, mass mobilisation at the district levels along with protest marches and human chains are being organised. The opposition has also joined Parliament to protest the grenade attacks and have a general discussion on these attacks. In other words, a multi-pronged strategy has been adopted. Parliament as well as the street option are being used; whereas formerly the Parliament option was ruled out in preference for the streets and strikes. The institutionalisation of politics requires taking back politics to Parliament. On the government side, despite hard talks, there have been signs of accommodating the opposition position, even making room for their demands in Parliament. International investigation and assistance on the grenade attacks problem has also been sought. Despite this, though, the country again seems to be plunging into a quagmire. The government is under pressure from the people to act rationally and allow the functioning of society, and to improve the security situation. The opposition too is urged upon to help the process. The sustainability of the opposition alliance, or any political alliance, is under question given the divergence in their programmes and agendas. Besides, the major political parties have their eye on electoral politics. It is difficult to see them pursuing any agenda that might affect their votes. Consequently, one might observe shifting alliance patterns and partners, but alliance politics, it appears, is here to stay. The present political crisis and the resulting configuration of issues and compromises point towards a third probable and more likely scenario. The pressures from the citizens’ forums could compel political parties to compromise on their politics of confrontation. Widespread rightsbased activities by the non-governmental sector at the community level are conscientising the people. These activities are perceived as a threat to the traditional structures of power by the leadership. Consequently, one observes the rise in conservatism as well. In the name of religion and societal values, they oppose these movements and activities. From the prevailing situation, an increase in the confrontation between these forces is quite evident. But the syncretism and resistance inherent in



popular culture make it most unlikely that the people would give in to communal forces. The pressures from the international community, donors and international civil society, it is argued, is also a major force to reckon with. Civil society in Bangladesh, too, despite its polarisations, acts as a strong pressure group. Increasing confrontations and polarisations at the different layers, it is suggested, would compel the political leadership to move towards issue-based politics and people’s welfare. The polarisations and confrontations, arguably, are indicative of the failure of the state to deliver. Political parties are coming to realise and feel the pressure of people’s power, and the pressure is increasingly on them to give up their politics of confrontation and deliver. Though this is not going to happen tomorrow, but the process is under way. In the past, the military had intervened under such circ*mstances, even under much lesser pretexts, but the non-interference of the military, despite the continued deterioration of general law and order is indicative of the growing maturity of the military and also the power of the civil society. The 1991 oust-Ershad movement and the consistent refusal of civil society to accept Ershad’s legitimacy has made the military realise that civil society will not accept military rule. Under such a scenario, the continued bickering between the two major political parties is indeed ironic and sad. There is a general fatigue in the nature of politics. It has not been uncommon for the people to remark that Bangladesh should be run by non-party elements as it happens during the term of caretaker government. These are strong signals to political parties. People are searching for alternative politics, the politics of human security, accommodation and tolerance. It is expected that the political leadership will listen to and take cognisance of people’s voices, which so far they have failed to do. The trajectories for the future of democracy in Bangladesh are mixed and complex. Intense political confrontation marked by pressures from below and above, that is, within and outside, will continue. Unless political parties come to a minimum consensus, the non-state actors will appropriate the state.

CONCLUSION From the discussion, several deductions may be made about democracy and Muslim societies. The first point that comes through is that democracy is in crisis in Bangladesh not because it is a Muslim



society, but because it is a developing nation, where institutions of parliamentary democracy have not developed in the same way as in Western democracies. Second, the challenges of democracy come from within the polity as much as from outside it. Islamisation of the Bangladesh polity has been one of the forces threatening the secular structures of the state. But this has not always been done in an antidemocratic way. Coalition politics with right-wing religious parties, cultivation of the cultures of majoritarianism, and making use of electoral politics, platform and strategies as well as engaging in social mobilisation processes through Islamic institutions such as mosques and the madrasas have been ways in which this has been done. The more recent threats of Islamic terrorism have come more from external influences combined with the weakness of internal political cohesiveness in dealing with such threats. Many seem to think that the bogey of fundamentalism and terrorism is a passing phase and will not gain ground in Bangladesh soil. These are usually people who have more faith in the vibrancy of civil society movements. It is, however, not as simple as that. Just as mere strengthening of democratic institutions will not help combat this threat, movements or mobilisation processes that cannot extend the sphere of participation to the larger public cannot help either. The hopes, therefore, lie not only in the strengthening of democratic structures, but engaging participatory processes in the promotion of secular values. At the micro level, such processes are beginning to gain ground in Bangladesh. At the macro level, in the sphere of national politics, progress is indeed very slow.

NOTES 1. 2.




Char lands or chars are land formed by the sedimentation of rivers. Bikolpo Dhara was an attempt by some politicians who broke out from the BNP and allied with other forces to form a third force to the polarised bi-party politics led by the BNP and Awami League. Operation Clean Heart was a campaign started around January 2002 to establish Law and Order and uproot terrorists by the BNP government by bringing in the Armed Forces. There was much criticism by civil society and the opposition about the way the operation was actually handled and the campaign was subsequently abandoned. From the CHT, Bengali candidates are getting elected who seem to be representing more the interests of the Bengali settlers in the CHT rather than the interests of the indigenous people. The Bengali word is ‘Deyal Patrika’ which stands for hand-written articles and posters which are pasted onto a wall for the public to read.



REFERENCES Centre for Policy Dialogue. 1995. Experiences with Economic Reform: A Review of Bangladesh’s Development 1995. Dhaka: University Press. Chakravarty, S.R. (ed.). 1995. Bangladesh Under Mujib, Zia and Ershad. New Delhi: HarAnand Publishers. Daily Star. 2004. 13 September. Guhathakurta, M. 1998. ‘Sonar Bangla: Inspiration, Illusion and Extortion’. Humboldt Journal of Social Relations, 23(1 & 2): 197–217. —————. 1994. ‘The Aid Discourse and the Politics of Gender: A Perspective from Bangladesh’. The Journal of Social Studies, 65(July): 101–14. Hossain, K. Undated. ‘Urgent Need for Electoral Reform to Ensure Free and Fair Elections: Some Concrete Proposals’. Monograph, Dhaka. Ibrahim, Nilima. 1994/1995. Ami Birangona Bolchhi, Vols. 1 and 2. Dhaka: Agami Publishers. Jahan, Rounaq. 1982. ‘Women in the Politics of Bangladesh’. In H. Papanek and G. Minault (eds.), Separate Worlds: Studies in Purdah in South Asia. New Delhi: Chanakya Press. Kabeer, Naila. 1994. ‘The Quest for National Identity: Women, Islam and the State’. In D. Kandiyoti (ed.), Women, Islam and the State. London: Macmillan. Kamal, A. 2000. ‘Accountable Governance and Poverty Alleviation in Bangladesh’. Monograph, Dhaka. Khan, Zarina R. 1999. ‘NGOs and Local Government Reforms’. Paper presented in ‘Creating Development Synergies’. European Commission NGO Dialogue Workshop, March. Khan, Borhan Uddin. 1997. ‘Election Expenses: Law and Reality’, Paper presented at a seminar on ‘Election Expenses: Law and Reality’. Dhaka: Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, 16 June. Kochaneck, S. 1993. Patron–Client Politics and Business in Bangladesh. Dhaka: University Press Ltd. Reaz, A. 1994. State Class and Military Rule: Political Economy of Martial Law in Bangladesh. Dhaka: Nadi New Press. Sen, B. 1995. ‘Recent Trends in Poverty and its Dynamics’, in CPD, Experiences with Economic Reform: A Review of Bangladesh’s Development. Dhaka: CPD. Shelley, M.R. 1997. ‘Democracy on Trial: Consensus and Bi-partisanship: The Experience of Bangladesh’. Paper presented at seminar ‘Institutionalising Parliamentary Democracy in Bangladesh’, Commonwealth Society of Bangladesh, Dhaka. Sobhan, R. 1979. ‘Perspectives on Corruption’. Unpublished paper, Bergen. —————. 2002. The Evolving Economy of Bangladesh in the Age of Globalisation (BIDS Public Lecture Millenium Celebration Programme). Dhaka: BIDS. Sobhan, R. and M. Ahmed. 1979. Public Expenditure in an Intermediate Regime: A Study in the Political Economy of Bangladesh. Dhaka: BIDS.


INTRODUCTION Muslims constitute the majority in Indonesia. Indeed, it is the largest Muslim community in the world. Yet their struggle for the establishment of Indonesia as an Islamic state based on the Shari’a by constitutional as well as violent means in the form of armed rebellions has been unsuccessful since the beginning of Indonesian independence. Nonetheless, on the part of many Muslims, particularly through a number of Islamic political parties, the aspiration for an Islamic state remains alive to this day, if by less than violent means, albeit with implications involving frequent cases of violence in society. The majority of Indonesian Muslims, most of whom are moderate, seem to be powerless in preventing the growth of militant groups with their intolerance, intimidations and violent actions, particularly against nonMuslim communities in the country. After the resignation of the former President of Indonesia, Suharto, on 21 May 1998, political violence continued, riots and communal conflicts became daily occurrences. Unfortunately, religion



(besides ethnicity and race) is one element that is manipulated in different areas, including a number of discrimination cases against nonMuslims. However, at the same time, the democratisation process during the reformation era (or in the post-Suharto era) has given broader space for people to assert their religious identities more openly and expressively. Religious freedom in Indonesia exists among Muslim and nonMuslim communities. However, after the period of the 1980s, the harmony among religious communities seemed to have been eroded. Some of the disharmony was clearly manifested in the religious conflicts that exploded in Ambon (Maluku) and Poso (Central Sulawesi), although religion mostly appeared as a triggering factor and not a source of the conflicts. The implementation of democracy in Indonesia faces another obstacle, that is, massive corruption as a consequence of political and economic violence. Problems of separatism and terrorism have made the practice of democracy much more complicated. The global war against terrorism, of which Indonesia agreed to be a part, has also caused a negative impact, since Indonesia is accused of being a fertile ground for terrorism along with the growth of radical Islamic groups that have their international networks based here. Due to these networks, radical groups have caused anxiety amongst the neighbouring countries, Singapore in particular. In consequence, Indonesian standing and prestige has weakened internationally. For instance, a senior minister of Singapore accused the Indonesian government of not being able to deal with the problem of terrorism;1 that international terrorism was a security threat not only for the national security of Singapore, but also for the whole Asian region. The references to Indonesia’s inability in coping with terrorism also indicate a feeling of insecurity of a ‘small’ state like Singapore. There are many indicators that can be used to assess the practice of democracy in Indonesia, for example, using a framework from the International IDEA project called the ‘State of Democracy’, which is used to assess the process of democracy in various countries. There are two democratic principles to evaluate a country’s experience in practising democracy: (a) popular control of public decisions and decision makers; and (b) equality between citizens in relation to those decisions. The principles are realised through a set of mediating norms: those of participation, authorisation, representativeness, accountability, transparency, responsiveness and solidarity (International IDEA 2004: 1). The methodology is designed primarily as a



tool for dialogue (national agenda setting), with assessments carried out by in-country teams of experts. The next step is tracking, monitoring and assessing democracy.2 International relations is another perspective to assess democracy, especially to analyse connections between domestic/national circ*mstances and the international situation. This perspective has three different levels of analysis: individual, state and global. Individual characteristics (political leadership) as well as groups of people have significant roles in determining the democratic process. Democracy in Indonesia is a key element in world politics, not only because Indonesia has the world’s biggest Muslim community, but also because it could be used as a political bargaining tool in promoting Indonesian national interests at the international level, with foreign policy being parallel to domestic priorities. This study highlights two issues related to democracy in Indonesian Muslim society: (a) state–society relations; and (b) the problem of religious freedom. Power relations between the two major actors—the state (including the Indonesian defence and security apparatus [TNI or Tentara Nasional Indonesia] and the Indonesian police), and the society (Muslims and non-Muslim communities)—is asymmetrical, where the state remains very strong and powerful, while society is weak and powerless. The state becomes more powerful when it collaborates with the third actor—the market (businesspeople and investors). Since 1965, Indonesia has been ‘a good follower’ of global economic capitalism. This collaboration has almost closed out any chance for the people to participate in the decision-making process.

ISLAM IN INDONESIAN POLITICS In a plural society like Indonesia, the diversity of Islam is not only because of the different interpretations of the Quran, but also because of assimilation between Islam and local/traditional culture. As other Muslim communities in other places in the world, Islam has always had the colour of local culture or tradition. According to Abdelwahab El-Affendi (2003: 2): ‘The weakness of civil society in Muslim countries is ascribed by some to cultural factors, rather than to the sheer ruthlessness of regimes that did not permit society any room to maneuver: no free trade unions, no real opposition, no free press, intolerance of even a hint of dissent.’

– Islamic political parties; – Intellectuals; – Social organisations; – Religious institutions

– Nationalist political parties; – TNI (army) & Indonesian police (Polri); – Businesspeople/ conglomerates

Neutral & manipulative

State–society relations

Religious freedom Christians, Hinduists, Buddhists, others; minority in quantity, majority in economy

– Non-Islamic political parties; – Intellectuals; – Social organisations; – Religious institutions

Society (non-Muslim communities)

– Different interpretation among Muslims. – Harmony (tolerant & trustworthy) – Disharmony (intolerant, distrustful relations between Muslims & non-Muslims)

– Strong & powerful state domination. – State–market collaboration. – Discrimination policy


– Conflicts (open/manifest)

– Exploitation & corruption. – religious & communal conflicts


Note: Religious freedom as a significant element in the democratisation process shows that there is disharmony, intolerance and distrust amongst the religious people in Indonesia.

– Moderate: majority, modern, traditional – Radical: minority, fundamentalist, violent, terrorism – Liberal: minority, secular

Society (Muslim communities)

State (and market)

Indicator /issue

TABLE 2.1 Assessment of Democracy in Indonesia



Indonesia may be the only country that has different ‘faces’ of Islam. More than that, Indonesian Muslims are different from Muslims in other countries, such as Malaysia. Most of the people from these two neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia are of Malay ethnicity, but in terms of pluralism, Indonesian society is more complex as compared to Malaysia.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF ISLAM IN INDONESIA It is not easy to explain the historical background of Islam in Indonesia. There are several theories that are still debatable. The first is the theory of Snouck Hutgronje (expert on Islam).3 According to him, Islam came to Indonesia from India (Gujarat, Bengal and Malabar). His argument was that he did not see any Arabic values in Islam that the Indian Muslims brought to Indonesia during the 12th and 13th centuries. The second theory argued that Islam came to Indonesia from Iran (Parsi). This argument was based on the cultural point of view that some Islamic communities, such as in West Sumatra, had cultural similarity with Iranian culture, such as the observance of Muharram and the Tabut tradition. Both the theories were criticised by the third theory, called the Arabia theory. According to this, Islam came to Indonesia in the 7th century directly from Mecca and Medinah (Saudi Arabia). The expansion of Islam in Indonesia occurred in and outside Java through trade, marriage, acculturation, and conflict or war. Islam in Java (in Gresik and Surabaya/East Java; Kudus, Klaten and Mrapen/ Central Java; and Gunung Muria and Cirebon/West Java) developed through preaching, and there are several famous preachers, referred to as wali songo. They are Maulana Malik Ibrahim, Ampel, Bonang, Drajad, Kudus, Kalijaga, Muria, Giri, Gunung Jati, Geseng, Bayat, Prapen, Sendang and Syekh Abdullah Muih. Those who developed Islam outside Java (in Gowa, Kubu and South Kalimantan/Borneo) were Datori Bandung, Tuan Tunggan Parang and Penghulu Demak (Tripod 2005: 2). The majority of Indonesian Muslims are moderate, but ‘Islam in Indonesia is not monolithic’4 or heterogeneous. There are two major Islamic organisations—the Muhammadiyah and the NU (Nahdathul Ulama). Although most of the Muslims belong to one of the two organisations, there are also some who do not belong to



either. They ‘do not know’ or ‘do not care’ about their affiliations, but usually follow government regulations, such as in celebrating Islamic holidays. The Muhammadiyah was formed in 1912. It claimed to be the organisation of modern Muslims in urban areas. It has established the Nation Mandate Party or Partai Amanat Nasional (PAN). It was previously an open party and quite attractive, mostly for Indonesian intellectuals from different religions. However, PAN tends to be an exclusive Islamic political party at the moment. The former PAN leader was Amien Rais, former head of the Indonesian People’s Assembly. In the 2004 general elections, Rais was one of the presidential candidates (together with Siswono Yudhohusodo, his vice-presidential candidate). His party failed and he lost his chance to be president of Indonesia. The NU was established in 1926 to counter the Muhammadiyah. It also has a political party, the Awakening Nation Party or Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa (PKB). The PKB’s major supporters are traditional Muslims in rural areas. Compared to PAN, the PKB is more popular among the non-Muslim community. In the 2004 general elections, for example, the PKB got many votes in Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT), a province in eastern Indonesia where most of the population is Christian (Catholics and Protestants). Abdurrahman Wahid or Gus Dur (his famous name), the fourth president of Indonesia, was from the PKB. The NU and Muhammadiyah are different, but they are both moderate. They are against the implementation of Shari’a (Islamic law) in Indonesia. Indonesia is a democratic country (constitutional democracy), not an Islamic state, but also not a secular state. Indonesia has unique characteristics of a democracy due to the moderation of Muslims. This partly convinces non-Muslim or Western countries that Indonesia is not a threat. Paul Wolfowitz, former US ambassador to Indonesia during the Reagan administration, said: ‘Indonesia has assumed a critical role on the world stage, because Indonesia has overcome obstacles and made strides toward democracy since 20 years ago. The country has more than 300 ethnic groups and around 87 per cent of its population is Muslim, but Indonesia is not an ‘Islamic state’.5 The idea of establishing an Indonesian Islamic state started about 50 years ago. It was not realised because the Suharto regime strongly resisted it. Although this regime ruled over an authoritarian political



system, it also meant that the extremists had no space to grow. Along with the fall of the regime, and the beginning of the Reformasi era in Indonesia, especially in the period of Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur), liberation was to become a hallmark of the Indonesian politics. This was a good opportunity for the extremists to come back and propose the idea of an Islamic state in Indonesia.

ISLAMIC GROUPS IN INDONESIA Besides the two major Islamic organisations (NU and Muhammadiyah), Clifford Geertz classified Indonesian Muslims into three different groups: abangan, santri and priyayi. This classification was based on Javanese social structures. Neils Mulder, a Catholic priest, gave another classification of Muslim groups in Indonesia. He argued that it is wrong to see Indonesia as an Islamic country because there are so many groups of Muslims. He then divided the Muslim community in Indonesia into four groups: neo/new-santris, neo-revivalists, transformists and neo-modernists (Mulder 2000: 113–20). The first group or neo-santri is associated with the emergence of the new Muslim middle class that is called the ICMI (abbreviation of Ikatan Cendikiawan Muslim Indonesia or the Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals Association) (ibid.: 117–20). Former president of Indonesia (the third president), B.J. Habibie, was appointed head of the ICMI before his presidential position. The second group is classified as the neo-revivalists—Muslims who practise the ideology of Islam based on the Quran and Sunnah (ibid.: 115–16). Former editor of Tempo magazine, Goenawan Muhammad (2004: 2), called the neo-revivalists practicing the Koran dam Sunnah the revivalists or fundamentalists, who advocate a ‘return to the original faith of Islam, and to establish Darul Islam [the Abode of Peace] for a perfect future.’ Darul Islam (DI) was struggling for an Islamic state in Indonesia, but it was banned during the New Order. According to him, Indonesia was ambiguous in arguing the idea of Islamic state because Indonesia had: (a) the trauma of violence; (b) a racial identity dynamism; and (c) plurality (ibid.: 3). The transformists are the third group of Muslims in Indonesia, who are inspired by liberation theology. For this group, the most important thing is to understand the process of development and not to discuss



the Islamic teachings that people have to follow (ibid.: 116–17). Coherently, the Islamic Liberal Network (Jaringan Muslim Liberal/ JIL) in Indonesia was inspired by the idea of liberation theology. This group has been trying to develop or transform the teachings of Islam into a more liberal interpretation. According to Ulil A. Abdala, Director, JIL, the Koran (Al Quran) is passive. Therefore, it is logical if the Koran has been interpreted differently. For example, Mohammad Yusman Roy, head of an Islamic boarding school (Pondok Itikaf Jammah Nqaji Lelaku, Lawang, Malang, and some experts from IAIN, East Java, initiated shalat (Islamic praying) in the Indonesian language instead of Arabic. Roy’s initiation was based on the fact that many Muslims (ummah) do not understand meanings and readings in Arabic. The ummah would feel more comfortable in practising their faith of Islam if they know and understand the meaning in their own language. However, according to MUI (Majelis Ulama Indonesia— the Indonesian Ulama Assembly)—the initiation was illegal. After the controversial initiation, Roy contested that he was often terrorised via cellphone and physical violence. Relations between religion and democracy are ‘more serious or less serious depending upon the basic values underlying any democratic system. There always exists the option of interpreting religion in a more liberal, humanitarian, “universalist” vein that would be entirely compatible with the maintenance of stable democratic structures’ (Liebman 1997: 49–50). Besides the two Islamic organisations, there is the liberal Islamic group, the JIL, which is growing quite progressively. The JIL has a very pragmatist perspective on Islamic principles. Its emphasis on humanitarian values is very important for maintaining harmonious relations in a pluralist society like Indonesia. However, not all moderate Muslims are sympathetic to the JIL, and they were criticised because of their political inconsistency. The liberal perspective of the JIL definitely contradicts that of the radical Islamic groups. While the JIL is trying to create democratic Muslims in a peaceful sense, radical groups are creating intolerance, war and terror in the country. The fourth group is the neo-modernists, who focus more on rationalism and order to renew Muslim society. They focus on the relation between national development and education (ibid.: 113–15). Nurcholish Madjid is one of the neo-modernists in Indonesia, and he does not agree with Islamic parties regarding the idea of an Islamic state. His slogan is, ‘Islam yes, Islamic party no!’



ISLAM AND POLITICS In 2004, there were more than 15 Islamic political parties participating in the general elections in Indonesia. However, according to Syamsuddin Haris, an Indonesian political analyst, Islamic parties could not be representing the interests of all Indonesian Muslims. There were two factors—internal and external—as to why Islamic parties failed to promote Islamic interests. Regarding internal factors, Islamic leaders reflected their misconception about Muslim representation in the Indonesian political context based on historical aspects, theological issues and sociological realities. From the historical point of view, Muslims had made a significant contribution to Indonesia as an independent state since 1945. Theologically, Islam has a broad sense of all aspects of human life, including relations between state and politics. Finally, because the majority of Indonesians are Muslims, their social majority should become the political majority as well. Islamic leaders claimed to have a complete understanding of Muslim aspirations. Therefore, they had the right to act on behalf of Indonesian Muslims (Haris 2004b: 64, 66). The failure of the Islamic parties is also related to external factors, that is, a political reorientation of the Muslim community: the middle class, Islamic scholars and traditional Muslims. The New Order ‘provided’ socio-economic opportunities that the Islamic middle class could use to improve its social mobility. The Indonesian government under the dominance of Golongan Karya (or simply Golkar),6 the New Order ruling party, was responsible for high levels of economic development that benefited the Muslim community as a whole. The social mobility of Muslims did not indicate that the Islamic (middle-class) community had any strong political orientations (ibid.: 66). The 2004 general election in Indonesia was the most democratic election. The Islamic political parties that participated were: 1. PPP (United Development Party/Partai Persatuan Pembangunan); 2. PBB (Star and Crescent Party/Partai Bulan Bintang); 3. PKS (Prosperous Justice Party/Partai Keadilan Sejahtera); 4. PUI (Islamic Members’ Party/Partai Ummah Indonesia); 5. PKU (People’s Development Party/Partai Kebangkitan Umat); 6. PPIM (Masyumi Islamic Political Party/Partai Politik Islam Masyumi);



7. PIMSM (Majelis Syuro Muslimin Indonesia Party/Partai Majelis Syuro Muslimin Indonesia); 8. PSII (United Islamic Party/Partai Serikat Islam Indonesia); 9. PP (Unity Party/Partai Persatuan); 10. PID (Democratic Islamic Party/Partai Islam Demokrasi); 11. PSUN (National United Solidarity Party/Partai Solidaritas Persatian Nasional); 12. PBR (Star of Reform Party/Partai Bintang Reformasi); 13. PPPR (Reform Struggle Saviour Party/Partai Penyelamat Perjuangan Reformasi); 14. Partai Kammi (Indonesian Muslim Awakening Party/Partai Kebangkitan Muslim Indonesia); 15. PKB (National Awakening Party/Partai Kebangkitan Nasional); and 16. PAN (National Mandate Party/Partai Amanat Nasional) (Embassy of the United States 2003: 10).7 Among Islamic scholars, Islam and politics have varied and shifting relations. In order to gain political influence, Islamists do not have to emphasise and insist on forming an Islamic state in Indonesia. The traditional Muslims have also changed their orientation and ambitions. As a consequence, they lost their political domination, especially the PPP (Unity Development Party) (Haris 2004b: 67).8

INDONESIA AFTER 1998: CONTINUITY AND CHANGE Democracy in American terminology refers to freedom of speech, association and press; separation of power among executive, legislative and judicial bodies; federalism; protection of minorities, and so on. Indonesia is classified as a ‘partly free’ or ‘semi-democratic’ country. According to Freedom White Survey (2001), Indonesia was better off compared to Arabic countries, which were classified as undemocratic. This classification is probably irrelevant when it refers to the authoritarian system under the New Order regime, which governed Indonesia for more than 30 years (1965–98). The asymmetrical relation between the (strong) state and (weak) society is possible or significant where the Muslims can show their responsibilities or be part of the



democratic process in Indonesia as the largest Muslim society in the world. What is the significance of Islamic values (Islamic political parties) in the Indonesian political system?

THE NEW ORDER POLITICAL LEGACY Democracy is not a new term in Indonesian politics. It has been adopted in politics several times, although not in the same way. Historically, the democratic system was to be implemented: (a) after the independence of Indonesia in 1945 until 1950 (parliamentary democracy); (b) under Sukarno’s presidency (the Old Order regime) until 1965 (guided democracy); and (c) under Suharto’s presidency (the New Order regime; demokrasi Pancasila). Guided democracy failed because of Sukarno’s idea to constitute nationalism (nasionalisme), religion (agama) and communism (komunisme), or NASAKOM (Nasionalisme, Agama dan Komunis). Islamic leaders primarily rejected the idea of NASAKOM because of the contradiction between Islam and communism. NASAKOM became a boomerang for Sukarno. He was labelled as a communist because he was too close to the Indonesian Communist Party (Partai Komunis Indonesia). His popularity decreased drastically and caused the end of his presidency. Suharto replaced him and became the second president of Indonesia in 1965. Since that time, Suharto adopted Pancasila (Demokrasi Pancasila) until his resignation in mid-1998. The Pancasila is a very comprehensive idea. It embraces five principles: (a) belief in one God; (b) humanity; (c) unity of Indonesia; (d) democracy; and (e) social justice. Demokrasi Pancasila was meant to be a special model for Indonesian democracy. However, Pancasila was misused as a political tool to suppress any opposition agenda that was against the New Order regime. Demokrasi Pancasila was a very effective political tool to govern Indonesia, in particular regarding the opposition. No political expression and criticism could be addressed to the authoritarian government. Although Indonesia seemed to be more stable and secure, the state was very repressive. Under the New Order, the state had two deadly instruments to deal with anti-state or anti-government action. The first was ‘SARA’—an abbreviation of suku = ethnicity, ras = race and agama = religion. The second was being labelled a communist. These political instruments did create insecurity and fear within the society.



Feelings of insecurity increased almost everywhere. Psychologically, people were prone to prejudices and suspicions, and were distrustful of each other. The slogan ‘diversity in unity’ (bhinneka tunggal ika) was no more than political propaganda; diversity never created unity. Diversity clearly illustrated many different potential conflicts based on ethnicity, race and religion. In relation to power, religion was definitely being manipulated as the political vehicle of the regime. The ongoing socio-political conflicts in many different places in Indonesia, such as in Ambon, did not happen immediately. They were orchestrated systematically. The New Order intensely maintained potential issues, such as socio-economic gaps between local people and transmigrants, which usually brought about horizontal conflicts. After the fall of the New Order in mid-1998, Indonesia entered a new political era called the Reformation Era or Era Reformasi. Reformasi is also known as the era of democratisation. At the beginning, there were big expectations that Indonesia would become a democratic country by forcing the authoritarian regime under the New Order to resign from the political arena. However, even after more than seven years, there were several difficulties in implementing democracy. But the 2004 general election was successfully held and was relatively free from violence.9 Unfortunately, political violence continues. The May 1998 riots, the bomb blasts in churches during the vigil masses of Christmas in 2000 in Jakarta, and the assassination of religious leaders are some examples, including the case of Munir, an Indonesian human rights activist, who was murdered on his flight from Indonesia to the Netherlands on 7 September 2004. The investigation team did not provide a clear explanation about the incident. Although the reason for all the violence has not been declared yet, there are a couple of speculations. The first is to create instability. The aim is to oppose a number of corruption trials, which are addressed to the New Order regime and cronies, by anti-democracy groups. Lack of political will obviously lost the state an opportunity to deal with the problems. The second is related to the first: the return of Suharto’s cronies to power (Utama 2000: 4). Recently, the Golkar Party10 asked for a cabinet reshuffle to add more ministers from the party. This indicated that the New Order wanted to return. To use Noam Chomsky’s (1993) statement, Indonesia is going to look like ‘an old wine in a new bottle’, if the Golkar Party gets more positions in the



cabinet (Kabinet Indonesia Bersatu). An authoritarian model that the New Order has always used is predicted to be back once again. The Indonesian military (Tentara Nasional Indonesia/TNI), particularly the army (Angkatan Darat/AD), is another ‘political institution’ that has a very significant influence in the Indonesian political system. To what extent has Islam (religion) been manipulated for the sake of political and economic interests? To what extent has the TNI divided Indonesia? It perpetuates the dominant security approach in dealing with political and social conflicts in Indonesia. It has seriously been charged in many human rights’ violation cases, such as in the May 1998 riots in Jakarta, which caused the death of several university students in the Semanggi tragedy. The case is unfortunately still unclear in terms of the legal process. In order to remove the dominant power of the TNI, its dual security and socio-political functions have slowly shifted to its primary function of running the defence and security apparatus. However, in reality, the TNI has problems in its involvement with the business sector, particularly in conflict areas such as in Aceh, Maluku and Papua. There is also competition between the TNI and the Indonesian police (Polri). After the separation of the Polri from the TNI, it seems that the former is the more appropriate body to be blamed for its inability to terminate the circle of political violence and maintain domestic security. The military or security approach is widely criticised as incapable of restoring peace and order in Indonesia. However, it remains impossible to force the military to keep out of politics altogether. Primarily, this is because of the authoritarian values of militarism: ‘blind obedience, dependent upon elitism and dehumanising or feeling brutalizing’ (Wright and Augarde 1990: 25–26). The military is set up as a government vehicle, providing support to the regime rather than security functions for the nation. This is because the political elite was never concerned with moral principles or political ethics (ibid.: 145). The nexus between elitism and militarism is widespread, and it is responsible for political movements as well as political violence and abuse of human rights in Indonesia.

THE PROBLEM OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM Indonesia is a pluralist society in terms of ethnicity, race and religion. Officially, there are five major religions in Indonesia: Islam,



Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism and Hinduism. In 2004, the Indonesian population was 238,452,952, the majority of them Muslims (177,528,772). Protestants accounted for 11,820,075, Catholics 6,134.902, Hindus 3,651,939, Buddhists 1,694,628, and others 411,629.11 Indonesia has successfully maintained harmony between different religious and ethnic communities, primarily because Indonesian Muslims are quite tolerant of other religions and traditional values or customs. However, relations have never been absolutely free from political, economic and social conflicts. Inter-religious and communal conflicts became common phenomena in Indonesia after the resignation of Suharto. There is no province free of any kind of violence or conflict. Until the beginning of the 1990s, Indonesian society was fairly tolerant of various religions. However, at the end of the 1980s, and, in particular since 1998, relations amongst Indonesians have been increasingly hostile. Many cases of discrimination and intolerance have appeared among religious and ethnic communities. Riots and communal and violent conflicts are easily triggered, as in Ambon (Maluku) and Poso (Central Sulawesi). After the ‘fall’ of the Suharto regime, democracy (as a principle and in practice) was supposed to have been made possible in Indonesia, but a weak and corrupt government (lack of transparency and accountability) meant that Indonesia failed to enforce tolerance and freedom (of thought, expression and speech), the essential values of democracy. Although in the reformation era Indonesia has already had four presidential terms—B.J. Habibie (1998–99); Abdurrahman Wahid (1999–2000); Megawati Sukarnoputri (2000–2004); and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (since 2004)—many problems remain unresolved, such as the ongoing political violence, massive corruption, and socio-economic exploitation. The ongoing social and political conflicts seem impossible to terminate. The Suharto cronies (pro status quo) were mostly blamed as the troublemakers, including the military. But what about the Islamic groups? Did they collaborate with the military in creating conflict? There are some possible connections between the pro status quo and the Muslim groups because both have their own political agenda. The status quoists who were assumed to be its main supporters temporarily lost political power. In order to regain it, certain groups within the



military and several (former) generals orchestrated domestic instability by providing financial support and ammunition to the radical Islamic groups, such as the Laskar Jihad in Ambon, Poso and Papua. On the other hand, the radical groups want to establish an Islamic state in Indonesia. Though the establishment of an Islamic state is not easy, the idea has been used to gain political support for Islamic leaders and their agenda. Amin Rais, for instance, benefited from the Ambon conflict by garnering sympathy from Islamic groups, which was partly his strategy to run for the presidency. He gave a rousing speech in Jakarta before the departure of Laskar Jihad for the Holy War or jihad in Ambon. Rais is a prominent leader of the second-biggest Islamic group in Indonesia, the Muhammadiyah, which is supported by the Islamic middle class. He also mobilised Islamic forces under the Middle Access group at the national level by orchestrating the presidential election for Gus Dur, the head of the NU, who became the fourth Indonesian president in October 1999. The election of Megawati in July 2001 was the other political scenario that he created. At the moment, the PKS, the leading Islamic party in the last general election, has a chance to promote the implementation of Shari’a in Indonesia. Former leader of the PKS, Hidayat Nur Wahid, who is now the head of the MPR (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat or People Assembly), changed the name of the Jakarta Charter to Medinah Charter. In the Jakarta Charter it is compulsory for the Muslims to adopt the Shari’a. This part was strongly rejected not only by non-Muslims, but also by moderate Muslims in Indonesia. However, the PKS intends to adhere to its stand in parliament. Jan Aritonang (2004), an Indonesian Protestant priest, pointed out some crucial issues and policies regarding a meeting between Christianity and Islam in Indonesia at the present time—civil society, Shari’a law, district autonomy, and regulation of the national education system. District autonomy or otonomi daerah is an unfinished process. As part of the decentralisation process, it covers rights to govern districts administratively and politically. Some provinces do have administrative autonomy, but politics is a different question. However, in the case of Papua (eastern Indonesia), district autonomy failed to be implemented both administratively and politically. The government of Indonesia delivered ‘special autonomy’ for the Papuans in 2001 under national regulation—Act No. 21/2001. It is the best alternative for the



Papuans in order to manage the province autonomously. However, the special autonomy did not satisfy the Papuans who struggle for independence. In a democratic country, the state policy is to protect minorities. As the biggest religion in Indonesia, Islam has to be able to protect minority groups directly or indirectly. However, in many cases, non-Muslims, in particular Christians, have to be more tolerant than the majority. It is partly a reflection of the fear of the minorities, and also lack of assertive action to express their identities. Discrimination and intolerance in terms of religion still happen in Indonesia, for instance: 1. It is difficult to get permission to build places of worship. For building churches, Christians mostly have to follow a long and complicated procedure, particularly in Muslim-dominated areas. However, in Christian areas, such as in Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT), there were cases where Muslims found it difficult getting permission to build mosques. One Catholic school in West Jakarta called Sang Timur was shut down due to a misunderstanding between the school and church committee, and the local people (the Muslims). Gus Dur had tried to negotiate with them, but the case has not been resolved yet. According to Frans M. Suseno, a Catholic priest in Jakarta, the problem in getting permission is because of a government regulation related to the Surat Kesepakatan Bersama (SKB)—a letter that consists of a statement and at least 20 signatures from locals that they agree to have a religious building within their areas. Each committee has to procure it before getting building permission from local government unit/authority. 2. Indonesia, as the biggest Islamic country in the world, has had communal conflict between the Muslims (majority) and the Christians (minority) since the early 1970s. Christmas was previously celebrated for two days and became a national holiday. It has been changed to a one-day celebration based on the Indonesian national calendar. Certain Muslim groups are not allowed to greet Christians during Christmas. They consider it as haram (prohibited) because the Christians are kafir (unbelievers). However, there are some Muslims who still greet Christians in private. 3. Identity cards have a column for religion. People who would ordinarily identify themselves as atheists now mostly choose



Islam as their religion. This reflects on population data, which is being manipulated to show an increasing number of Muslims, and that the majority of the Indonesian population remains Muslim. 4. Implementation of Shari’a law has resulted in problems of discrimination against women and of religious freedom for nonMuslims. It is hard to imagine that the implementation is free from force, in particular from the radical perspective. Although Deliar Noor, a prominent Indonesian Muslim intellectual, is convinced that every Muslim favours the Islamic state, it does not make sense from the gender perspective. Muslim women are more disadvantaged, for example, in a rape case. In order to prove guilt, the victim has to have at least four men as witnesses, which is quite a ridiculous requirement. Moreover, former leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Hashim Salamat,12 argued that there are no two Islamic states with the same characteristics, as stated in the Quran. This meant that it is almost impossible to think of establishing an Islamic state everywhere in the world, not even building a democratic country. In other words, if a country claimed that it is an Islamic country, it must be different from other Islamic countries. Discrimination against women and people of certain ethnicities also occur: 1. Women’s leadership and political participation remains controversial. In the decision-making process in the Indonesian Parliament, women representatives have had to fight for every single regulation related to gender and women’s issues. For example, implementing marriage laws allowing women to marry at the age of 17 years, not 14. In the case of inter-religious marriages, especially for a non-Muslim man who wants to marry a Muslim woman, they only have two choices: get married abroad or convert. 2. The Chinese in Indonesia have the freedom to celebrate the Confucian new year since the Wahid (Gus Dur) administration. Anti-Chinese sentiments manifested in the May riot in 1998 when Chinese properties were attacked brutally, and many Chinese women and girls were raped. There was no clear figure about how many had been raped during the riots.



INDONESIAN DEMOCRACY: DYNAMICS AND CHALLENGES Democracy in Indonesia failed in dealing with several issues: the first is protection of minorities because the state has discriminative policies politically and economically. The second is dealing with communal and political conflicts. Both central and local governments have not been able to resolve these problems and create peace and order permanently. The third is terminating terrorist acts by radical groups. There is lack of integrated policy and action in handling this case. Democracy is difficult to implement as Islam has too many different interpretations. It is also difficult to formulate a political agenda because of the deep diversity within Islam. The growth of Muslims has quantitatively increased. This then makes Islam deal with more problems, particularly in a critical situation or in conflict. In the context of Indonesian politics, which is unable to deal with political disharmony, it is not easy to unite the Islamic groups. It is also difficult to gain international solidarity and support from the Arab world. Although Indonesian Muslims mostly believe that Arab is synonymous with Islam, religious solidarity does not get automatically established. This was very clear in the context of violent conflict between the Muslim and Christian communities in Ambon (Maluku) and Poso (Central Sulawesi). Most humanitarian assistance that came to the conflict areas was mostly from Western countries (governments, NGOs, including churches such as the Uniting Church), but this was possibly international Christian solidarity to the local Christian community in both places. This was also the case in the aftermath of the tsunami in Aceh (on 26 December 2004), that humanitarian solidarity first came from the Western countries and due to wider Christian solidarity. Certain Christian groups attempted to use the situation to convert Acehnese to Christianity. After around a month, it became a ‘battle between religions in Aceh’.

RELIGIOUS CONFLICT IN INDONESIA Politically, the Muslim world is deeply divided on the question of secularism (El-Affendi 2003: 2). This condition has advantages as well as disadvantages for Muslims. In a normal (peaceful) situation, Islam



could easily and quickly develop because it does not need to adhere to a certain hierarchy. The Muslim population of the world has approximately reached the strength of 1 billion, including Indonesian Muslims. On the contrary, the Christian population is decreasing because of the conservatism of Christianity in many places, except in Poland, the Philippines and most Latin American countries. Religions or belief systems contain seeds of violence, which often trigger off inter-religious conflicts. The peaceful principle of religion is irrelevant when it has to deal with politics because it is closely associated with power struggle. Oversimplification of the definition of politics tends to permit political unfairness and anomalies. Money politics, impeachment motions and people’s power movements are usually orchestrated just in the name of the struggle for power. Religion is then an effective vehicle to be manipulated to gain political interests. The term power is linked with coercion, force and influence. Politics, in the true sense of the term, does not have a positive connotation. Realism relates power with the capability (possession) and relationships to gain more influence. When religion is manipulated for power, the affiliation of religion as the source of conflict is impossible to be ignored. Secularism distinguishes a more proper description of state and religion. However, secularism fails to differ state from religion when religion is abused by politics. Secularism is unable to eliminate conflicts because religious ideas could not strictly be separated from the bases of state behaviour. Indonesian politics after the Suharto era is full of communal conflict in some provinces, but before the 1990s, relations between religious communities were quite good. The conflict between Muslims and Christians in the city of Ambon in eastern Indonesia happened five years ago. The escalation of violence in places such as Poso in Central Sulawesi and the capital city, Jakarta, are other examples. Religious conflicts are mostly based on political claims for national or neo-national identity, and acts of terror. Inter-religious relations slowly changed to inter-religious conflicts, in particular in the early part of the reformation era until the end of 2002. The nuance of interreligious conflicts was no longer the major problem after several conflict management programmes have been conducted, which could help the communities realise that symbols of religion have been manipulated to trigger conflict among them. Although conflict in the name of religion did reduce, acts of terror remain.



Another problem in Indonesia (and most possibly in other places, too) is that Islam has not always been able to mingle with the local culture or tradition. In Poso, for example, the local people, both Muslims and Christians, have great respect for their local culture, called Pamona. Muslims called themselves Muslims Pamono to differentiate them from other Muslims communities outside of Poso. During the conflict, they formed a forum for providing better communication among the indigenous Muslims, called the Forum Komunikasi Muslim Asli Poso (or Communication Forum of the Poso Indigenous Muslims). In order to prevent their community from any external threats or provocation, they also wished to form a communication forum among the youth called the Forum Komunikasi Pemuda Asli Poso (or Communication Forum of the Poso Indigenous Youth).13 Conflict as the biggest consequence of religious disharmony had little impact in Papua. This area is relatively free from religious conflict because Papuans place traditional values over religion. This is why the Laskar Jihad (Holy Troops) who came to Papua (Fakfak) after the communal conflicts in Ambon failed to provoke the people. According to a journalist in Manokwari (a capital city of Irian Jaya Barat Province), both Muslims and Christians adhere more to the local culture, especially to what their traditional leaders say.14 During the Ambon conflict, there were two groups that were suspected because of their involvement in the conflict: the Republic of South Maluku (Republik Maluku Selatan or RMS) and the Sovereignty Forum of Maluku (Forum Kedaulatan Maluku or FKM), which was often identified as the pro-Christian group (also called the Troops of Christ or Laskar Kristus). The opinion was strongly rejected. According to Reverend. I.W.J. Hendrik, head of the Maluku Protestant Church (Ketua Sinode Gereja Protestan Maluku or GPM), the RMS and its movement no longer exists in Maluku (Ambon Express 2003). His statement aimed to abolish prejudice among the Muslims, who believed that Ambon city had almost been under the domination of the RMS. Based on the statement of the Head of Maluku Protestant Church/ Gereja Protestan Maluku, Kyai Haji Ali Fauzi, Head of Badan Imarah Muslim Maluku (BIMM), the Muslims were convinced that RMS was not synonymous with Christians. Furthermore, Muhamad Attamimi Mag. (Magister of Religion), after his inauguration as the head of Sekolah Tinggi Agama Islam Negeri (STAIN), Ambon, urged Muslims to stop blaming Christians as part of the separatist movement of the RMS (Suara Maluku 2003a).



The RMS was blamed for the Ambon conflict because of their idea of building an independent state in Maluku. But according to some sources in Ambon, the RMS has no more power because the young generation is not as idealistic as the old generation, who mostly stay in the Netherlands. They deliver financial support to a limited number of their supporters in Ambon. The matter of the RMS was blown out of proportion due to its annual anniversary on 25 April. In 2003, for instance, the existence of the RMS was associated with the political event of the election of the governor and vice-governor in Maluku. According to Yance Rumteh, a youth from Maluku Tenggara (southeast Maluku) in Ambon, the RMS created fear in society, and this caused a delay in the election process from June to August 2003 (Harian Umum Siwalima 2003). Furthermore, Amir Hamzah, a member of the Malino working groups15 argued that the governor’s election would depend on political will of the local parliament. The other reason was that the Malino delegates— where he was also one of the members—wanted to reconcile until the election process (Suara Maluku 2003b). Most people did not know about the Malino working groups, or that, when the election had to be postponed, it was because of political deals among the Malino delegates, local parliament and running candidates. The conflict in Ambon has a regional dimension. The Moro people (Muslim groups in Mindanao, the Philippines) illegally delivered weapons from Mindanao for the ‘Holy War’ in Ambon, Maluku. Because the Moros are Muslims, there was public opinion that the weapons were automatically supplied for the local Muslim group in Ambon. However, there was an opinion that the Philippines, as a predominantly Catholic country, has solidarity with the local Christian community in Ambon, so the ‘illegal’ weapons possibly were for them. There is no evidence or data regarding the transactions. They were covered up on purpose and backed up or mediated by people from the Indonesian navy.16 The possibility of illegal trade exists because geographically Ambon, north Maluku, is close to Mindanao in southern Philippines. The inter-religious conflict and the Islamic groups projected a radical image of Indonesian Muslims. It was at the cost of Indonesian democracy. It is true that Indonesia is unable to practise democracy because of the radicals, but a weak government is the real major factor. Many observers believe that the civil wars are not purely about religious issues. However, symbols of religion have been manipulated successfully to gain political interest. Beside their peaceful principles,



religions have the seeds of violence, which can be exploited due to intolerance. The conflicts have affected the national integrity of the two countries (Indonesia and the Philippines). Armed conflicts cause problems of domestic political stability, which has significantly hindered economic activities. Since both countries have already problems of poverty, political instability exacerbates their difficulties. Furthermore, gun smuggling (from the Philippines to Indonesia) sustains the local movements. If the Koran is literally interpreted, it will receive criticism or rejection from the moderates and definitely from the liberals. Although the extreme groups are still able to express their ideas, they also have to consider the concept of religious freedom that has to be respected in a plural society like Indonesia. Any kind of intimidation and intolerance will undermine the meaning of freedom. The growth of the extremist/ radical Islamic groups makes the portrait of Indonesian Muslims more colourful. On the other hand, they are partly the source of much discrimination and intolerance, particularly those who get support from the Indonesian defence and security apparatus, such as the Islamic Defender Front (Front Pembela Islam/FPI) and Laskar Jihad.17 There is no simple way to deal with the ongoing inter-religious conflicts. However, the use of force is no longer relevant, because more violence results as a response. The values of freedom, justice and peace, in which pacifists believe, provide solutions through non-violence (Wright and Augarde 1990: 12). The Indonesian government tried to restore peace and order through a special programme called ‘Go to the East’ during the Suharto era. Discrimination policies are the other factors that cause problems of inequality, both in Indonesia and the Philippines. Indonesia also has the problem of development disparities between the west (developed area) and the east (underdeveloped area). Basically, development programmes are meant to bridge the gap between poor and rich areas. However, inadequate physical infrastructure, communication and other economic facilities hinder the process. The private sector is much more interested in running their businesses in the rich areas. However, a more prejudiced point of view states that the gap was intentionally set up in order to keep the regions from opposing the central government. The idea of federation was taboo. The blueprint of decentralisation has never been implemented. If done, it was just administrative, but not political. Dissatisfaction has been growing for years, and the gap has created deep-rooted problems of poverty. However, the people had no means to complain about



issues such as corruption, nepotism and collusion during the Suharto administration. In dealing with conflicts in some areas in Indonesia, the military or security approach remains dominant. This has added to the long list of human rights abuse by the Indonesian military and police apparatus. Political violence is rife in Indonesia, and the victims are innocent citizens with no direct connection to the reasons behind the conflict. Unfortunately, the media (local, national and inernational) covers such events based more on religious sentiment rather than fact, and fails to make any distinction between ‘religious motives’ and criminal attributes (ibid.: 1). During 1998–2003, the national and international media covering inter-religious conflicts in Indonesia succeeded in creating a negative image about the fighting between the two religious communities (Muslim and Christian). However, it was not only about religion. They were just the smallest parts of the whole communal and violent conflicts in Indonesia. It could easily be proven when the ongoing conflict happened again this time with different motives—political and economic. In truth, the two religious groups allegedly involved had no problems with each other. Lack of education and socio-economic capacity hinder the democratisation process in Indonesia. However, limited education is not always behind a radical and militant person. If riots occur, it is commonplace for people to think that they were orchestrated, with supporters being mobilised mostly from the less-educated classes by offering them financial incentives. The question is: who mobilises them? Are they smarter or more stupid than the supporters? Although there is no clear indication of the intellectual capacity of the mobilisers of the riots, it is logical to assume that the person behind the scenes must be someone very intelligent. In most cases, very few such criminal masterminds are captured and produced in court. Another problem regarding the way people organise crimes, riots or conflicts is if they use the constitutional way (constitutional fundamentalist such as violent conflicts and acts of terror).

THE PROBLEM OF SEPARATISM AND TERRORISM Religion and ethnicity have been manipulated several times in armed and communal conflicts in Indonesia, such as the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka/GAM) and the Free Papuan



Organisation (Organisation Papua Merdeka/OPM). Separatist movements in Aceh and Papua are critical issues that could potentially disintegrate Indonesian nationalism. However, the problem has no direct correlation with religion. The word ‘separatism’ is a political tool to stigmatise any person or groups of people who disagree with the national government in Indonesia. The reformation era brought both advantages and disadvantages to the future of conflict resolution in Indonesia. Majority Indonesians understand that religion was manipulated in many conflicts, but it does not mean that the conflicts are over. It is because reformation, which is synonymous with the democratic era in Indonesia, has caused the appearance of radical groups and anti-government movements, such as in Aceh and Papua. In the history of Islam, militancy or terrorism happened several times after the death of Prophet Mohammad. Under the leadership of Ali, implementation of Islam was literal and sometimes irrational in terms of the concept of peace. An imam (religious leader) could be killed if his teaching was different from Ali’s interpretation. Therefore, there were several caliphs (Islamic leaders) during that period who were killed (stabbed or hacked), such as Umar Ibn al-Khattab, Uthman, Marwan Ibn al-Hakam, Umar Ibn Abd al-Aziz and Al-Wahid Ibn Yazid (Mernissi 2002: 29–30). According to Edward Said, fundamentalist groups account for 5 per cent of Muslims of the world, who number about 1 billion. ‘Muslim fundamentalism is harmful first of all to Islam itself ’ (Said 1997: 1). Fundamentalism is not identical to radicalism, but its manifestion is partly militant or radical. In the context of democracy, although Islam promotes humanitarian aspects or no longer focuses only on the literal interpretations of Islamic thoughts, the radical interpretation remains relevant, especially for certain groups. Unfortunately, terrorism is associated with the manifestation of radical Islam. Indonesian national policy has never been without dynamism in world politics and economy. The global agenda for terrorism, for instance, has pushed Indonesia to be involved in the war against terrorism. Although Indonesian Muslims are mostly moderate, the government seems to be powerless to protect the people from the brutality of terrorist acts. The radical groups are mostly addressed as Islamic groups, and in a more specific sense are linked to Jamaah Islamiyyah (or simply JI), which is affiliated with Al-Qaeda. This is why Indonesia is labelled as a source of terrorism in Southeast Asia.



Terrorist groups in Indonesia are assumed to have links to Al-Qaeda and JI. ‘Muslim scholars have suggested that the government and Muslim organisations should take concrete action to counter the “terrorists’ hotbed” stigma attached to Indonesia, because Islam is not equal to violence, according to religious leader Solahuddin Wahid’ (Lubis 2002: 1) Solahuddin Wahid or Gud Solah is the older brother of the former president of Indonesia, Gus Dur. Media coverage of terrorist acts makes it difficult for people to think that Islam is a peaceful religion. Indonesia as the most populous Muslim country also gets bad publicity as the hotbed of terrorism. The majority of moderate Muslims in Indonesia seem powerless in countering this. The perspective of the neo-realists has the most relevance since the September 11 tragedy in 2001 (see Table 2.2). The issue of terrorism has mostly dominated the structure of the international agenda. The United States has made a case for justifying combating terrorism. Together with its allies, the US has expanded its military operations in TABLE 2.2 Realist and Neo-realist Perspectives Realism


Key units

Independent states

The international system’s structure

Core concern

War and security

Struggle for position and power under anarchy

Major approach

Balance of power

Balance of terror, military preparedness and deterrence

Outlook on global prospects



Motives of actor

National interests: zero-sum competition, security and power

Power, prestige and advantage (relative gains) over other states

Central concepts

Structural anarchy, power, Structural anarchy, national interests, balance rational choice and of power and polarity arms race


Increases national power and resists reduction of national autonomy

Preserves nuclear deterrence, and avoids disarmament and super-national organisations



the Philippines—the second front against terrorism in Southeast Asia. The US has clearly been facing the issue by conducting war against terrorism, in particular, to combat the JI. The global policy has been packaged in a more formal form under the UN Security Council resolution, but the core concern is to legitimise US military operations for political power and position. The global policy on terrorism has been underway since 2003, but there is no winner and loser since neither the US nor the terrorists want to give up, as both are benefiting from the struggle for their own power and prestige. Realists and neo-realists are pessimistic about the future of world politics if state (and non-state) actors act persistently in an anarchical manner. In other words, the US and the JI have been aggressive militant opponents by conducting terror in different ways. The existence of the separatist movements and JI activities in Southeast Asia can been seen from three different levels of analysis: individual, state and global.

Individual Level of Analysis This refers to the ‘personal characteristics of humans, including average citizens whose behaviour has important political consequences, and those responsible for making important decisions on behalf of state and non-state actors’ (ibid.: 12). In the case of the separatist movements in Indonesia, the Aceh and Papua leaders have the ability to influence state policy, although they are minority groups in terms of ethnicity. Hasan Tiro, leader of the GAM, was able to force the Indonesian government to negotiate with them.

State Level of Analysis This analysis consists of the authoritative decision-making units that govern states’ foreign policy processes and the internal attributes of those states, which both shape and constrain leaders’ foreign policy choices. Pro and contra opinions over terrorism in Indonesia few years ago was a good example to show to what extent the politicians understood the issue and how the political mechanism or decision-making process was conducted in dealing with different opinions, especially on the issue of terrorism. Former vice-president Hamzah Haz previously denied the existence of terrorism in Indonesia. His statement was



contradicted by General Hendropriyono, who announced that the Al-Qaeda network was active in Poso, Central Sulawesi. After the Bali bomb blast, the Department of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia finally asked the UN to put the JI on the international terrorist list. Lack of knowledge about terrorism, lack of coordination, and low political interests among the elite are several factors responsible for the incompetence of the state to formulate proper policy.

Global Level of Analysis The global level of analysis refers to interactions of state and nonstate global actors whose behaviours ultimately shape the international political system, and the level of conflict and cooperation that characterise world politics. Al-Qaeda and the JI have affected most South-East Asian countries, first, because of the US political propaganda in ‘promoting’ terrorists as global monsters. ‘What we want to say is that the world of Islam is vaster and the faults of Islam are often the faults of the West’ (International Fides Service 1999). Singapore, for example, has been very nervous about Islamic militancy because of three main factors: (a) the presence of a sizeable Muslim population in Singapore; (b) being essentially located close to large Muslim countries—Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Thailand; and (c) not being able to escape developments at the global level—that is, the view of the Western world on political (militant) Islam in the Middle East and its impact upon Singapore (ibid.: 209–10). Both Christianity and Islam are imported religions to Indonesia. Therefore, they have emotional links with their original places, for instance, Indonesian Christians with European or America, while Indonesian Muslims with the Arab world. Consequently, when interreligious conflicts happen in Indonesia, solidarity and sympathy (or even empathy) suddenly comes from the international religious communities of each group. When a superpower like USA starts treating Islamic fundamentalists as the enemy, religious conflicts in several different areas is seen in the framework of West versus Islam. Therefore, it is unrealistic to ignore the relations between religion and political movements in Indonesia only from the internal point of view. The World Trade Center (WTC) tragedy proved the prejudice, lack of respect and disharmony between Islam and Christianity. The WTC attack was a symbol of



anti-America and Americans‚worship‚Christianity, while the attackers were identified as followers of Islam. Although Islamic fundamentalists are not always the same people as terrorists, many still find it difficult to think in a more positive or neutral way towards them. Politically, Saudi Arabia, as the foremost Islamic country in the world, has been intensely undemocratic, neglecting its people, education and technological development. The Saudi government, for example, is one of the Arab countries that purchases weapons from Western countries, especially from the USA. Together with other Arab countries, they constitute around 40 per cent of the weapons trade in the world. The fact that Saudi Arabia has ‘close’ political relations with the Western world should be a positive reflection on other Islamic countries, anti-American as well as Indonesian, that face problems and have to deal with anti-American groups/movements. Table 2.2 helps understand realism and neo-realism in relation to world politics, in which the JI movement is one of the terrorists (Kegley and Wittkopf 1999: 40).

THE FUTURE OF DEMOCRACY IN INDONESIA Indonesia still needs to ‘learn’ democracy, but good, clean governance would be necessary for the success of the democratisation process. The political and economic crisis is because of a weak and corrupt government. Islam has nothing to do with the failure of Indonesian democracy, partly because Islamic politics has never had a significant role in the Indonesian political system. Indonesian politics after the Suharto era was coloured by violent and communal conflicts in some provinces. These conflicts are mostly based on political claims for national or neo-national identity, and acts of terror. The implementation of democratic values in Islamic countries has become one of the central issues in international politics. Indonesia as the most populous Muslim country in Asia has been important in order to study the implementation of democratic values together with Islamic values, which are sometimes seen to be incompatible (Azra 2001a, 2001b). Pancasila could probably be the best tool to assess the practice of democracy because it consists of democratic values and human rights.



But Indonesia also needs to refer to the international standard, particularly the United Nations Charter in implementing democratisation and human rights. The democracy framework could prove a useful guide for the political assessment of civic education, policy advocacy, democracy dialogue, and training and teaching.18 The insignificant role of Islamic politics is an important reason why the idea of the Islamic state is not so popular in Indonesia. Although the radical Islamic groups will never stop supporting the establishment of an Islamic state, it is an impossible task because Muslims in Indonesia have already rejected the idea. Nevertheless, in a democratic environment, Muslims are supposed to have a chance to express their ideas, but at the same time it will be a handicap for practising democracy, not only for Muslims, but for all Indonesians. Democratisation has to include participation of all within Indonesian society, although the moderate Islamic group has the biggest responsibility in harmonising Islam and democracy (modernity). Some difficulties would primarily come from the radical groups, which interpret and implement the compatibility of Islam and democracy in an extremist manner. Political discrimination is the main reason for the problems. Economic disparities cause social conflict between the rich and the poor. Poverty is nearly impossible to cope with, especially if there is political instability. Inadequate physical infrastructure contributes to the lack of trade and foreign investment activities. Limited access to education, health and social security are other serious issues that are shaking the national integrity of both Indonesia and the Philippines. The government of Indonesia has to be able to control the military and police. It needs to shift the security approach to political and cultural approaches, particularly in dealing with communal conflicts and separatist movements. The ongoing political crisis in Indonesia, which followed financial and economic crisis in mid-1997 (The Asian Crisis), is because of the tremendous impact from the authoritarian system under the Suharto regime for more than 30 years. The authoritarian regime resulted in a weak government, unable to deal with rampant corruption, communal and violent conflicts, economic disparity and exploitation, and political and social discrimination. All these problems have nothing to do with political Islam since it does not command any significant influence in the Indonesian political system. However, Islam has been manipulated as a political vehicle for the power struggle.



Along with political dynamics at the international level, in particular after the 9/11 tragedy, Islam in Indonesia has had to confront hostility owing to the label of terrorism associated with it. The stigma is linked to the growing Islamic militant groups in Indonesia, although radical groups have been trying to fight for an Islamic state since the 1950s. Some alternatives in creating peace are through dialogues and education. Open and regular dialogues and long process of education would be able to change people’s minds and behaviour to be more peaceful. Religious leaders have to seriously avoid hate messages. The potential conflict of religion needs to be reduced by promoting the concept of humanism to increase tolerance and respect among religious communities. Informal/religious leaders seem to have the biggest responsibility to educate the people about tolerance and trust within and among others. According to Father Magnis Suseno (2000), in order to get out of the trap, there are some conditions that need to be considered: ‘Religious leaders have to stop all kinds of hate messages. The majority religion has to be responsible for the safety, freedom and happiness of the minority religion. While minorities, on the other hand, should be aware of and sensitive towards the customs, the religious feeling and also the anxieties of the majority.’ Both religions have to be criticised and need to correct themselves, for instance, in their concept of God. If there is only one God, the exclusiveness is illogical. As Arief Budiman said, there is no Christian God or Islamic God. Former president of Indonesia Abdurrahman Wahid said people who conducted war in the name of Allah are wrong because God does not need to be protected. Humanitarian principles need to be highlighted persistently in order to remind people of the ‘beauty’ of religion (Appleby 2001). The humanitarian aspect needs to be promoted into something more real, such as conducting regular inter-faith dialogue and educating people on the culture of peace. Being religious only by conducting ceremonies and rituals is artificial; the most important thing is to promote human welfare and reduce human suffering. Poverty alleviation is important, though it is more about the physical recovery, while dialogue and education focus more on psychological, emotional and cultural aspects. One agreement of the peace process in Mindanao said: There is an urgent need to bridge the communities through [a] programme of rehabilitation, reconstruction and healing. It does not simply refer to material rehabilitation, indemnification, reconstruction and healing of physical wounds. Running deeper is the psychological, emotional, cultural



and religious wounded-ness and alienation brought about by the war traumas and politics of separatism. Unless this divide is squarely addressed, the integration process will always fall short. There is no way of shoving the dirt under the rug (Mercado 2000).

Civil wars, ethnic and inter-religious conflicts are spreading from South America to Southeast Asia. The victims, including refugees, are everincreasing. However, the big amounts of donation have been unable to bring peace as well. Peace activities have been organised for the past 20 years, but wars or physical conflict still remain the same, even worse. This is because realists believe that there will be no peace without war. The trend in world politics predicates much worse in the neo-realism theory in which balance of terror is a major approach in dealing with peace (Kegley and Wittkopf 1999: 40). The win–win scenario that liberalism has been offering is a useless solution. In the global context, interdependence is very important. No nation can live in the world system without any help from others. However, the ‘winner’ is still very limited, while the ‘loser’ is becoming bigger and bigger. Realists and neo-realists have a pessimistic perspective about peace; on the other side, the liberals are too positive or optimistic. Democracy as the key concept of liberalism has the biggest role in developing equality of access in economy and politics. Poverty is the main reason for the failure of democracy. Although poverty is really a complex issue in terms of classification and source, it is easy to think that the poor mostly do not care about politics. The most important thing is to have the chance to stay alive. Different interests between ordinary people and government/politicians happen because people only think of the struggles in their daily life, while the government/politicians only want to gain power, money and position. The manipulation of both religion and politics has weakened security in many aspects. The quality of life and safety of the people are the first to be affected. National development programmes are suffering due to political instability. Trade and foreign investment as the engines of development have also been slowing down. Moreover, political struggle in the name of religion is spilling all over the Southeast Asian region. Therefore, religious conflicts such as in Indonesia and the Philippines are now classified as world issues, although they are rooted in the inability of each individual government in dealing with the problems. Security as a condition of there being no fear or threat has to be discussed further. The ASEAN defines security as comprehensive



security, and national and regional resilience. Comprehensive security means security beyond military and defence considerations. Political stability, economic development and social cohesion are important sources of democratisation not only for Indonesia, but also for many other countries. Domestic conflicts consist of regional/international dimensions, such as moral forces (political motivation), and physical or material support that goes across the borders in order to support local movements. Proximity to and advanced technology in publishing information are some possible reasons of regional conflict. Religious conflicts in Indonesia, which are potentially affecting the regional security of Southeast Asia, are long-standing conflicts between the state (government) and the people (Muslims), and some sporadic incidents, such as in Ambon, Aceh and Jakarta. The prospect of peace depends crucially on the levels of conflict, and there can be no simple solution to deal with these. If war cannot end, it does not mean that there is no need for peaceful action. Peaceful actions need to consider reducing misunderstandings, prejudice, suspicions, distrust and violent actions. Dialogue is a good alternative to eliminate misunderstanding and intolerance or minimise conflict. Besides dialogue, especially the younger generation needs to be educated on how to be more tolerant. Indonesia has been holding inter-religious dialogue not only between Muslims and Christians, but also among the Buddhists, Hindus and Confucians since 1967. These dialogues became more intense after the violence in Ambon. However, they were just for the elite (Suara Pembaruan 2001). Politics is usually very powerful in determining the fate of individuals, society and the nation, but religion tends to have just limited authority only on the spirituality and morality aspects (Wahono S. Wismoady 1999). Consequently, religious communities have no ability to deal with the pluralistic.

CONCLUSION Indonesian Muslims are not hom*ogenous. It is important to understand that there is no single Islamic community that is able to interpret Islamic values for representing democracy in Indonesian politics. This is because Islam has a very flexible interpretation of its principles.



Compatibility between Islam and democracy remains debatable. Islam as well as other religions have peaceful seeds or humanistic values, such as tolerance, freedom and respect. Democracy also has similar values or characteristics: tolerance, freedom of thought and action, and individualism (Mernissi 2002: 42). Another set of common values or ideas between Islam and democracy is that both have to adjust to ‘local’ cultures. Consequently, they have different practices from one country to another. Therefore, Muslims in Indonesia are different from Muslims in the Arab world, European countries or even in Malaysia. Indonesian Muslims are moderate compared to Pakistan or Iran.19 Why are Islam and democracy incompatible? First, besides the peaceful aspects, all religions, including Islam, have the seeds of conflict, such as intolerance, arrogance, exclusivity, and coerciveness. Fundamentalists use these characteristics to preserve their religion, which also brings about clear and strong gaps within their own communities or with other communities. Second, the conflict between Islam and democracy is because of political reasons. Islamic politics remains insignificant in the Indonesian political system because moderate Muslims disagree with the idea of an Islamic state in Indonesia. Their disagreements are similar to that of the non-Muslim communities that also rejected the idea from the beginning of Indonesian independence. Third, democracy is identical with Western or Christian values, which strongly support a secular state. Islam and democracy have similar humanistic ideas, but fundamentalist Islam is, on the contrary, persistently promoting and supporting a non-secular state. Competition between Western democracy and Muslim traditions has caused frustration in some Muslim groups, and this is the reason why they are involved in radicalism. For political and security reasons, radical Islam is associated with terrorists because of the use of symbols of Islam. Islam and terrorism became an international political and security issue soon after the September 11 tragedy. Democracy, in the Western (or Christian) sense, has been used as a political weapon to claim independence and religious freedom.


Senior minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, argued that, ‘Indonesian Government was not doing enough to manage the terrorist threat.’ See Singh (2003: 209).

108 2. 3.

4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.



12. 13. 14. 15.





ADRIANA ELISABETH, accessed 2 March 2005. See Harman (2003). Snouck Hutgronje wrote his theory in L’arabic et les Indes Neerlandaises. He got the idea from Pijnappel, a scholar from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, who published the theory of Gujarat. See, p. 2, accessed 5 March 2005. See, ‘Wolfolits: Indonesia Stands as Example to Muslim World’, accessed 1 December 2004. Golkar is the abbreviation of Golongan Karya or ‘functional group’, and now is called the Golkar Party. See Rabasa and Haseman (2002). The PKB and PAN are supported by the grassroots from two major Islamic organisations in Indonesia—NU (PKB) and Muhammadiyah (PAN). The PPP was the only Islamic party during the New Order among three political parties, Golkar, the ruling party, and PDI, the nationalist party. The 2004 general elections in Indonesia were held three times: 5 April (the legislative election); 5 July (the first round of the presidential election); and 20 September (the second round of the presidential election). The Golkar Party was formerly called Golongan Karya or Golkar (Fungsional Party). It was established on 20 October 1964, a year before the military coup against the President Sukarno in 1965. Suharto was the second president of Indonesia, and was from Golkar, the ruling party until 1998. See, Indonesian population based on religion in 2004, Badan Pusat Statistik/BPS (Center Body of Statistics), Jakarta. Hashim Salamat was the former leader of the hardline MILF group in Mindanao in southern Philippines. Interview with Azis Lapatoro in Poso, June 2003. According to some sources, Azis is a moderate Muslim Pamona. Sali Pelu, interviewed on 24 April 2004 in Manokwari. The Malino working groups were part of the central government initiatives under the Malino Declaration (Deklama) to deal with the communal conflict in Poso. The Moro delivered guns to Maluku because they were useless under the ceasefire agreement. Besides, the Moro produced weapons and ammunisition from their own factory in Cotabota City, Mindanao. In conflict area likes Poso in Central Sulawesi, there were Laskar Jihad (Jihad Troops/Islamic group) and Laskar Kristus or Laskar Manguni (Christian Troops/ Christian group). Some sources believed that both were established and supported by the same body, special faction on the TNI, that is Kopassus. However, there is no investigation report that clearly clarified about the involvement of the TNI in the Poso conflicts. See International IDEA (2004: 1). The democracy assessment methodology was based on general agreement from countries like Bangladesh, Malawi, New Zealand, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UN ECA) that came to the IDEA workshop in 25–6 June in London. Indonesian Muslims are approximately 80–90 per cent of the whole Indonesian population of more than 220 million people. See http://www.indonesia-ottawa. org/breakingnews.



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Islamic Iran provides a very complex case for an objective and unbiased assessment on the state of democracy and human rights. Part of the problem lies in the fact that like most other Third World countries, its government claims a clean record as far as human rights and observance of democratic ideals are concerned, whilst its opponents claim an entirely different picture. In the case of Iran, this picture becomes further complicated due to the religious factor. The fact that the Iranian state adheres officially to Islam has caused many outside observers to assume by definition that there must be gross and inevitable violations of human rights in that country. Many Iranian opponents of the Islamic regime have tried to manipulate this perception against the Islamic regime’s international image. They have relentlessly tried to campaign against its democratic reputation worldwide, regardless of what the actual status of democracy and human rights has been in Iran. Any realistic assessment of freedom and democratic ideals in Iran must



start primarily with an understanding of the historical development of democratic values and the struggle for freedom and democracy during the last century. Iran entered the 20th century as an economically backward, politically undeveloped and socially isolated country. It was ruled by the autocratic medieval centuries-style Qajar dynasty. At the turn of the 20th century, less than 1 per cent of Iranians were literate (Bahrier 1971: 35). There was no modern universal education, no modern schools, no university, no newspapers, no traces of modern communications and transport, and none of the other aspects of social and cultural institutions. Neither were there any elements of modern and democratic political ideals. The Qajar monarch ruled through absolute power. There was no constitution, parliament, laws, conventions or modus vivendi exerting limitations on the monarch’s absolute powers and prerogatives. Nor for that matter was there an assembly of elders and nobles to advise the king. In provinces and rural areas, the landed aristocracy, who were often related to the Qajar court, ruled in much the same way that the monarch did in the capital. The other social power, that is, the clerical establishment, was partly in collusion with the ruling Qajar dynasty and partly shunned political involvement and confined themselves to religious seminaries. The country’s economy depended entirely on its subsistent and backward agriculture. Iranians living in large cities were unaware of what went on in the nearby towns and villages, let alone the world outside. It was against this background that the Constitutional Revolution of 1906 took place. Like similar social and political movements in other countries, it did not come about suddenly. It was as a result of many years of slowly evolving social development. The movement sought to establish a Majlis (parliament) and to create a constitution, thereby limiting the monarch’s absolute power and his despotic rule. Moreover, it tried to make state officials responsible for their policies and decisions to the Majlis. The Constitutional Revolution also introduced Iranians to modern liberal Western political ideals: political freedom, freedom of thought and expression, freedom of the press, free elections, representative government, rule of law (as opposed to the uninstructed, arbitrary and despotic rule of the Qajar rulers), equality before the law, the notion that people were citizens and enjoyed certain undeniable civil and democratic rights (as opposed to being docile servants to the ruling elite, landed aristocracy and the Qajar hierarchy), and similar



concepts. Whilst there was, of course, some opposition to at least some of these ideas, they appealed to an increasing number of Iranians. One important reason for the widespread attraction to the new thoughts was the fact that a number of leading Shi’ite clergy supported them. The support included the prominent Shi’ite ulema of Najaf in Iraq. When Sheikh Fazllulah Nuri, a prominent Shi’ite leader in Tehran, denounced the constitution as un-Islamic and heresy, the Najaf ulema issued a fatwa to the contrary declaring it to be in accordance with the Shari’a (Kedourie and Haim 1980: 11). Iranian Shi’ite leaders’ support for the idea of a constitutional movement was so deep, widespread and committal that the subsequent revolution was led by two of the leading ulema of the capital. The long-term objectives of the Constitutional Revolution were to establish democracy and the rule of law in Iran. The movement had, of course, short-term achievements as well. Political associations began to emerge and the press was free for the first time in Iran. There were important intellectual development as well. Western classical works in history, law, literature, philosophy, Western civilisation and ideas, as well as basic sciences were translated into Persian from French and English. Modern schools were built and the idea of universal education was introduced. Iran appeared to have entered a new era. The historical Majlis was formed a few months after the revolution and a broadly democratic constitution was drafted, based essentially on the French constitution. It limited the power of the monarch, made everyone equal before the law, and compelled the government to be appointed and responsible to the Majlis and guarantee basic civic rights. Newspapers published lively articles on universal suffrage, freedom of expression, press freedom, rule of law, free elections and a host of other modern democratic ideals. Inside the Majlis, too, there were equally novel discussions such as separation of powers, accountability of ministers and state officials to the Majlis, and the total responsibility of the legislature’s power over the country’s overall finances. In spite of all the expectations, the new era, or the ‘spring’ of Tehran did not last long. A year after the revolution, the Majlis was bombarded by the monarch’s forces commanded by Russian officers (1907). Constitutionalist leaders were on the run, some taking sanctuary in the British legation, others fleeing the country, and others detained. Some of the more radical leaders of the movement were subsequently hanged by the monarch’s order.



However, the bombardment and the monarch’s rebellion against the Majlis failed to bring down the new order. Although the monarch conquered Tehran, silenced the parliament and put the constitutionalists on the run, the new era had reached beyond the capital. Resistance to the royalists began to mount from different parts of the country. In particular, Tabriz in the northeast, Gilan in the north and Isfehan in the south rallied behind the constitutional cause. After 14 months of a bitter and protracted civil war between the forces loyal to the Qajar monarch and the constitutionalists, the royalists were defeated. The constitutionalists entered the capital triumphantly. The monarch abdicated and was exiled to Russia, and his seven-year-old crown prince became the new monarch. In the words of a constitutionalist leader, the new era at long last had dawned in Iran, the era of modernity, progress and, above all, democracy (Lafraie 1986: 97). Another constitutionalist stated: Three years ago we tried to replace despotism by democracy through public protests and street demonstrations. Although we succeeded initially, but failed subsequently to achieve our ideals because of the reactionary forces’ resistance to progressive changes. This time, however, we established democracy by the barrel of our muskets and pistols. We are determined to defend democracy and freedom by shedding our blood (ibid.).

Fifteen years later, a new regime had come to power in Iran that during the next two decades systematically destroyed all the constitutional achievements. Reza Shah, the new Iranian leader who wiped out the 140-year-old Qajar rule and established the Pahlavi dynasty, ruled the country through tyranny and repression, without any respect for the Majlis, constitution or public consent (1925–41). There was no press freedom, freedom of expression or political associations. Political parties were banned and trade unions were declared illegal. The left, which had gained some strength during the constitutional era, was severely crushed and its leaders became Iran’s first political prisoners (Lenczowski 1978: 123). The new regime had no tolerance for Islam and religious ideas either. They forced the clerical leaders to shun politics and not to come out of their religious seminaries. Reza Shah also banned Iranian women from wearing the veil or scarf in public. He ruthlessly murdered, threw into prison and silenced any voices that were raised against him. He didn’t even tolerate criticism against his economic plans and public policies. Iran had all the hallmarks of a brutal police state under Reza Shah’s reign.



Though Iran moved backward under Reza Shah as far as democracy was concerned, in other respects there were impressive achievements. Universal education, modern industries, a centralised modern bureaucracy, banking, a modern army and police force, a secular judicial system, modern communications, roads, railways and transport, universities and hospitals were Reza Shah’s achievements. To be fair, there was modernisation in major aspects of Iranian society, including substantial development in the country’s economy, which had ground to a halt before his reign. Politically, however, Iran regressed. The repression under Reza Shah was far worse than it ever had been under Qajar rule. There is substantial literature among Iranians about the causes of the failure of the Constitutional Revolution. Some have argued that the constitutional reforms were mere superficial imitations of Western liberal democracy by some intellectuals, without paying much consideration to the deeper social aspects of Western societies. They simply tried to install a Western-style political system in Iran without realising that the establishment of such a system in the West came about through a long historical process, according to an Iranian historian in trying to explain why the constitutional movement with its highly ambitions goals had ended up in Reza Shah’s brutal police state (Khadduri 1981: 73–75). Others have argued that there was an inherent contradiction between the underlying principles of constitutionalism and Islam. The constitutional movement was, therefore, destined to fail from the start (Ajodani 2004: 21–53). The more religiously inclined analysts blamed the Western secular nature of the constitution, which caused the dismay and ultimate separation of the clergy from that movement. These writers argue that the constitutional movement was initially within the boundaries of Islam. Its ideals and objectives were Islamic and within the Shari’a principles. But some of the more Western and secular elements within the movement hijacked it and substituted secular and Western concepts with Islamic principles. When the clerical leaders, who had entered the constitutional movement out of their religious convictions, realised that the movement was increasingly shifting from Islamic to Western values, they decided to depart from it. The ordinary people, who supported the constitutional movement at the behest of their religious leaders, turned their back on the movement when they saw that their leaders had done the same (Najafi 1373). Moreover, some of the anti-clerical figures tried to dislodge the clergy from politics and interference in



state affairs, and persuaded them to return to their seminaries after the revolution had succeeded. Some Majlis deputies and journalists strongly advocated separation of religion and politics. Some clerics felt that the secularists had used them to defeat the court and now that their objectives had been achieved, they were pushing the clergy back and advocating the Western model of separation between ‘church and state’ (Stewart 1988: 22–50). The very fact that the constitutional movement was succeeded by a repressive regime has convinced many Iran analysts that it ended up in a gross failure. Each group, therefore, tries to produce its own reasons for this failure. It is true that the movement failed to establish a true parliament, the rule of law and democracy. However, it had significant long-term influence on Iranians’ outlook on many important social and political aspects. It radically changed the Iranians’ perception of the state, the government and its legitimacy. Hitherto, Iranians had perceived for more than 2,000 years that the right to govern was a ‘God given’ right. Since the people had no role in providing legitimacy for the state, they enjoyed no rights, prerogatives or privileges. The sovereign’s legitimacy was from ‘heaven’ and, therefore, he had no obligations towards the people. The constitutional movement changed this perception. The source of providing legitimacy to the sovereign shifted from the ‘heavenly power’ to the humble people. In the words of an Iranian writer, the most important achievement of the constitutional movement was that ‘it brought the sovereign from heaven to earth’. The legitimacy of the government now came through the ballot box. Reza Shah increasingly leaned towards Germany during the 1930s. Thousands of German technicians and engineers were working in Iran. The Germans’ appeal to Reza Shah was more than economical and technical assistance. He was fascinated by the Führer’s ideals and envied his style of leadership. When the Second World War broke out, there were more than 2,000 Germans with their families working in Iran (ibid.). The Allies (Britain and the former Soviet Union) became increasingly concerned about the presence of so many Germans in Iran. They began to press the Iranian government to substantially reduce the number. The Allies were also painfully aware of the sympathy and admiration of the Iranian officials, including the monarch himself, for Germans. Reza Shah responded to the Allies’ request by stating that the Germans working in Iran were involved in construction, technical and



managerial posts, and not in any military or intelligence activities against them as claimed by the British government. Reza Shah further retorted that as far as the war was concerned, Iran’s foreign minister had declared its neutrality in the conflict officially, and firmly and solemnly stood by it (ibid.: 37). The Allies eventually decided to invade Iran in August 1941 and deposed the monarch. He was so feared that it appeared unthinkable to Iranians that his reign could come to a sudden end in less than a week. The post-Reza Shah era was marked by a sudden vacuum of power that resulted in weak and unstable governments. As a result, a free and democratic atmosphere began to flourish in Iran, which lasted more than a decade. Political prisoners were released, political exiles returned to Iran, some of Reza Shah’s security chiefs were detained, and newspapers began to be published without any fear of authorities or censorship after nearly two decades of repression. Political parties, trade unions and a widespread popular leftist movement emerged, influencing the country’s political affairs during the decade. The radical left-wing Tudeh (the masses) party that was formed a few weeks after Reza Shah was overthrown attracted the country’s intellectuals, writers, artists, students, professionals, university graduates, women and even the Christian minority. The party even appealed to some of the young and educated members of the country’s armed forces. As well as the left, the post-Reza Shah era also witnessed the emergence of a strong liberal-nationalist movement that challenged the century-old British domination in Iran. Mohammad Mosadegh, the nationalist leader in association with Ayatullah Kashani, a staunch anti-British Shi’ite leader, nationalised the Iranian oil industry, which, since its birth at the beginning of the 20th century, had remained firmly under British control. Finally, there were also free elections after two decades of docile parliaments whose members were selected by Reza Shah’s government officials. The post-Reza Shah liberalised era did not last long. Fearing the growth of the radical left-wing Tudeh party on the one hand, and failing to reach any compromise with the nationalist leader, the British convinced the US government to move against Mosadegh’s government. The American CIA and the British MI5 overthrew the liberal government of Mosadegh in August 1953 through a military coup that was designed and financed by Washington and London. The coup resolved the two-year oil dispute with the British, and they were once again in control of Iran’s oil industry, with US companies establishing



a foothold in the industry for the first time. The overthrow of Mosadegh’s government was in many respects similar to the overthrow of Salvador Allende’s government in Chile in 1973. In both cases, the democratically elected governments with much popularity were overthrown followed by the reign of a brutal and repressive dictatorship. Like the coup in Chile, in Iran, too, the left, namely, the powerful Tudeh party, became the main victim of the coup. Its entire leadership fled the country; hundreds of its rank and file and party activists across the country were detained, and the military prosecutor declared the party an illegal organisation. Dozens of the party’s leaders were either executed or received long-term prison sentences (Abrahamian 1982: 43–739). The liberal nationalist movements’ leaders along with Mosadegh’s colleagues in the government were also detained. Some of Mosadegh’s cabinet members, including the prime minister himself, received prison sentences, though much lighter than the Tudeh leaders. However, Husein Fatemi, Mosadegh’s closest ally and his foreign minister, was executed after being tried by a military tribunal. Detention and elimination of the Shah’s opponents were not the only results of the August coup. Newspapers were closed down, and political parties, independent social and political associations, free trade unions and students’ associations were banned. The post-coup era was in many respects reminiscent of Reza Shah’s reign. There was no political freedom, newspapers only published what the government wished, and there was no tolerance of any opposition. As far as democracy and the human rights were concerned, the 25 years between 1953 until the fall of Mohamad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah in 1979, was indeed a dark period (Farrokh 1985: 252). It was against this political background and the feeling of hopelessness that the idea of waging an armed struggle against the regime gradually emerged amongst the younger and more radical opponents of the Shah. The struggle, which received momentum from the mid-1960s, reached its peak during the next decade. It comprised both Marxist as well as Islamic currents. Both drew their main support largely from students and university graduates. The main Islamic movement formed in 1965 called itself the People’s Mujaheedin Guerrilla Organisation. It attracted supporters from religious seminaries, young clergies particularly disciples of the late Imam Khomeini as well as religiously-inclined students and professionals. Another important source of support for the Mujaheedin



were the pious merchants of Tehran’s main bazaar. The main Marxist guerrilla group, the Fadaii Organisation, appealed to students and some of the country’s writers and intellectuals. The clandestine and secretive nature of the armed struggle forced security agents to use increasing force against the suspected detainees. As a result, the widespread use of torture became common practice against political prisoners during the late 1960s, and continued through the mid-1970s. The use of force and its increasing severity on political prisoners by security officers under the assumption that they were withholding information about the armed groups was not the only outcome of the post-coup era. The number of political detainees and consequently political prisoners rose sharply during the 1960s and the early 1970s. Once again, the nature of the armed struggle was the main cause of the rapid rise of the number of political prisoners in Iran, particularly during the 1970s. An international human rights group reported that the number of political prisoners in Iran jumped from around 100 in 1970 to 5,000 by 1976 (Sick 1986: 97–99). SAVAK, the main security apparatus formed after the coup in the mid-1950s, increasingly acted as the main pillar of the Shah’s regime (Halliday 1979). Although its chief was officially one of the prime minister’s deputies and as such appointed by him, in reality, he had assumed such an important position that he reported directly to the Shah. Similar to any other dictatorship, the security apparatus became powerful institutions operating above the law. SAVAK enjoyed unrestricted power and authority and its agents and chiefs were beyond any scrutiny by the Majlis, prime minister and the cabinet. In trying to eliminate the armed struggle, SAVAK also controlled publication of books, and censored every kind of art, literature, poetry and any other cultural activities that might in any way produce subversive material. The widespread use of torture, high numbers of political prisoners, and heavy censorship during the mid-1970s made Iran in the words of Amnesty International, ‘one of the worst countries in the world as far as the gross and systematic violations of the human rights were concerned’ (Observer 1974). It is interesting to observe the Iranian leader’s response to the violation of the human rights and suppression of democracy. As far as the Shah was concerned, he was developing, modernising and making progress in his otherwise backward and undeveloped country. He invariably dismissed every report by the international community on the human rights conditions in Iran. According to him, since he was



developing the country, those who were against progress and modernity, or else were agents of colonial powers, tended to disagree with his reforms. Otherwise, stated the Shah, ‘how can any patriotic Iranian disagree with modern and progressive policies which were transferring Iran from a nineteenth century backward country into a modern, twentieth century industrial state?’ (Rastakhiz 1977). He, therefore, accused his opponents as ‘either reactionary clergies who opposed modernity, or Marxist elements who were paid agents of Iran’s powerful communist neighbors’ [the former Soviet Union] (Kayhan 1978). The tragedy was that the Shah really believed these ideas. Thus, when the Islamic Revolution broke out in 1978–79, the main causes of the dissension against the Shah were political. The Islamic regime has tried to interpret the revolution to prove its political outlook and thinking. The revolution has been portrayed officially as an anti-Western, and particularly anti-American, struggle. The struggle against the Shah has been interpreted as one to achieve an Islamic state in Iran. Similarly, the people’s dissension against the old regime in turn has been attributed to the Shah’s anti-Islamic policies. At schools and universities, as well as through the official media, the government teaches Iranians that Muslims rose against the Shah because of the latter’s subservience to the Western powers and his anti-Islamic policies. The very fact that more than 98.5 per cent of Iranians voted for the establishment of an Islamic state in a referendum that took place shortly after the revolution in 1979 has been used as clear proof that the Iranians’ goal in their struggle against the Shah was indeed to create an Islamic state and to be ruled by the Shari’a laws. The problem with this interpretation is that it leaves aside all the democratic ingredients of the struggle. It is true that the struggle against the old regime and the subsequent revolution ended up in the establishment of an Islamic state in Iran. It is also true that Iranians in the 1970s turned to Islam and accepted wholeheartedly clerical leadership and that of the late Ayatullah Khomeini. But the underlying causes of the struggle against the Shah were political even though they were expressed in a religious discourse. In other words, Iranians perceived no contradiction between their democratic ideals on the one hand and their religious convictions on the other. According to a scholar on the Iranian Islamic Revolution, ‘Iranians were convinced that the Islamic state which they were struggling to establish after the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, would lead into democracy and the rule of law’ (Falker 1979–80).



Thus, the Islamic Revolution was not something that took place in isolation from the rest of Iran’s modern history. It was a continuation of the long march to democracy, which had begun during the first years of the 20th century (Zibakalam 2003). If we accept that the Islamic Revolution was primarily to establish democracy in Iran, the important question is, how successful has it been after 25 years? The Islamic Revolution initially made Iran a completely free country, in much the same way as had happened nearly 70 years before during the Constitutional Revolution. But problems lay ahead. Internal rivalries amongst different political factions that had participated in the struggle against the old regime, disputes and jockeying for power within various Islamic strands, and ethnic, tribal and religious uprising in provinces led to the adoption of increasingly tougher policies by the new revolutionary rulers in Tehran. Before the newly established democracy came under considerable strain, Iranians enjoyed complete freedom. Dozens of completely free newspapers appeared reporting without any constraints after 25 years of absolute dictatorship. Freedom of expression and thought prevailed. In less than a year after the revolution, Iranians took part in free elections, voting for a new constitution, chose the country’s first president, and elected members of the new Majlis. Dozens of political, social, cultural, religious and ethnic associations emerged during the first few years of the revolution. But dark clouds were steadily gathering over the sky of revolutionary Iran. As well as internal problems, there were rising tensions and disputes with foreign powers and Iran’s neighbours. Hostility with the West and the superpowers, particularly the US, enhanced the revolutionary zeal and led to the radicalisation of the country’s domestic policies. The more moderate and liberal Islamic leaders became marginalised within the revolutionary leadership and were replaced by the more radical fundamentalist Islamic strands. Finally, the eight-year war with Iraq poured cold water on much of the revolution’s democratic aspirations. When the war ended in July 1988, the Islamic leaders were confronted with a ruined country, an empty treasury and a stagnant economy. Much of the country’s industrial infrastructure had been badly damaged. Given the Islamic regime’s international isolation during the war, the government had to spend much of its national wealth in keeping the war going. As a result, there had not been much investment in large-scale national projects. Confronted with these conditions, the Islamic leaders’ priority centred on large-scale projects and in resuscitating the country’s ruined economy. Democracy and



political development had to wait (Kayhan 1991). Eventually, the famous June 1997 presidential elections appeared to have brought the turn of democracy to Iran. Following his unexpected landslide victory, Mohammad Khatami, the newly elected president, declared that his top priorities were ‘political development, rule of law and the establishment of civil society in Iran’ (Hamshahri 1997). Once again, it was a new spring for Iran. Dozens of newly independent newspapers appeared, universties once again were politically and socially alive after nearly 15 years of silence, social associations and political parties started once again to flex their muscles. A new era of reform thus began. The reforms aimed to bring about the much-awaited democracy to Iran. How can those years since then be judged and what kind of projections can be made for the future of democracy in Iran? Opinions are sharply divided between those who are strongly critical of the past eight years and those who tend to give the past eight years their qualified support. Opponents argue that President Khatami and the reformists failed to bring about any real changes. Moreover, many Iranians, particularly the younger generation who had high hopes from Khatami and the reform movement, have reached the conclusion that the years of reforms have proved that the present Islamic system is insular and incapable of being reformed (Negah-e Noo 2002). Any hope that the present system can be reformed from within is misplaced and futile. The present power arrangement, which results in the Islamic regime’s constitution, blocks the possibilities of any reform or meaningful change. There cannot be any democratic distribution of power under the present constitution since too much power has been given to the unelected institutions (ibid. 2004). In the opinion of a number of critics of the Islamic regime, the constitution is the main stumbling block against any democratic development in Iran (General Union of Students’ Associations 2004). One particular example that critics raise is the power the constitution has granted to the supreme leader and the institutions that come under his direct control. These institutions do not regard themselves as answerable to the elected parts of the government, the Majlis or the president. The Guardian Council is a vivid example. This 12-member council, half of whom are appointed by the leader, is responsible for vetting the bills passed by the Majlis in order to verify that they are in accordance with the Shari’a laws as well as the constitution. The Council vetoed most of the progressive bills that were passed by the reformistsdominated sixth Majlis (1999–2003). If the Majlis insists on its decision,



the bill is sent to the Expediency Council (EP). The EP is composed of nearly 30 members, most of whom are appointed by the supreme leader, and its ruling is final. Another controversial responsibility that has been assigned to the Guardian Council (GC), is the supervision of the country’s general elections (both the Majlis and presidential elections). The GC has interpreted its ‘supervisory responsibility’ as meaning the verification of suitability of every candidate that enters the elections. If it decides that a candidate does not have the necessary Islamic credentials, he or she is disqualified. During the past decade alone, the GC has disqualified hundreds of candidates from standing either for the Majlis or the presidential elections, charging them for not having the appropriate or sufficient ‘Islamic credentials’. The term ‘not having appropriate Islamic credentials’ implies wide-ranging issues from ‘having a criminal record’ to ‘not being a practising Muslim’, or ‘not believing in the country’s constitution’ to ‘not supporting the supreme leader’. During the last Majlis elections in 2003, the GC disqualified some 2,000 candidates, most of whom were reformists, including some 100 deputies of the sixth Majlis. Although the law demands that the GC must provide its evidence for the disqualification, it seldom does so and only states that ‘the candidate does not have appropriate Islamic credentials’. The judiciary is another example referred to by the opponents of the Islamic regime as a point against democracy. The head of the judiciary is always a senior Shi’ite clergy appointed directly by the supreme leader for a period of six years. In theory, judges must be impartial in their judgment. In reality, however, some judges have acted far from impartially. Scores of newspapers have been shut down frequently without proper legal requirements being met. Dozens of writers, political activists, students’ movement leaders and journalists have been detained, sometimes for months, with vague charges. Some have been sentenced even to a few years’ imprisonment on dubious charges. The previous Majlis (1999–2003), which was dominated by reformists, made frequent inquiries about some of the detentions, court verdicts and the treatment of the political prisoners, but the judiciary invariably responded by stating that it was independent under the constitution and was not obliged to answer either the Majlis or the president. Given these experiences, many Iranians have reached the conclusion that under the present power structure, there cannot be any real progress towards democracy and political reform. The opponents of the Islamic regime living outside the country first called for a referendum to decide



the future of the government in Iran. The experience of the past years has convinced many former supporters of the Islamic regime that there is no other way to democratisation in Iran other than a referendum to change the constitution. The leadership of the country’s radical students’ movement, some of Iran’s leading Islamic intellectuals, as well as some of the liberal clergy and many educated professionals, particularly the younger generation, have joined the call for holding a referendum. Some have even stated that they would no longer take part in any elections since nothing would change as the years of Khatami’s presidency and the reformists’ Majlis have demonstrated. They decided to stay away from the presidential election in June 2005 in much the same way that they stayed away from the previous Majlis elections in February 2004. Although the call for a referendum and boycotting the elections is widespread among many Iranians as well as some of the country’s leading political circles, it is a misleading strategy. First of all, the argument that the reform movement under Khatami has been a total failure, as advocated by many, is not a very accurate judgement. It is true that Iran in many ways lacks democracy and there are violations of human rights. It is also true that many newspapers have been shut down, often without proper legal procedures, and there have been detentions of political activists, writers and journalists. There can be little argument with the point that there are areas within the present constitution that certainly require changes. The critics, however, fail to realise two important considerations. First, the changes, which have actually taken place in Iran during the past eight years. The shortcomings must not blind our eyes to the positive steps and progress which have been made since the revolution and particularly the past eight years. Second, the path to democracy and political reform is by its very nature a slow development. Any alternative to show progress, such as to call for the overthrow of the Islamic regime or to scrap the present constitution and similar radical prescriptions, would lead Iran into anarchy, chaos and civil war. Iran faces religious and ethnic problems, similar to other countries in the region. Any serious challenge to the central government authority in Tehran would pave the way for unleashing all sorts of separatist movements across the country. In such circ*mstances, not only would the democratic movement not flourish but, as the experience in the other developing countries as well as the contemporary history of Iran has shown, the democratic achievements would suffer considerably.



One area where improvement has indeed been impressive is the media. Iranian newspapers have far fewer restrictions than before. There are dozens of daily newspapers, weeklies and other publications that can more or less be described as independent media. There are, of course, certain ‘red lines’ beyond which not even the so-called ‘reformist papers’ would go, but the degree of freedom and room for invesigative journalism and objective reporting have never been so rich as in contemporary Iran. Some newspapers are known for their criticism of the Islamic regime’s policies, and write under reasonable freedom and quite objectively about the leaders. The institutions operating under the supreme leader have traditionally enjoyed certain immunity from public scrutiny. Today, however, newspapers write quite freely about them. The powerful Guardian Council, judiciary and other institutions have faced serious criticisms from reformist newspapers. Compulsory veiling or hijab for women in public has also become enormously relaxed in recent years. There have been similar relaxations on other social restrictions. More than 300 social, political and various other NGOs have been formed (Ministry of Interior 2004). In short, the degree of social and political freedom that exists in Iran today is far greater than it has ever been. In fact, as far as democracy and openness are concerned, with the exception of Israel, Iran is by far ahead of all the other Middle Eastern countries. The same is true in comparison with the newly-formed Central Asian republics. Notwithstanding its problems, Iran has made reasonable progress in recent years. The crucial issue is how to make further progress in democracy and human rights. The referendum, even if successful, would bring chaos, civil disorder and political turmoil to the country. Even if we assume that supporters of the present regime would give in, the fact remains that the opponents are only united as far as their opposition to the present constitution is concerned. When it comes to the crucial issue of replacement, the opposition is deeply divided. This is a perfect recipe for chaos and even civil war. The best scenario for further progress in democracy and human rights in Iran is the slow but steady evolutionary path of reforming and changing the system from within.

REFERENCES General Union of the Students Associations. 2004. ‘Daftare Tahkim Vahdat’, Communiqué on the General Election. March. Bayanie-h Pieramon Entekhabat, Esfand 1383.



Abrahamian, Ervand. 1982. Iran between Two Revolution. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Ajodani, Masha’allah. 2004. Mashrooteh Irani (Iranian Constitutionalism). Tehran: Akhtaran Publication. Bahrier, J. 1971. Economic Developcent in Iran, 1900–1907. London: Oxford University Press. Falker, Richard. 1979–80. ‘Iran and American Geopolitics’, in Race and Class, 21: 74– 90. Halliday, Fred. 1979. Iran: Dictatorship and Development. London: Penguin. Hamshahri. 1977. 12 December (22 Azar 1376). Kayhan. 1978. 13 January (24 Day 1356). —————. 1991. 9 August (19 Mordad 1370). Keddie, Nikki R. 1983. Religion and Politics in Iran: Shi’ism from Quietism to Revolution. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. —————. 1987. Shi’ism, Resistance and Revolution. Boulder CO: Westview Press. Kedourie, Elie and Sylvia Haim (eds.). 1980. Towards a Modern Iran: Studies in Thought, Politics and Society. London: Frank Cass. Khadduri Majid. 1984. The Islamic of Conception of Justice. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Lafraie, Najibullah. 1986. Ideology of Revolution: A Normative study of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Harvard University Papers. Lenczowski, George. 1978. Iran Under the Pahlavis. Stanford Hoover Institute Press. Ministry of Interior (Iran). 2004. February (22 Bahman 1382). Moshiri, Farrokh. 1985. The State and Social Revolution in Iran: A Theoretical Perspective. New York: Peter Lang. Najafi, Mosa. 1994. ‘The Causes of the Failure of the Constitutional Revolution’. Kayhan-e Farhangi, 91(25): (Iran, 1373). Negah-e Noo. 2002. 97 (January) (Bahman 1381). —————. 2004. 101 (January) (Ordiebehest 1383). Observer. 1974. 26 May. Rastakhiz. 1977. 20 June (31 Khordad 1356). Sick, Gary. 1986. All Fall Down: America’s Tragic Encoucter with Iran. New York: Penguin. Stewart, Richard A. 1988. Sunrise at Abadan: The British and Soviet Invadion of Iran, 1941. New York: Praeger. Zibalalam, Sadegh. 2003. Moghadame-h bar Enghelab-e Islami (An Introduction to the Islamic Revolution). Rozaneh.


INTRODUCTION: STATING THE PROBLEM Historical records show that the Middle East, namely, the Arabian Peninsula, has been the cradle of major world religions, but interestingly, their adherents are found mostly outside of this region. A noted example of this is Islam. Emerging in the 7th century A.D. with Mohammed as the last Messenger of Allah, Islam has become a global faith today with about 1.4 billion believers, or 22 per cent of the world’s population, located mostly in the 57 member-states of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC). In Southeast Asia Muslims constitute the majority in three countries, Indonesia (the world’s largest Muslim nation), Malaysia and Brunei, while Muslim minorities are found in significant numbers in southern Thailand, southern Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam. Looking at the scenario of Muslim nations and communities in Asia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean as well as Africa as a whole, several important features stand out. First, almost all of them had



experienced one form of colonialism or the other over centuries, thus leaving them with a legacy of indignities of colonised people. Second, in terms of economic development, some Muslim nations have progressed far along the path of industrialisation and development, while others are lagging behind, with vast numbers of their population living in poverty and squalor. Third, in terms of political systems, many of these states practise various forms of democracy, while others, especially those in the Middle East, have non-democratic systems, including autocracy and even dictatorship. Fourth, while some Muslim states are pluralistic in nature, and have been successful in maintaining a peaceful and harmonious relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims, in others there have been tension and violence, both between Muslims and non-Muslims, and among Muslims themselves, not to mention between Muslim nations. It is against such a backdrop that at least two major developments have made their impact upon contemporary Muslim history and geopolitics. On the one hand, some Muslim countries led by their Muslim elite—Malaysia being one of the leading examples—have attempted to chart a new course towards progress to redeem not only the image of Islam as a progressive religion relevant to the modern world, but of Muslims as a modern ummah capable of engaging with globalisation, and of their states as carefully crafted political entities which promise to uphold freedom, democracy, transparency and good governance in which their citizens, irrespective of race, colour and creed could live together in peace and harmony. These states also attempt to negotiate with Western modernity, and in the process advance their own models of development that they claim can serve as a way forward for other Muslim countries (Mahathir 2001). On the other hand, we have witnessed an Islamist resurgence that had taken centrestage since the 1970s, denouncing the existing social order, putting the blame for the backwardness of Muslims on colonialism, capitalism and the West, as well as on those Muslim leaders who are in power, but not practising what they consider as ‘true Islam’. And, of late, we have also seen many terrorist acts—the most extreme being the September 11 incident in 2001—carried out by Muslim groups in the name of Islam, which have placed the religion and the Muslim ummah in a very negative light. Given this scenario, it is not surprising that views regarding the compatibility of democracy with Islam as well as with Muslim culture and psyche have differed between Muslim ruling elite, the Islamists and the ummah in general. While the former tend to accept the ‘compatability



thesis’ and attempt to implement democratic systems of government (with the exception, of course, of a number of repressive states in the Middle East and elsewhere), the latter, especially hardline Islamists, regard democracy as anathema to Islam. Some of them maintain that democracy is a Western imperialist legacy, an extension of secularism and liberalism that will undermine Islamic morality and religious faith. As shown by several scholars, there is a split among the Islamists, with a section among them espousing that there are elements in Islam such as syura (consultations), ijma (consensus), maslaha (public interest), the legitimacy of ikhtilaf (divergence of opinions), justice, fairness, opposition to arbitrary rule, and so on, which—to all intents and purposes— reflect democracy at work in the body politic of Islam itself (Syed Ahmad Hussein 2002: 78). They conclude that the fact that many contemporary Muslim states are not democratic is not a function of religion, but of oppressive Muslim regimes. In the same way, the fact that terror attacks have been waged by Muslim individuals and groups in the name of Islam is not a function of Islam as if it were a religion of violence. Rather, they are a reflection of the dissatisfaction and anger against an unjust system that denies dignity to Muslims, besides being a reflection of extremism and erroneous interpretation of Islam by these groups and individuals. Bearing all this in mind, some important questions before us are: Why is it that some Muslim nations have been able to develop economically and practise a certain form of democratic political system? Can Muslim states institute governance that is democratic, just and transparent, and deliver the goods for their citizens, Muslims and nonMuslims alike? What are the success factors that lead to this, and what are the obstacles? What lessons can be learnt for modernising Muslim societies in the 21st century? This chapter seeks to address these and related questions by examining the case of Malaysia. To provide the necessary background, it will first briefly address Malaysian history with regard to its plurality and Islamisation, as well as the impact of colonialism. This will be followed by an analysis of Malaysian development performance within the context of relatively stable political and social systems. The succeeding part will examine a number of important experiences and lessons that have contributed to the relative success of the Malaysian ‘experiment’, which include what some scholars call the ‘social contract’, the political system, the leadership and conflict resolution mechanism, the role of the developmentalist state and affirmative action,



gender parity, as well as governance, ethics and integrity. The final part will discuss how the question of Islam and Muslims is being addressed by both the country’s leadership, the opposition and civil society in order to engage with modernity and globalisation, as well as the contestations and tensions that have been emerging in society. The term ‘democracy’ used in this paper has to be understood in both senses: formal and substantive. By formal democracy is meant institutional democracy, that is, the institution of an electoral system to elect the country’s leaders who contest for power through their respective political parties. By substantive democracy we mean participatory democracy, or the space for the articulation of views based on the basic freedom of speech, space to participate in decision-making processes at different levels, access to opportunities, irrespective of ethnicity, gender and religion, and so on. Participatory democracy is less about achieving state power, which is done through parliamentary democracy; rather, it is about influencing state power and its policies by NGOs, community-based organisations and various interest groups. In short, while parliamentary democracy is the domain of political parties—both ruling and the opposition—to contest for power and occupy seats of government, participatory democracy is the third space in which civil society groups as well as grassroots communities try to influence state power so that it would reflect and represent the interests of the people. The term ‘democratisation’ is used here to mean both the processes of widening and deepening of democracy. On the one hand, it refers to the process of improving or reforming the electoral system as well as other shortcomings of parliamentary democracy. On the other, it also refers to the process of opening up of greater spaces for participatory democracy, for the expansion of civil society, for a more vibrant discourse of various issues affecting the citizenry, ranging from human rights to environment, religion, unity, and various other issues. Democratisation is often associated with the rise of the educated middle classes and civil society groups.

THE BACKGROUND ISLAM IN MALAYSIAN HISTORY Southeast Asia, particularly Malaysia, is not only a region where monsoons meet, but also where major cultures and religions converge. The



political entity known as Malaysia in historical times was a constituent unit in the wider Malay world or Nusantara, whose core countries today are Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines. The main component of Malaysia was referred to as the Malay Peninsula, implying that this was originally the land of people of Malay stock. However, with the march of history and especially with the coming of Western colonialism from the 16th century onwards—more so since the onslaught of British colonialism from the second half of the 19th century—the Malay Peninsula was transformed drastically from a hom*ogenous society, ethnically and culturally, to a heterogeneous one, with far-reaching consequences well beyond the imagination of those colonial administrators or planners who initiated the changes (Abdul Rahman 2002a: 39). Malaysia has been regarded by a number of writers and observers as an example of a successful predominantly Malay Muslim society in which Muslims and non-Muslims as well as Malays and non-Malays have lived side by side in relative peace and harmony, indicating a certain degree of pluralism or the public culture of acceptance of others. It should be stressed that contemporary Malaysian pluralism has long historical roots, predating colonialism. Malay culture has been historically open and accommodative, reflecting a certain degree of cosmopolitanism and openness. Many Southeast Asian coastal and riverine societies (for example, the Malacca Sultanate of the 15th century) that became plural in character during the colonial period, or saw the degree of pluralism increase, did so with very little social trauma or opposition (Wang 2001). Unlike what happened during the colonial period, there had been no invasion or coercion during the early contacts of the Malay Peninsula with the major civilisations of the world (namely, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Confucianism), and there was no change in the political entity or the loss of power of the indigenous rulers. As I have written elsewhere (Abdul Rahman 2001, 2002a), the acceptance of the ‘other’—Muslims, Hindus, Taoists, Christians, Buddhists—who came as traders, travellers, religious preachers and so on from Arabia, India, China, Europe and also from other parts of the Malay archipelago, some of whom came to settle down locally, became something rather natural, a part and parcel of the public culture of the indigenous people of the Malay Peninsula, reflecting the fact that the Malay society then was relatively open and accommodative (Abdul Rahman 2002a). Before the coming of Islam more than 800 years ago, Malays were Hindus, Buddhists and/or animists. A number of early Malay



kingdoms prior to the Malacca Sultanate (1400–1511) had Hindu or Indian influences. It is a historical fact that Indian influence lasted for many centuries in the Malay world. But the question of how deep this influence was has been a bone of serious contention among scholars, especially during the 1960s and 1970s. Refuting the Indianisation theory of the Malays, Syed Naguib Al-Attas (1965, 1972) argued that Hinduism among the Nusantara Malays was only a ‘superstructure maintained by a ruling group above an indifferent community’ (ibid. 1965: 123), that Hinduism was imposed by the authority of the ruling group with only superficial participation of the Malay masses. Thus, Al-Attas concluded that Malay society was not a Hinduised society, and the philosophical influence of Hinduism upon the Nusantara world-view has been unduly magnified. History has shown that unlike Hinduism or Buddhism, Islam was not only accepted by the court, but also by the people. Islam easily replaced Hinduism and Buddhism; the concept of the Hindu god-king was replaced with the concept of the ruler, that is, the sultan, as God’s caliph and the ‘shadow of God upon the Earth’, making him head of a religious hierarchy extending to the village level (Andaya and Andaya 1982: 53). With the adoption of Islam, Malays assumed a new identity and sense of belonging, having become part of the wider ummah in the rising Muslim world. Indeed, Islam was a unifying force politically in Nusantara, fermenting anti-colonial nationalist consciousness and ideals. As many scholar-historians have noted, the acceptance of Islam undoubtedly was a watershed in Malay history, constituting the most decisive turning point of the Malay civilising process, and ‘a momentous event in the history of Nusantara’ (Al-Attas 1965: 127). However, although Islam’s impact may have been revolutionary and more or less total as compared to Hinduism and Buddhism, there were no clashes between the two civilisations. The replacement of Hinduism and Buddhism with Islam took place slowly and peacefully. This shows the accommodative nature of the people and their culture, and also the importance of the principles of moderation and tolerance in Islam (Abdul Rahman 2002a). This pluralist culture and historical experience is a very important enabling factor that explains why Malay Muslims could work together with non-Malay non-Muslims in the struggle against the British for independence, and subsequently in building a democratic, post-independence, multi-ethnic and multireligious Malaysia.



BRITISH COLONIALISM AND ITS IMPACT Although Malaysia (then Malaya) is a new state that attained independence from colonial rule on 31 August 1957, it has a long history and civilisation in the Malay world stretching well beyond 2,000 years. The modern Malaysian political system in the form of parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy did not evolve overnight, but slowly from the traditional polity and the colonial experience. Precolonial Malaya consisted of sovereign Malay sultanates, the most important being the Malacca Sultanate (Muhammad Yusoff Hashim 1989), which lasted from 1400 to 1511, with Malacca being hailed by the famous European traveller Marco Polo as a thriving international entrepôt comparable to Venice in Italy. Since 1511, however, the fate of the Malay states changed drastically as a result of Western colonial intrusion. Suffering under the yoke of this domination for almost 450 years, it can be said that Malaya was one of the countries in Asia with the longest history of colonial subjugation. Since 1511, one Western power after another colonised Malaya, beginning with the Portuguese (1511–1641), followed by the Dutch (1641–1824), then the British (1786–1957), with a short interregnum of three years and eight months under the Japanese (1941–45). Compared to other powers, British colonialism—which lasted for almost two centuries—left the most lasting legacy on the Malaysian polity, economy, society and culture. Here, we shall briefly outline four major changes brought about by British colonialism that have direct relevance to the issue of Islam, ethnicity, governance and democratisation that is relevant for the understanding of democracy, Islam and relations between Malay Muslims and non-Malay non-Muslims in post-independence Malaysia. The first major impact of British colonialism was that the Malay feudal economy with thriving maritime trade during the Malacca Sultanate was slowly destroyed, and changed into a colonial capitalist economy producing rubber and tin for the Western industrial markets since the late 19th century. With state power and the economy taken over by the colonialists, the Malay trading class slowly but surely crumbled. Having been transformed into the biggest money-spinner in the British empire by the first half of the 20th century, Malaya was a prize colony for Britain. In fact, its contribution became extremely significant for British economic recovery, especially when the latter was faced with serious problems after the Second World War. Having



been dominated as such by British colonialism, the lopsided Malayan economy possessed all the characteristics of a satellite that was dependent upon the metropolis when the country attained independence (Puthucheary 1960). Second, British colonialism also created a ‘plural society’ (Furnivall 1956) and a colonial division of labour in Malaya. The kind of plural society created by British colonialism—which segregated the different races or ethnic groups into enclaves—was different from the pre-colonial pluralism discussed earlier. Using the excuse that the indigenous population was not prepared to participate in the modern economic sector, the British from the late 19th century onwards brought in hundreds of thousands of migrant labour from China and India to work in the tin mines and rubber estates, while the indigenous population was kept in the rural-traditional rice farming and fishing sectors. By bringing in large numbers of immigrants, they not only had changed the relatively hom*ogenous Malayan population into a heterogeneous one, but also started the identifying of ethnic groups with economic functions. Through its policy of divide and rule, different ethnic groups lived and worked in their own enclaves, separated geographically, socially, culturally and in other ways, and meeting only in the market, thus making post-independence nation-building a very complex and difficult task (Abdul Rahman 2001; Brown 1994). Third, another important development was the British policy towards the traditional Malay rulers. Unlike the Dutch in Indonesia who eliminated the traditional sultans, the British in Malaya adopted a more subtle approach by retaining the Malay rulers, but their role was reduced from being absolute monarchs to being responsible only for ‘Malay customs and religion’. However, by co-opting the sultans into the colonial state machinery and socially still at the top of the hierarchy, it gave the appearance that there was not much change in the traditional Malay polity. At the same time, by keeping the Malay peasants in the countryside with their traditional activities, the British did not disrupt too much of their life, and in this way managed to delay the emergence of effective Malay resistance against colonial rule. Fourth, although the development and expansion of modern social classes, particularly the middle and corporate classes, are a postindependence phenomenon, elements of these were already born out of the production relations created by British colonial capitalism. In traditional or pre-colonial Malay society, the class structure consisted of the sultan and the royal household at the top of the hierarchy, with



the noblemen and other dignitaries—a greater part of whom constituted the trading class—in the middle, while the rakyat (masses) and slaves remained at the bottom of the social structure. With the imposition of British colonial capitalism, this structure was radically changed. The mainstay of the economy was in the hands of the colonial (British and other Western) bourgeoisie, while internal trading and commerce were mostly in the hands of Chinese businesses and a few Indian compradores. With the sultan serving only as a figurehead, the British high commissioner and the colonial civil service held the real reins of power in the colonial state. Although some Malays were incorporated into the administration, they only occupied the lower rungs of the administrative hierarchy (Khasnor 1984; Roff 1994), while the professional middle class of engineers, doctors and those in other registered professions were mainly Chinese and Indian. At the same time, with the tin mines and rubber estates employing Chinese and Indian labour respectively, the early Malayan working class inevitably consisted of very few Malays, while the peasantry on the other hand was made up mostly of Malays. In short, the socio-economic classes in Malaya were very much divided along ethnic lines, and the issue of ethnicity and immigration became more important than that of class. Nevertheless, what is important to underline is that the birth and expansion of these classes constituted the social basis for the emergence of the democratic impulse and for modernisation in post-independence Malaysia, which was not visible during the pre-colonial and even the colonial period.

MALAYSIAN SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OVER FIVE DECADES When Malaysia attained independence, it inherited the vestiges of a lopsided colonial economy and an ethnically divided society, with the majority Malays lagging far behind. Even more than a decade later, by 1970, the picture had not changed very much despite economic growth. A few figures will suffice to show the degree of socio-economic disparity between the ethnic groups. Official data for 1970 showed that of a total share capital of RM 5329.1 million in peninsular Malaysia, Malay corporate ownership was a meagre 2.4 per cent, compared with 63.3 per cent owned by foreigners, 22.4 per cent by Chinese capitalists,



and 10.0 per cent unknown. While poverty is a class issue, there was an ethnic dimension to it. Malaysia’s overall poverty incidence was very high, standing at 51.2 per cent in 1970 (or 1.1 million households), 76 per cent of whom were Malay. It was essentially a rural phenomenon where the Malays predominated, registering a rate of 58.7 per cent as compared to 21.3 per cent in urban areas where the Chinese constituted the majority. In the field of higher education, Malays were very much underrepresented. In 1965, Malay students made up only 25.4 per cent at the University of Malaya (Malaysia’s only university then), while Chinese and Indian students were 58.9 per cent and 13.9 per cent respectively. This was not reflective of the ethnic composition of the population in 1970, of which Malays made up 52.7 per cent, the Chinese 35.8 per cent, the Indians 10.7 per cent, and the others 0.8 per cent. As tertiary education was a principal avenue for social mobility and entry into middle-class jobs, it was to be expected that Malays could only occupy a small proportion of the top middle-class occupations. For example, of the 31,353 employees in the administrative and managerial category in 1970, Malays made up only 24.1 per cent, Chinese 63.0 per cent, while Indians and others made up the remaining 12.9 per cent (Abdul Rahman 2002b: 49). Undoubtedly, this disparity was the sore point that caused frustrations and anger, particularly among the Malays, and formed the backdrop of the 13 May 1969 ethnic clashes in the capital city, Kuala Lumpur (Faaland et al. 2003). But today Malaysia has been transformed from an economic backwater to an ASEAN powerhouse. Its economy has changed from a primary producer to an industrialised one, whilst its society has been transformed from a rural traditional to a modern urbanised one, with 65 per cent of the population living in urban areas. Despite the economic downturns during various periods of its recent history, Malaysia has been able to record an impressive growth rate, averaging 7.8 per cent per annum in the 1970s, 5.9 per cent in the 1980s and 6.1 per cent in the 1990s despite the 1997–98 Asian crisis. In the first few years of the 21st century, although facing uncertainties and volatility in the international environment, it was able to record around 5 per cent growth. With this, Malaysia has been able to increase its GDP dramatically. Using 1970 as the base year when the GDP stood at RM 21.5 billion, it increased to RM 140.7 billion by 1990, RM 210.6 billion by 2000, and RM 262.0 billion by 2005 (Malaysia 2006: 50)



(US$ 1 = RM 3.60). This means that in over 30 years since 1970 the GDP increased almost 10-fold, and by 2005, it expanded almost 14 times. With such growth, Malaysia has become a second-generation ‘economic tiger’, a middle-income developing country, and the 18th largest trading nation in the world. The rapid growth and ensuing prosperity had enabled the antipoverty programmes to be carried out successfully, bringing down the absolute poverty level from 51.2 per cent in 1970 to 7 per cent in 2000, and 5.7 per cent by 2004 (Malaysia 2006: 330). Although the target of 30 per cent of corporate ownership to be in the hands of the Bumiputeras (literally, sons of the soil) by 1990 has not been met, there have been improvements since the 1970s, with Bumiputera capital making up 19.3 per cent in that year, other Malaysians (majority Chinese capitalists) 46.8 per cent, foreign capital 25.4 per cent, and nominee companies 8.5 per cent. Thanks to the rapid growth and increasing prosperity, its class structure has undergone fundamental changes, manifested by the rise and expansion of relatively large multi-ethnic middle and business classes who have become highly visible in cities and towns (Abdul Rahman 2002b). In terms of human development, Malaysia has moved from medium human development to high human development in 2006. Malaysia’s literacy rate was 94 per cent in 2002, while primary school enrolment rate stood at 97.8 per cent in the same year. Malaysia has come a long way from the turbulence of 13 May 1969, since one of its greatest strengths and assets is the relative peace and civility of its multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. Although tensions and contestations exist, its diverse ethnic and religious communities have generally been united, upholding the culture of pluralist tolerance and accommodation, and its political system generally stable over the years. With such performance, Malaysia has been able to be a key player in ASEAN and a pioneer the formation of the East Asian Community, with the first East Asian Summit held in Kuala Lumpur in December 2005. It has also been a consistent champion of the cause of Palestine and the Muslim ummah, has initiated and sustained the South–South Dialogue, and made its mark on the global map as one of the spokespeople of the Third World. Thus, it is not far off the mark when an international strategic thinker and analyst, Keniche Ohmae (1995: 120), concluded that Malaysia is ‘the most industrially advanced Islamic nation in the world’, and it still maintains that position today. Based on Vision 2020, espoused by the former Prime Minister



Mahathir Mohamad in 1991, Malaysia aspires to be a fully developed country within ‘its own mould’ (read: different from the model of the developed West) by 2020 (Mahathir 1991), and the country’s current leadership is confident that it is on track.

EXPERIENCES AND LESSONS IN MANAGING DEMOCRACY AND ISLAM IN A MULTI-ETHNIC AND MULTI-RELIGIOUS COUNTRY Let us first have a look at Malaysia’s diversity in terms of ethnicity and religion. Malaysia (then Malaya) at the time of independence had a population of 6.3 million, consisting of almost 50 per cent Bumiputeras made up of Malays and other indigenous groups, 37.1 per cent Chinese, 12 per cent Indians and 1.0 per cent others. Today, Malaysia’s population has quadrupled to 26 million. Of this total, over 60 per cent are Bumiputeras, followed by 25 per cent Chinese, 7 per cent Indians and 3 per cent others, while non-citizens (mostly Indonesian migrant workers) constitute a significant proportion of 7 per cent. By religion, 60 per cent of the population are Muslims, while the rest are Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Taoists, Sikhs and others. Why is it that, despite such diversity, Malaysia has been able to maintain a parliamentary democratic system, inter-ethnic peace as well as religious tolerance that together have contributed towards political stability, national unity, and impressive economic development and growth? What lessons can be learnt from the Malaysian ‘experiment’? In this section, we shall examine some key experiences that will throw some light on these questions. For analytical convenience, these experiences and lessons are divided into seven parts. 1. Constitutional arrangements as the basis of unity and nationbuilding. 2. The role of leadership, parliamentary rule and conflict resolution mechanism. 3. The developmentalist state and the principle of ‘growth with distribution’. 4. Gender parity and women’s empowerment.



5. Human rights, integrity and role of civil society. 6. Islamic administration and the dual legal system. 7. Political discourses on Islam within the bounds of parliamentary democracy.

CONSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS AS THE BASIS OF UNITY AND NATION-BUILDING Given the specific history of Malaysia, which historically had consisted of a number of Malay kingdoms, and the subsequent ethnic and religious diversity, an agreement termed by some scholars as a ‘social contract’1 was achieved through a ‘historic bargain’ (Cheah 2002: 2, 36–39) between the major ethnic groups—Malays, Chinese and Indians—via their respective political parties, namely, United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC). They joined together to form the Alliance. The ‘historic bargain’ was made through their joint representations to the Reid Commission entrusted with the drafting of the federal constitution to ensure that the newly independent state would be able to function effectively and not be torn apart because of ethnic and religious strife. The essence of the constitutional arrangements or the ‘social contract’ was that the special position of the Malays as the indigenous people of the country would be enshrined in the constitution, and, in return, the non-Malays, namely, the Chinese and Indians, would be granted citizenship of the new federation. As pointed out by Cheah (ibid.: 36–37), ‘For UMNO, the trappings of a Malay state had to be preserved. The Malays had to be given political primacy. On the other hand, for the MCA and the MIC, the terms of citizenship had to become as open and loose as possible to the non-Malays and their rights had to be protected.’ He further emphasised: The Alliance memorandum to the Reid Commission had, in fact, agreed to all the features of a Malay state: ‘special position of the Malays’, ‘Malay as the national language’, ‘Islam as the official religion’, and the Malay rulers as the ‘constitutional monarchs’. There were also ‘Malay land reservations’ and ‘reservation for Malays of a certain proportion of jobs in the civil service’ (ibid.: 37)



The federal Constitution contains several basic elements that define the form and parameters of the new nation-state. According to former lord president, Tun Mohamed Suffian (1990), there are seven basic elements of the Constitution: 1. Malaysia is a federal state (Article 1). However, it is not only a federal state, but a state with a strong central government. 2. A constitutional monarchy is put in place (Articles 39 and 40). Playing the role of the head of state, the monarchy symbolises the continuity of the Malay traditional polity as well as serves as a rallying point of unity. 3. A parliamentary democracy (Article 44) is instituted as opposed to other types of democratic systems. 4. Islam is declared as the official religion of the federation, but it does not provide for Malaysia to be a theocratic state, and clearly guarantees the freedom to practise other religions (Article 4[1]). In this regard, various other religions such as Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism are allowed. 5. The sanctity of the constitution and freedom based on the law (Article 4[1]) is guaranteed. 6. Separation of powers between the executive, legislative and the judiciary (Article 128). 7. An independent judiciary not subject to Parliament or executive control. This constitutional arrangement has withstood the test of time. Despite its inherent contradictions and tensions, it was its acceptance and implementation that has enabled Malaysia to evolve over the last five decades as a relatively peaceful and stable nation.

THE ROLE OF LEADERSHIP, PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION MECHANISMS Role of Leadership Over the last five decades, Malaysia has had five leaders serving as prime ministers, all of them Muslim, and from the dominant Malay Muslim party, UMNO. They are: 1. Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra (1957–70); 2. Tun Abdul Razak Hussein (1970–76);



3. Tun Hussein Onn (1976–81); 4. Tun Mahathir Mohamad (1981–October 2003); and 5. Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (October 2003 onwards). All these leaders were committed to parliamentary democracy and to the spirit of the social contract, namely the notion of power-sharing. Malaysia’s founding father, Tunku Abdul Rahman, was noted for his relatively liberal outlook of multiculturalism, and religious tolerance and accommodation. His successor, Tun Abdul Razak, was noted for his administrative ability and focus on development, and was instrumental in introducing the affirmative action policy and state-in-development strategy. Hussein Onn continued Tun Razak’s policies and consolidated his achievements. Mahathir was the longest serving Prime Minister, having ruled for 22 years. He was a strong leader, who evolved from a position labelled as ‘Malay ultra’ to becoming a respected, though often faulted, Malaysian leader and statesman. He was responsible for various key policies that intensified Malaysia’s industrialisation and modernisation, and pioneered a number of policies that steered the country away from the traditional Western bloc by introducing the ‘Look East Policy’. He also introduced liberalisation, privatisation and deregulation policies, undertook mega infrastructure projects, as well as introduced the idea of Malaysia becoming a developed nation by 2020 and the ICT revolution via the setting up of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC). Mahathir’s successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, although at the helm only since late 2003, has made his mark on the national and regional landscape by winning the biggest victory for the Barisan Nasional in the 2004 elections. He introduced a more consultative leadership style, refocused the development agenda on human development and the development of human capital, and the enhancement of ethics and integrity as well as the fight against corruption. All the leaders paid a great deal of attention to Islam and the plight of Muslims as well as to religious tolerance and understanding. Whilst the first Prime Minister was noted for his efforts in introducing the Musabaqah or the Quran reading competition at both national and international levels, and established the Perkim (Malaysian Muslim Welfare Organisation), whose function was to help and facilitate new Muslim converts learn Islam and adapt to the Muslim way of life, Mahathir was also instrumental in making a number of important changes in Islamic administration, and in advocating change in the



mindset of Muslims so that they could engage effectively with the modern world. After taking over power in 1981, he initiated the move to integrate Islamic values in the administration and introduced the administrative ethos of a ‘clean, efficient and trustworthy’ government. He also set up Islamic banking and related financial institutions to run parallel with conventional banking, and founded the Malaysian International Islamic University in 1983. His successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, himself a scholar coming from a lineage of distinguished scholars (his father and grandfather were noted ulamas), continued with Mahathir’s efforts, and raising it to a new level of discourse and Islamic reforms by introducing what he termed the ‘Islam hadhari’ (see sections later for further discussion).

Practice of Parliamentary Democracy and Elections Malaysia practises parliamentary democracy and holds general elections regularly. The process of democratisation in the form of the holding of general elections based on the principle of ‘one citizen, one vote’ was introduced in the early 1950s by the British, beginning first with the Kuala Lumpur municipality election. This was followed by the 1955 general election towards self-rule which saw the Alliance of UMNO–MCA–MIC led by Tunku Abdul Rahman winning a resounding victory. It was to this Alliance (the precursor to the present Barisan Nasional or National Front of 14 political parties formed in 1974) that the British handed over power in 1957. Since independence until today, Malaysia has held 11 general elections—in 1959, 1964, 1969, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1995, 1999 and 2004. The Barisan Nasional won all of the elections, with the biggest victory being in 2004 in which it captured 90 per cent of all 219 parliamentary seats. Except for 1969, all the other elections were smooth, with only minor glitches. The voter turnout has generally been high, between 70 per cent and 75 per cent, indicating a high level of voter consciousness and participation in the electoral process. Whilst there have been some irregularities in the electoral process, with charges of vote buying and gerrymandering (Puthucheary and Norani Othman 2005), on the whole, the electoral system and the voting process, managed and supervised by the Malaysian Election Commission, as well as the election results, in the main, have been accepted by both the ruling coalition (Barisan Nasional) and the opposition parties. However, this does not mean that dissatisfied parties do not challenge the outcome



of some constituencies in open court. Nevertheless, what is germane for a functioning institutional democracy is that all the political players and the voters have accepted the rules of the game, though there are demands that the rules must not only be fair on paper but fair in practice.

Conflict Resolution Mechanisms In this regard, it is important to highlight one election, the one held on 10 May 1969, which was marred with ethnic and religious tensions that subsequently translated into bloody riots on 13 May. As a result, an emergency rule was imposed with the suspension of Parliament for 18 months, with the country being ruled by the National Operations Council (NOC). This was the biggest test of the social contract and parliamentary democracy. However, parliamentary rule was soon restored, with no interruptions subsequently. The strategies and mechanisms used to rebuild a new consensus as well as to renew and sustain the commitment to the social contract and parliamentary democracy as provided by the constitution are important as these are still in place today. These strategies and mechanisms can be analysed at three levels. First, commitment to the ideology of nation-building through the formulation of Rukunegara (National Ideology equivalent to Indonesia’s Pancasila) in late-1969 and 1970. The Rukunegara reiterates the country’s commitment to national unity, democracy, social justice, and a liberal and progressive society, as well as commitment to the five pillars of the nation: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Belief in God. Loyalty to king and country. Sanctity of the constitution. Rule of law. Ethical behaviour and morality.

The spirit and principles of Rukunegara have been inculcated among schoolchildren and also used as guiding principles in managing issues and problems of unity between ethnic and religious groups. Second, the strategy of controlled ‘politicking’. This was done in several ways, the main ones being: 1. The introduction of new laws, namely, the Sedition Act in 1971, ostensibly to prevent the discussion in public of what is termed



as ‘sensitive’ issues such as the special position of the Malays, the question of religion, and so on. 2. The expansion in 1974 of the three-party Alliance to a bigger set-up called the Barisan Nasional. The concept of consociational politics practised by the Alliance earlier had been grafted on to the Barisan Nasional, which consists of 14 political parties, including a few parties that previously served as the opposition. Sensitive issues, particularly those touching on ethnicity and religion, are to be discussed behind closed doors, and not to be slugged out in public. 3. The setting up of the National Consultative Council as a platform for various stakeholders of different ethnic and religious groups, and other sectors to deliberate on socio-economic matters so as to serve as inputs for policy formulation. 4. The setting up of the Advisory Panel on National Unity to serve as a platform to debate issues to promote unity and integration of the people of various ethnic groups, religions and regions. Third, the introduction of the affirmative action policy and strategy of state-in-development via the formulation and implementation of the New Economic Policy (NEP) over a long-term period of 20 years (1971 to 1990). This will be discussed in the following section.

DEVELOPMENTALIST STATE, AFFIRMATIVE POLICIES AND GROWTH WITH DISTRIBUTION One of the most important lessons of Malaysia’s development is the role of the developmentalist state, its affirmative action policies, and the principle of growth with distribution. While it is acknowledged that the market is very important, and that the state has been marketfriendly, the issue of distribution cannot be left to the operations of the market forces alone, as it needs the equalising hand of the interventionist state. The role of the state in the Malaysian socio-economic transformation since 1957 until the close of the 20th century and beyond can be divided into four distinct phases: 1. The so-called laissez-faire period (1957–69). 2. The interventionist period (1970–85). 3. The period of private-sector-led growth through privatisation and liberalisation (1986–97).



4. The period of reassertion of state’s role in the economy to serve as a catalyst to kick-start economic growth following the 1997–98 financial and economic crisis. During the so-called laissez-faire period of Malaysia’s independence, that is, from 1957 to 1969, although the state played a regulatory role, provided utilities and promoted capital-intensive importsubstitution industrialisation, its role was generally restrained and non-interventionist, leaving the most important sector of the economy, the development of commerce and industry, to private enterprise, both foreign and local (Jesudason 1990). Thus, capacity development was left more to individual and private sector initiative rather than something planned and executed by the state. As a result, poverty and unemployment was high, especially among Bumiputeras, and opportunities for higher education and upward mobility for them were limited. But things changed after that. The main factor contributing to this state of affairs was the developmental role played by the Malaysian state, which put into effect certain policies and strategies following the 1969 debacle. This package of policies—known as the New Economic Policy, with a two-pronged objective of eradicating poverty irrespective of ethnicity and restructuring society to remove the identification of economic function with ethnicity—was implemented over a period of 20 years from 1971 to 1990 with a view to strengthening national unity through inter-ethnic balance (Faaland et al. 2003). Implementing affirmative action measures on behalf of the relatively backward Bumiputeras, the state upheld the principle of ‘growth with distribution’, launched export-oriented industrialisation, wooed foreign investors, restructured occupational patterns, expanded educational opportunities especially at tertiary level, and started the massive outward migration of Malays from the countryside to seek urban jobs. This long-term policy contained the spirit of the social contract and was a crucial vehicle marking the beginning of active state intervention. It was instrumental not only in transforming Malaysia economically and socially, but, equally importantly, in maintaining national unity and social peace between people of different ethnic groups, religions and regions. Some examples will suffice. To address equity participation, the government adopted the ‘government-in-business’ strategy and established a number of state-owned enterprises, one of the most



significant and successful being Permodalan Nasional Berhad (the National Equity Corporation or PNB) formed in 1978. Placed under the jurisdiction of the Yayasan Pelaburan Bumiputera (Bumiputera Investment Foundation or YPB), which is chaired by the Prime Minister, the PNB served as an investment house and fund manager by purchasing shares in companies to be held in trust by it or through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Amanah Saham Nasional Berhad (ASNB) for Bumiputera individual investors (Gomez and Jomo 1997: 34–35). To facilitate PNB acquisitions, the government provided it large grants and interest-free loans via the YPB. Armed with massive funds, the PNB launched successful takeover bids on a number of foreigncontrolled conglomerates involved in nationally strategic sectors—for example, several plantation companies that owned hundreds of thousands of hectares of prime land such as Guthrie Corporation PLC in 1981; Harrisons and Crosfield Limited in 1982, and earlier, the Malaysian Mining Corporation (MMC), which was involved in tin mining (Abdul Rahman 2002b: 52). At the same time, the PNB acquired sizeable stakes in a number of public listed companies while the Ministry of Finance and government statutory bodies also transferred shares to the corporation. What should be stressed is that the state’s interventionist policy did not involve nationalisation of assets either owned by foreign or domestic capital. The redistribution was made possible from the growth and expansion of the economic cake; the takeover of strategic assets indicated earlier was done not through nationalisation, but through market operations. Thus, the state was able to maintain a marketfriendly environment and managed to attract foreign investment at the same time. However, the NEP’s objective of 30 per cent Bumiputera ownership of corporate wealth in Malaysia by 1990 has not been met. According to official figures, by 1990, Bumiputera corporate ownership amounted to 19.3 per cent, other Malaysians 46.8 per cent, foreigners 25.4 per cent, while nominee companies accounted for 8.5 per cent. By 1999, after the Asian financial and economic crisis, the foreign share had increased to 32.7 per cent, while Bumiputera ownership fell slightly to 19.1 per cent, other Malaysians to 40.3 per cent, and nominee companies to 7.9 per cent (Malaysia 2001: 64). Also noteworthy were efforts to redress the imbalance in education, particularly at the tertiary level. The significance given to education can be seen from the annual allocation the Malaysian government sets



aside for this sector, which receives between one-fifth and one-quarter of the total public sector expenditure every year. A large portion of this allocation is devoted to tertiary education. While before 1969 there was only one university, the University of Malaya, with only a quarter of the student population consisting of Bumiputeras, from 1969 onwards, one university after another was set up, currently numbering 20 public universities, 33 private universities, 526 private colleges, and five branch campuses of foreign universities. To ensure a more equitable representation of students of various ethnic groups at the tertiary level, the government has implemented a 60:40 ratio of Bumiputera to non-Bumiputera students in public institutions of higher learning. At the same time, since the 1970s, scholarships, bursaries and loans had been disbursed by the government to deserving students, particularly to Bumiputeras, to study in various universities abroad, namely, in the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada, while others continued at local universities. Student enrolment in local public universities numbered 52,180 in 1990, and increased to 87,891 by 1995 and 201,271 in 2000 (Malaysia 2001: 99). This figure does not include the number of university students overseas, which in 1995 totalled more than 50,000. The proportion of the 17–23 age cohort in Malaysia enrolled in higher institutions of learning increased dramatically from less than 2 per cent in 1970 to 25 per cent in 2000, and this figure was expected to increase to 40 per cent by 2010. To improve capacity in science and technology, the government instituted a policy of increasing the number of university intake in the science stream to 60 per cent to be achieved by 2010 from 52 per cent in 2000. As the government in recent years has considerably scaled down the award of scholarships and other grants, it has set up the National Higher Education Fund (NHEF) to facilitate accessibility to higher education, especially for students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. This loan fund is made available not only to students in public universities, but also to those in private institutions of higher learning. The fund was increased from RM 1 billion to RM 2.3 billion by 2000, thus benefiting a larger number of students (ibid.: 103). The expansion of higher education, which is a very important avenue for social mobility, has contributed significantly to the growth and expansion of the new middle class in Malaysia. Higher education with state assistance has enabled many Bumiputera children to receive university education, thus increasing their visibility and representation



in the ranks of professionals and managers in the country (Abdul Rahman 2002b). With rapid economic growth and prosperity, the class structure has also undergone fundamental changes, manifested by the rise of more multi-ethnic middle and business classes. It was the public sector reform through active state intervention in the economy and society— especially through various capacity development initiatives such as equity participation and educational opportunities—undertaken since the early 1970s that has brought the Bumiputera community into mainstream development and contributed significantly to the transformation and relative peace and prosperity of the country (ibid.).

GENDER PARITY AND WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT One measure of progress of any society is the advancement of its women and improvements in gender parity. In Malaysia women constitute about 50 per cent of its population, the majority of whom are Muslims. The greater the degree of modernisation and democratisation, the wider the opportunities for women in various fields, including in positions of public office, thus contributing towards greater gender parity. Whilst the target of 30 per cent participation of women in decision-making bodies has not been achieved, the progress made is significant. The Malaysian government’s recognition of the status and role of women can be seen through its gender and development planning (for example, the National Policy on Women), legal provisions in the federal constitution (non-discrimination on basis of sex), employment legislation (equal pay), and other laws such as separate income tax assessment, Women and Girls’ Protection Act, and so on. As an illustration to underline the commitment and political will on the part of the government leadership regarding the advancement of women and efforts at gender parity, the government in 2001 elevated the Women’s Affairs Division in the Prime Minister’s Department to become a full-fledged Ministry of Women, Family and Social Development with a woman minister, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, a Muslim, in charge. The ministry has made an important impact on the quest for women’s advancement and gender parity. In the words of the minister: When the ministry was formed, the first thing we did was to convince the government to amend Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution to disallow



gender-based discrimination. It is now the mother of all laws. . . . [It] enables the ministry to audit all other existing laws, regulations and policies to check if they are discriminatory to both men and women (Star Special 2005: 4; emphasis added).

An important milestone in this regard was the decision by the Malaysian Cabinet in 2004 to increase the proportion of women decisionmakers in all sectors of the government to 30 per cent. Such progress obviously would not have been achieved without concerted struggles and demands by NGOs, particularly women’s NGOs, and the initiative and support of enlightened political leaders.2

Importance of NGOs as Partners in Fighting for Progressive Policies Malaysia has to navigate carefully between the Muslim conservative orthodoxy and Islamic modernism to espouse progress for women, particularly Muslim women. Despite the strong conservative religious pull in some quarters, women have made important strides in various fields of national development, especially in education and health, in the economy and labour market, as well as in power-sharing, thanks to the rapid growth of the Malaysian economy and change in social values towards women. What is important is that the country’s leadership has responded to some of the important demands made by women’s organisations towards gender parity. The most important first step towards gender equality and women’s empowerment is the adoption of the National Policy for Women (NPW) in 1989, and with that, women’s and gender issues have been given special attention in Malaysia’s fiveyear plan documents from the Sixth Malaysia Plan (1991–95) onwards. Since the 1990s this progress has become more pronounced with the implementation of the NPW, the government’s acceptance and ratification—although with some reservations—of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), as well as the adoption of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action for the Advancement of Women. Civil society organisations championing gender parity have been playing important roles in this direction. The government and NGOs have been working together to push for the improvement of women’s status. In fact, about 220 NGOs, coordinated by the National Council of Women’s Organisations (NCWO), the umbrella body for women NGOs, have been mobilised to work for women’s advancement and gender equality.



Importance of Education The role of education, particularly higher education, in promoting women’s mobility and advancement is very significant. Enrolment of women in primary and secondary schools had progressed since independence in tandem with the greater access to education. By 1970, females made up 46.8 per cent of primary school enrolment, 40.6 per cent of secondary and 42.6 per cent of post-secondary. Data on enrolment at primary and secondary levels indicated near equal proportions of male and female students by around 1985–90 and the trend continues, with females making up 52.3 per cent of student enrolment at the upper secondary level by 2000. What is very striking is the rapid progress women have made in education, especially higher education. In fact, they have overtaken male students in this respect. While the early 1990s, saw the closing of the gap in the ratio of male to female students, after 1995, female students exceeded male students in local institutions of higher learning. Female intake into universities rose sharply, from 29.1 per cent in 1970 to 37.2 per cent in 1990, 50 per cent in 1995 and 55 per cent in 2000, and the trend continues. However, women’s labour force participation has yet to increase significantly. They constituted only 31.4 per cent of the total labour force in 1990, 33.9 per cent in 1995 and 34.5 per cent in 2000. In other words, of the total labour force, slightly more than one-third are women, as opposed to almost two-thirds men. At the same time, among women, there is an increasing rate of female labour force participation, from 37.2 per cent in 1970 to 43.5 per cent in 1995 to 45.8 per cent in 1997. But due to the 1997–98 economic crisis, their participation rate fell to 44 per cent in 1998 though it picked up again to 45.8 per cent in 2000.

Openness in Social Structure and Mindset Change For women to move horizontally, and more so vertically, the social structure has to be relatively open, while mindsets have to change. In many ways, the social structure in Malaysia is quite open, and attitudes towards women, particularly prejudices against them holding key posts, have changed in various ways. As such, we see an improvement in women’s status in various occupational categories. For example, an increasing proportion of women are entering uppermiddle-class occupations in the professional and technical as well as administrative and managerial categories. While in 1990, 9.4 per cent



of working women were in the professional and technical category, the figure rose slightly to 12.7 per cent in 1995 and 13.5 per cent in 2000. This compares favourably to men whose proportion in the professional and technical category was lower—6.5 per cent in 1990, 8.4 per cent in 1995 and 8.9 per cent in 2000. Women have made significant inroads into the top echelons of various administrative and managerial posts that previously were the monopoly of men. For example, women have been appointed as heads of several government ministries and departments, and chief executive officers (CEOs) of companies. Also, very significantly, a woman is currently heading Bank Negara Malaysia (Central Bank of Malaysia), while the last attorney-general, the top post in the legal service, was also a woman. Two of Malaysia’s premier universities have women as their vice-chancellors since 2006. Over and above that, women have been playing important roles in the political domain, with a number of them holding important political positions such as ministers, deputy ministers, parliamentary secretaries and positions of leadership in political parties. Efforts to promote gender equality, along with the economic progress of the country, undoubtedly have given rise to the significant achievements of Malaysian women in key socio-economic areas, including education, economy, decision-making and power-sharing. However, gaps still exist, concerns on the role and status of women continue to prevail, and further improvements are necessary to remove persistent barriers as well as to consolidate the gains and progress made thus far. One clear example is the male-dominated civil service. While a few highly qualified women have broken through the ‘glass ceiling’, men still hold the key decision-making positions in Malaysia. The proportion of women in the administrative and managerial category is still very low, in fact, far lower than the proportion of men. In 1990, 2.8 per cent of the male labour force was employed in this category, rising to 3.9 per cent in 1995 and 4.9 per cent in 2000. Among women, only 0.6 per cent were in the administrative and managerial category in 1990, rising slowly to 1.8 per cent in 1995 and 2.2 per cent in 2000. Female workers had been dominant in the clerical, services and sales sectors. Existing trends in the public sector display a pyramidal structure, with male administrators and managers at the apex and the females mostly in the less powerful and in the lower-paid jobs. Similarly, men continue to predominate in the private sector, particularly at the higher executive and management levels.



However, the most important lesson here is Malaysia’s early realisation of the importance of investing in education for human development, especially the provision of free education (no school fees) for primary and secondary schooling, irrespective of sex, ethnicity and religion. This policy, coupled with other moves, has brought significant changes to women’s status and the society’s mindset regarding women’s potential, and to some extent have broken down gender prejudices. In this way, it has opened up greater democratic spaces and strengthened participatory democracy in the country for men and women, including Muslims.

HUMAN RIGHTS, INTEGRITY AND ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY The rapid growth of an educated middle class in Malaysia whose members have become conscious of the need for democracy, human rights and integrity has contributed significantly towards the growth of the third sector, namely, civil society. The international movement in support of human rights and civil liberties has made its impact inside the country, giving further boost to the struggles for greater democratic space. The emergence of civil society organisations has become increasingly visible from the 1980s and they continued to play important roles in the 1990s and in the first decade of the 21st century. Concomitant with such growth, we find that criticisms of police highhandedness, abuse of power and corruption, as well as the demands for a greater democratic space and respect for human rights, integrity and curbing corruption throughout the public sector and society have become more strident. These demands were brought to a high pitch in 1998 and 1999 with the birth of the Reformasi movement following the removal, trial and imprisonment of Mahathir’s former deputy and anointed successor, a highly influential Malay Muslim leader, Anwar Ibrahim, on 2 September 1998 amidst the raging Asian financial crisis. The beating of a blindfolded Anwar while in police custody at the Federal Police Headquarters by none other than the inspector-general of police, Abdul Rahim Noor, added further fuel to the struggle for human rights and against police brutality. Anwar’s trial and his 12year conviction on charges of corruption and sodomy were perceived to be unfair and politically motivated, thus leading to further erosion of the judiciary’s credibility. Charges of corruption, malpractices, abuse of power as well as authoritarianism of the Mahathir administration



became the battlecry of Anwar and the Reformasi movement. The frustration and anger over the Anwar affair and other issues led to a convergence of various interests, which translated into protest votes against UMNO in the 10th general election held in November 1999. Although the Barisan Nasional won, UMNO was bruised as it lost considerable Malay Muslim support to the opposition, namely the Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS). However, in the 11th general election held in March 2004, the Barisan Nasional led by Mahathir’s successor—Abdullah Ahmad Badawi—won a resounding victory, capturing 90 per cent of the parliamentary seats, and regained lost ground in the Malay heartland. PAS got a severe beating on their own turf by losing the state of Terengganu and almost losing the state of Kelantan. The wave of Reformasi was rolled back. Following Mahathir’s retirement and Abdullah’s appointment, the Reformasi fever dissipated. On 2 September 2004, exactly six years after Anwar’s sacking, the highest Malaysian court that heard Anwar’s appeal released him from prison. This gave further credibility to Abdullah, raising hopes for the restoration of the independence of the judiciary, and the healing of ‘old wounds’ among the Malay Muslims who had been sharply divided during the Mahathir era. What are the factors that have led to this big change? From the perspective of democratisation, they revolve around what has been referred to as the ‘Abdullah factor’. This includes his non-confrontational and consultative leadership style and, more importantly, his agenda for change, which addresses most of the issues advocated by the Reformasi movement, thus taking the wind off its sails. We shall highlight here a few of these major changes. Responding to both internal and international developments on the protection of human rights, the Malaysian government in 2000 set up the Malaysian Commission on Human Rights (SUHAKAM) via an Act of Parliament. Although its recommendations are not binding on the government, SUHAKAM has served as a very important platform and vehicle for citizens—Muslims and non-Muslims—to raise issues pertaining to the violation of human rights, police brutality, arrest without trial under the Internal Security Act, prison conditions and so on, thus contributing to the enhancing of human rights discourse and awareness, and to the processes of enlarging the public space. The Commission had organised many hearings and roadshows, visited prison cells, and submitted their annual report to Parliament.



When Abdullah took over in October 2003, he gave further boost to SUHAKAM by responding to its reports on charges of police brutality, violation of human rights, and corruption, particularly in the police. In this regard, he proposed the setting up of the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police (henceforth referred to as the Royal Commission). It was officially set up on 4 February 2004 by the king under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1950, and headed by the former chief judge, Tun Mohammed Dzaiddin Haji Abdullah. The Commission had the following terms of reference (Royal Commission 2005: 1): 1. to inquire into the role and responsibilities of the Royal Malaysia Police in enforcing the laws of the country; 2. to inquire into the work ethics and operating procedures of members of the Royal Malaysia Police; 3. to inquire into issues of human rights, including those involving women, in connection with the work of the Royal Malaysia Police; 4. to inquire into the organisational structure and distribution of human resources of the Royal Malaysia Police; 5. to inquire into the human resource development, including training and facilities, of members of the Royal Malaysia Police; and 6. to make recommendations for the improvement and modernisation of the Royal Malaysia Police. The approach taken by the Commission is indicative of the increasing respect for views from stakeholders. As indicated in the report, a landmark document in the country’s history, the Commission held public inquiries throughout the country; obtained feedback from various organisations and the public through memoranda, letters and the Commission’s website; organised several briefings by top-ranking police officers and visited police formations; had discussions with various stakeholder agencies and organisations, both government and private; consulted experts; and made study visits to several police organisations overseas to observe best practices and learn from their experiences. The report—which is very comprehensive, covering all aspects of the terms of reference—takes note of the changes in the political and social environment governing policing, namely, ‘the rapid development and empowerment of civil society’, ‘greater consciousness regarding issues affecting human rights’, as well as rights of women



and children; ‘expectations of better service from public agencies, including the police’; ‘demands for greater transparency and accountability from government’; and ‘the trend towards engaging civil society and the private sector in policy-making and governance’ (ibid.: 2–3). The report clearly underlines its strategic objective as being ‘to transform the Royal Malaysia Police into a world-class, twenty-first century organisation that is efficient, clean and trustworthy, dedicated to serving the people and the nation with integrity and respect for human rights’ (ibid.: 8). With that in view, the Commission proposes 10 strategic thrusts, and makes 125 recommendations towards the realisation of that objective. Another historic milestone in the country’s efforts towards ensuring ethics and integrity and maintaining its competitiveness in the face of globalisation was the formulation and implementation of the National Integrity Plan (NIP). Recognising that Malaysia should not be a victim of its success, and that the latter must be properly managed, an honest admission of its weaknesses and serious efforts at rectifying them were necessary. As stated by the prime minister in his foreword to the NIP, for Malaysia to be more successful, ‘its successes have to be managed effectively and its weaknesses and shortcomings have to be overcome’ (Malaysia 2004: vii). The government is also very concerned with the prevalence and perception of corruption in the country, as measured by the international agency Transparency International (TI). In 2003, based on TI’s survey of 133 countries, Malaysia was ranked on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) at number 37, with a score of 5.2 (10 points being the cleanest), while Finland has consistently been achieving the top position with a score of almost 10 points. The work towards formulating the NIP went into top gear following the directive made by the prime minister in November 2003, a few months before he proposed the setting up of the Royal Commission discussed earlier. The approach used to formulate the NIP was also consultative. Views from stakeholders representing various branches of the public service, private sector, civil society organisations, political parties from both sides of the divide, religious groups, women’s groups, trade unions, youth and student groups, minority groups, as well as the poor and low-income groups in both urban and rural areas were solicited, a commendable effort to reflect the views and aspirations of the broadest sections of people and the country’s leadership. Study visits to countries, namely, Finland, Sweden and Australia, and organisations such as the Transparency



International Secretariat in Berlin to study best practices on ethics and integrity were also made. The overall objective of the NIP—launched by the prime minister on 23 April 2004—is to realise the aspirations of Vision 2020, which is ‘to establish a fully moral and ethical society whose citizens are strong in religious and spiritual values and imbued with the highest ethical standards’ (ibid.: vii, 18). The NIP’s implementation will be carried out in stages of five years, with the first phase being the period 2004–8. For the first phase, the NIP is set to achieve five targets, known as Target 2008: 1. Effectively reduce corruption, malpractices and abuse of power. 2. Increase efficiency of the public delivery system and overcome bureaucratic red tape. 3. Enhance corporate governance and business ethics. 4. Strengthen the family institution. 5. Improve the quality of life and people’s well-being (ibid.: 26). Together with the launching of the NIP, the Integrity Institute of Malaysia (IIM) was set up, whose function is to monitor and coordinate the implementation of the Plan. The all-inclusive plan takes a holistic approach towards the fight against corruption and other malaise in society. Whilst it is extremely crucial for the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) to take both preventive and punitive measures in the fight against corruption, the campaign has to be integrated within the broader and long-term agenda of strengthening ethics and integrity in all sectors of society. Based on the NIP, the government has also introduced the Key Performance Index (KPI), which is an instrument to measure the effectiveness of public agencies and Members of Parliament in delivering public goods. As pointed out in the NIP, the most important ingredient in enhancing integrity and eradicating corruption is a strong political will, manifested in the willingness to act without fear or favour, including against those in leadership positions of the party and the government. The prime minister has shown that he has such will and the courage of his convictions. The two high-profile arrests made in 2004 of a cabinet minister and a former managing director of the state steel corporation, Perwaja, on charges of corruption were seen as the beginning of a sustained campaign to combat corruption at the highest levels. At the same time, the prime minister, who is also president of



UMNO, has ordered tough action against political corruption within the ranks of his own party. While earlier actions against the lower ranks of the party were seen as only acting against ‘the small fry’, the three-year suspension from the party imposed on Mohamad. Isa Abdul Samad, a cabinet minister and UMNO vice-president (the third most senior party leader), for breaching party discipline by indulging in vote buying in the September 2004 party elections was indicative of Abdullah’s determination to root out corruption not only in the government, but also in his party, and in acting against ‘the big fish’.3 All the moves discussed earlier have received widespread support from the public, NGOs and the private sector, including multinational corporations. It demonstrates that there can be a synergy between the state, private sector and civil society in making the necessary changes for the improvement of society. These experiences and lessons also show that a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country like Malaysia, with Muslims being in the majority and whose leadership consists mostly of Muslims, can put in place a workable parliamentary democratic system and respond positively to moves towards democratisation, provided certain fundamental principles are upheld by the leaders and the people. Nevertheless, progress is rather slow and painstaking in some areas. This is very clear in the fight against corruption which has been facing an uphill battle against entrenched powerful vested interests, requiring the full support of the cabinet and all other branches of the state, private seats and society. Another realm needs to be addressed—it relates to Islam and the problem of the Muslims among themselves and between Muslims and non-Muslims. Addressing this issue in a constructive and proactive manner by upholding the spirit of democratic consultation or musyawarah, dialogue and respect for difference is critical. Furthermore, in order to address a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society like Malaysia, it is necessary to develop a shared vision of the future, which is inclusive not only of people of different faiths, but also of different political persuasions and communities. Contestations of visions, especially among people of different faiths and communities, have to be handled not by force or coercion, but by understanding them and constructively engaging with them. What should be done is to seek out and disseminate universal values that promote peace, cooperation and justice present in all faiths in order to pave the way for better inter-faith understanding and dialogue.



We shall discuss this issue of Islam and Muslims in the two sections that follow.

ISLAMIC ADMINISTRATION AND THE DUAL LEGAL SYSTEM The Islamic administration and the dual (or parallel) legal system in post-independence Malaysia have their roots in the processes instituted under British colonialism. However, they have undergone important changes while maintaining certain continuities. During the colonial period, the British introduced English education for the elite, but they did not contribute significantly towards the development of Malay vernacular education, more so Islamic education. Malay education was only up to primary six, while Islamic education was left to the mosques and the pondok (traditional religious schools) to manage. Although the British left the power over Islam in the hands of the respective sultans, in terms of the administration of the syari’a, they took several important steps that have consequences to this day. They enabled the setting up of a majlis agama or religious council in each state, with a mufti (head of religious officialdom) as well as kadi (Muslim judge) being appointed to assist the sultan in administering religious affairs and to oversee the implementation of the syari’a court system. Administrative reforms also led to the coordination and regulation of Muslim institutions such as the zakat (tithes) and wakaf (a form of public donation) collection, and the pilgrimage procedures (Hussin Mutalib 1990: 16). The independent federation of Malaysia consists of 14 member states, with nine of them having traditional rulers or sultans, four being headed by governors, while the 14th state consists of three Federal Territories directly under the federal government. The paramount ruler (king or the Yang di-Pertuan Agong) who serves as head of state is elected among brother-rulers through the Council of Rulers once every five years. However, despite Islam being the country’s official religion, as a federation, the power over the religion is decentralised as it is vested in the nine respective Malay rulers who head their individual states. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong only serves as the head of the religion in the five states that have no traditional rulers, including the Federal Territories. A bureaucracy to manage Islamic affairs has been set up in each state whose task, among others, is to ensure that Muslims practise the official doctrine of Islam and do not indulge in what is officially termed as ‘deviationist’ activities.



Based on the constitution, a dual or parallel legal system consisting of civil law and syari’a law exists in Malaysia. While the Muslims are subject to both legal systems, non-Muslims come only under civil law. The constitution empowers Parliament to legislate laws that apply to all aspects of life and activities of the federation, but, on matters pertaining to Islam, it is empowered to do so only for the Federal Territories. The state legislative assembly, on its part, passes laws on matters under the jurisdiction of the state, including passing the syari’a law that applies to Muslims in the state only; however, the syari’a law legislated by the state assembly must not and should not go against the provisions of the federal constitution. The judiciary oversees the civil court, which is divided into four levels or tiers: the magistrate court, the high court, the court of appeal and the federal court, the latter being the highest legal authority in the country. The syari’a court in each state almost mirrors the structure of the country’s civil court, except that it is based on a three-tier system: the syari’a lower court, the syari’a high court and the syari’a court of appeal. As it is confined only to each respective state, there is no syari’a federal court to cover the whole of the federation.4 However, as authority over Islamic affairs is vested in the respective states under the purview of the sultans, there are problems of coordination and standardisation in implementation. Thus, the National Council for Islamic Affairs was set up in 1968 by the Council of Rulers and is placed under the Prime Minister’s Department with representatives from states on it. Its objective is to coordinate and streamline the administration of Islamic affairs throughout the federation in keeping with Article 76(1) of the federal constitution (Ruzian 2003: 143). The prime minister appoints several advisers, including a religious adviser (with ministerial rank) to assist him on Islamic matters. A central bureaucracy called the Jabatan Kemajuan Islam, Malaysia (JAKIM; the Department for the Advancement of Islam, Malaysia) headed by Muslim scholars is in existence to facilitate its implementation. At the same time, the Lembaga Urusan dan Tabung Haji (LUTH; Pilgrimage Management Fund), which was set up in the 1960s, is an important central agency to facilitate Muslims to make savings and investment, through which they are able to go on pilgrimage to Mecca. The agency, which has established good relations with the Saudi authorities, makes arrangements for the same. To promote understanding of Islam and clarify confusion among both Muslims and non-Muslims about the religion, the Institut



Kefahaman Islam Malaysia (IKIM; Malaysian Institute for Islamic Understanding) was set up in the 1980s during the Mahathir administration. Funded by a seed grant from the government, IKIM’s task is to conduct research, organise seminars and dialogues with Muslims and non-Muslims, as well as to advise the government on matters affecting Islam and Muslims. Thus, it can be seen that the administration of Islamic affairs in Malaysia is complex and multifaceted. As indicated earlier, while it is true that the central government is strong and the respective states are beholden to it, and that Malaysia has had strong leaders (the most notable being Mahathir), on two important matters—Islam and land— it cannot amass all the power into its hands however much it wants to do so because it is constrained by the constitution. (For the states of Sabah and Sarawak a third important element—immigration—should be included as it is also in the hands of the state). The current state of affairs has its merits and demerits. Decentralisation avoids conflicts and dissension between the states and the federal government, as the latter acknowledges the rights and power of the respective states and their sultans. Each state government and state ruler jealously guards over this right and jurisdiction. But, as stated earlier, there are inconsistencies in certain laws between the states, especially those pertaining to women, marriage and the family. At the moment, there are different family laws pertaining to marriage and polygamy for Muslims in different states in Malaysia, causing unnecessary confusion among the public. At the same time, many parts of the law tend to be biased towards males not only in content but also in implementation. The Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) passed by the Malaysian Parliament in December 2005, though aimed at moving towards the streamlining of the family law among all the states, is unfortunately shrouded in controversy; in fact, many quarters, particularly the women’s groups, feel that it favours men and discriminates against women. The government has promised to look into the grievances and criticisms, but at the time of writing, there is no news regarding the necessary amendments to remedy the situation. Another critical element related to this dual legal system concerns Article 121(1A) of the constitution, which states that all matters pertaining to Islam should be handled by the syari’a court—a provision that has far-reaching implications when it comes to the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. While on paper this provision



looks fine as it demarcates the jurisdiction of both the civil and syari’a courts, and that both courts respect the authority of the other, in practice, it creates and has created misunderstanding, tension and disunity between Muslims and non-Muslims. If a case such as marriage, divorce, death or inheritance affects parties who are all Muslims, the potential of the case impacting on inter-religious or inter-ethnic relations is minimal. However, it can become complicated when it involves a non-Muslim who is converted to Islam, while other members of his/her family remain non-Muslims. The most recent case is that of Moorthy, a Malaysian Mount Everest mountain climber and a former military commando who converted to Islam without the knowledge of his wife and the rest of his family who thought that he was a practising Hindu throughout his life. The controversy erupted upon his death on 20 December 2005 when the Islamic religious authority who knew that he was a Muslim claimed his body and wanted to bury him according to Muslim rites, while the family maintained that Moorthy was a Hindu and should be cremated as a Hindu. The Islamic authority referred the matter to the syari’a court, which ruled that based on documentary and other evidence, the man was a Muslim as he had indeed converted to Islam, and that his case must be handled in accordance with the syari’a. The family challenged the ruling and brought the case to the high court. The latter, however, dismissed the case, ruling that the civil court—based on Article 121(1A) of the constitution—has no jurisdiction to review a syari’a court decision. In short, there is currently no judicial review in such cases.5 The high court’s decision has created an uneasy situation among Muslims and non-Muslims, and the controversy continues. The president of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS) was very disappointed with the decision as it implies that there is no legal remedy for nonMuslims. He felt that ‘this is the biggest seed of disunity that can be sown as this time’ (New Straits Times 2005: 4). A representative of the Malaysian Bar Council (a Muslim) who held a watching brief at the high court hearing concurred, maintaining that ‘the issue [of no remedy for non-Muslims] was scary, as a remedy should have been found in a civilised legal society’.6 At the time of writing, a debate on the implications of the case was raging, highlighting the pros and cons of Article 121(1A), with many— particularly non-Muslims—urging that the article be amended to take into account the interests of the non-Muslims as well. Some legal



quarters have even suggested that a constitutional court be set up to adjudicate constitutional questions and enforce constitutional provisions. As argued by its chief advocate, Barisan Nasional Member of Parliament and lawyer Zaid Ibrahim, himself a Muslim: [A] constitutional court would make our Federal Constitution a living document that shapes and directs the exercise of power…[and] would be the final arbiter we desperately need to resolve the diverse conflicts faced by our communities. This court should not be perceived as neither [sic] Muslim court nor a kafir court. It will be a court of justice, simple as that (2006: 19).7

Aware of the divisiveness of the case and the negative impact it would have on inter-ethnic and inter-faith relations, it is reported that the Malaysian Cabinet decided in its weekly meeting on 4 January 2006 that the Moorthy case would not happen again as it did not want a repeat of such legal wrangling. As reported by the New Straits Times (2006, p. 1), the Cabinet would examine all options, including legal ones, to ensure that the question of one’s faith does not become a tense and emotional tussle.

POLITICAL DISCOURSES ON ISLAM WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY As elsewhere, Islam in Malaysia is not hom*ogenous, but consists of several strands, especially when translated into the public domain. Whilst there is no fundamental difference in terms of the mazhab (school of thought), that is, all being Sunni and followers of the Al-Shafie school, the approach towards Islam in politics and other public domains, as well as how to engage with modernity and globalisation, differs sharply between the ruling party UMNO and the opposition Islamist party PAS. This difference has a history of its own, partly due to differences in political programme, ideology and orientation, as well as the social and educational backgrounds of the leaders and party members. Islam has been a highly significant political force in Malay politics, particularly since the colonial times, and is expected to be even so in the future given that Islam is a political banner of both UMNO and PAS. Historically, it can be seen that developments in the Muslim world have directly or indirectly impacted upon the Malays, leading to calls



for social and religious reforms. In fact, since the first half of the 20th century, Islam had served to rally Malays in the fight against British colonialism for independence. The reopening of the Gate of Ijtihad in the mid-19th century by such reformist Muslim thinkers and panIslamic leaders in the Middle East, namely, Jamal-Din al-Afghani (1838–99) and Muhamad Abduh (1849–1905), who argued that there is compatibility of science and reason with Islam (Mehmet 1990: 65–66), had a big impact on Muslims in Malaya and other parts of Southeast Asia. The modernist Muslim thinkers—the Kaum Muda (Young Turks) who were influential in the 1920s and 1930s—under the influence of these reformist thinkers, tried to engage Western colonialism and modernisation, and address Muslim backwardness by calling for ijtihad (independent reasoning), and the need to overcome taqlid buta or blind faith (Roff 1994). Subsequently, Islam became a political force in Malaysia, more so since the 1940s, first with the setting up in 1945 of a political party called the Malay Nationalist Party (MNP), led by the Muslim scholar and modernist, Burhanuddin AlHelmy, to fight for independence, followed by the setting up of Hizbul Muslimin. However, both parties went out of existence as they could not survive the force of the British-imposed emergency of June 1948. UMNO, the main pillar of the ruling Barisan Nasional in Malaysia today, was formed in 1946 with the slogan to struggle for ‘religion, race and country’. However, the ulama (Muslim scholars’) wing of UMNO split from the party in 1951 to form the Pan-Malayan (now Malaysian) Islamic Party or PAS, and became the main antagonist to UMNO. Since then, these two major political parties have been contending for Malay Muslim support, using their versions of and approach towards Islam as the banner of struggle. But it was UMNO that won the struggle and together with its partners, the MCA and MIC (the Chinese and Indian parties respectively) assumed the reins of power with the attainment of independence in August 1957. Rapid modernisation and globalisation have produced uncertainties and challenges, resulting in the growth of religious movements among the major religious adherents—Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Taoists, etc. The Islamic resurgence has been particularly visible since the 1970s, especially after the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The Islamic movement, clearly reacting to Westernising modernisation and globalisation, has made significant impacts upon state policies and struggles for state power, on people’s everyday lives, on inter-ethnic relations, as well as on international politics (Mohamad Abu Bakar



2004). The impact of such resurgence can be seen and felt strongly in Malaysia, especially since the 1970s and 1980s, with UMNO and PAS responding differently to these challenges. PAS has tried to be the main torch-bearer and beneficiary of this resurgence. This has been so since the change in the PAS leadership in the early 1980s with the Islamic clerics or the ulama being placed at the helm. PAS’ rise as a political force, attracting not only its traditional political base, namely, rural Malays, but also urban professionals, has challenged UMNO’s dominance. Their call for the setting up of an Islamic state and the implementation of their version of the hudud, as well as their attack on the UMNO-led government as ‘secular’, and Malay nationalism that UMNO champions as assabiyah (tribalism or chauvinism) (hence, against Islam), have pushed Malaysian politics in a direction not witnessed previously, creating tension in Malay politics (Hussin Mutalib 1990). UMNO, too, has responded to the Islamic reawakening, particularly to the PAS’s challenge. As indicated earlier, UMNO, under the leadership of Mahathir from 1981 onwards, reacted to the Islamic upsurge by repositioning themselves on Islam. Calling themselves ‘moderates’ and ‘Islamic modernists’, UMNO leaders castigated PAS leaders as Muslim conservatives and fundamentalists who are out of touch with modern-day realities. They instituted their Islamisation policy, and in the process introduced a number of measures, such as Islamic banking to run parallel with conventional banking, established the International Islamic University, streamlined Islamic administration, and set up a number of other institutions with Islamic credentials. Nevertheless, what should be highlighted from Malaysia’s experience is that despite the opposing political positions of UMNO and PAS with regard to Islam, both parties recognise that they operate within the bounds of a parliamentary democracy and a multi-ethnic and multi-religious environment, and that they have to share power with people of other ethnic groups and religions. As such, they have articulated their approaches towards Islam in a way to avoid antagonising peoples of other faiths, attempting instead to give a place to the latter in their scheme of things. In the following section, we shall present their contending approaches towards Islam in Malaysia and how they are being articulated in the public domain. We will first discuss ‘Islam hadhari’ (civilisational Islam) expounded by UMNO president and Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, and then examine PAS’s approach, which they regard as ‘true Islam’. The central debate



between UMNO and PAS seems to revolve around the question: what Islam and whose Islam is ‘correct’ and ‘relevant’? Which ‘Islam’ can respond to modernity and globalisation, and address the issue of global terrorism associated with Muslims?

Islam Hadhari During his administration, Mahathir talked at length on the need for Muslims to change their mindset and argued that Islam is simple to practise and is compatible with the modern world, and with science and technology. But, he continued, it is the conservative ulama who stressed form rather than substance to make Islam ritualistic and difficult, as though it is incompatible with modernity. Thus, he called for a return to the spirit and essence of Islam as preached by the Quran and the Hadith. Mahathir’s emphasis on ‘substance’ and ‘essence’, as well as his application of Islamic principles to modern activities such as banking and insurance resonates well with modern Muslims and also with many non-Muslims. However, during his time, he did not give a name or a term to describe the kind of Islamic approach he was advocating. Abdullah Badawi builds on Mahathir’s legacy, and calls this approach to Islam ‘Islam hadhari’ or civilisational Islam. Abdullah sees Islam hadhari as a means of engaging with the modern globalising world and as a way forward for Muslims to emerge from their backwardness, dependency on state handouts, lack of mastery of science and technology, and of conflicts and militancy among themselves. It is also a way of engaging with Islamophobia that has entered not only into the psyche of non-Muslims, namely, those in the West, but has also been the defining factor in contemporary geo-politics. Abdullah takes great pains to explain that Islam hadhari is not a new religion, but an approach to Islam and the modern world; the religion is Islam, which is complete, sacred and God-sent. As an approach, Abdullah (Abdullah 2004, 2005) maintains Islam hadhari is based on Islam and the Quran and Hadith, to enable and empower Muslims so that they can effectively engage with changing realities, to inherit the past glories of Islamic civilisation, and use such experiences and lessons in the march forward for the Muslim ummah. Giving priority to substance and not form, Abdullah argues that Islam hadhari emphasises the civilisational dimensions of the religion, an approach towards a progressive Islamic civilisation. While taking note of the current



politicisation of Islam and the emergence of Islamophobia in the West and how it features in global geo-politics, Abdullah (2005) maintains that Islam hadhari ‘is not an approach to pacify the West’ or ‘to apologise for the perceived Islamic threat’; neither it is ‘an approach to seek approval from the non-Muslims for a more friendly and gentle image of Islam’. Abdullah feels that with this approach Muslims can be brought back to the fundamentals, as prescribed in the Quran and Hadith that form the foundation of the Islamic civilisation. They can be made to understand and accept that development and enhancing the quality of life is consistent with the tenets of Islam. As argued by Abdullah (2005), this can be achieved via the mastery of knowledge and the development of the individual and the nation; via the implementation of a dynamic economic, trading and financial system; via an integrated and balanced development that creates a knowledgeable and pious people who hold to noble values, and are honest, trustworthy and prepared to take on global challenges. In short, it is an approach that ‘seeks to make Muslims understand that progress is enjoined by Islam . . .an approach that is compatible with modernity and yet firmly rooted in the noble values and injunctions of Islam’. In the context of Malaysia, Abdullah stresses that ‘Islam hadhari…will provide the way in which the Government hopes to administer to the well-being of the country and the welfare of its multi-racial and multi-religious population’ (Abdullah 2005). Abdullah posits 10 fundamental principles of Islam hadhari: 1. Faith and piety in Allah. 2. A just and trustworthy government. 3. A free and independent people. 4. A vigorous pursuit and mastery of knowledge. 5. Balanced and comprehensive economic development. 6. A good quality of life for the people. 7. Protection of the rights of minority groups and women. 8. Cultural and moral integrity. 9. Safeguarding natural resources and the environment. 10. Strong defence capabilities. From the preceeding discussion, we can say that what Abdullah offers via Islam hadhari is an approach of modernist Islam that emphasises civility, participation and social democracy as a way of



life, as opposed to ‘fundamentalist’ or legalistic Islam, or the extremism espoused by some groups. The proponents of Islam hadhari believe that Islam will be respected and revered when Muslims and their nations have become successful and prosperous. And this can only be realised when Muslims strive for excellence and empower themselves with knowledge.

PAS’ Response How has PAS responded to these developments? What is their position? PAS has put forward the agenda for the establishment of an Islamic state, that Islam has to be accepted in totality, not only as a faith, but equally importantly as a way of life, with the state administration being run based on the syari’a, and the state serving as the guardian of the morality of the individual. Regarding themselves the true defenders and champions of Islam, PAS leaders have been taking a high moral ground when confronting UMNO. While UMNO has the vantage point of power, PAS has the appeal and fervour of the margin and of counter-hegemonic resistance. As observed by some scholars, the appeal of PAS is that it has used Islam as a vehicle for a counter-hegemonic and anti-systemic project aimed at bringing about a new social, moral and political order embodied by the Islamic state. Added to this was the entry of new discursive strategies designed to weaken the ideological standing and credibility of PAS’s opponents in UMNO, and to rob UMNO of its most persuasive arguments: the use of takfir (the practice of accusing other Muslims of being unbelievers); the critique of Malay-centrism as assabiyah; the rejection of the pre-Islamic Malay past, and the grafting of terms and concepts drawn from the experience of the Iranian revolution (Farish A. Noor 2004: 701).

One of the sharpest critiques of UMNO and its brand of Islam comes from the current PAS president, Abdul Hadi Awang, who lambasted UMNO as ‘secular’ and attacked UMNO’s implementation of Islam as not only using methods inherited from the colonialists who are the enemies of Islam, but also continued with the colonialist agenda. This, according to him, is ‘a cardinal sin towards Islam and the ummah’ (Abdul Hadi 2005a: 202). No sooner had UMNO and Abdullah Badawi announced their Islam hadhari, PAS’s president published a book entitled Hadharah Islamiyyah Bukan Islam Hadhari (Hadharah Islamiyyah is Not Islam Hadhari) in which he refuted Islam hadhari as a misinterpretation of ‘Hadharah Islamiyyah’ or Islamic civilisation,



that it is a misnomer and bidaah (deviation from true Islam), meant to suit UMNO’s political agenda (ibid.). In his presidential address to the 51st PAS Assembly on 3–5 June 2005, he attacked Islam hadhari as neither giving importance to the injunction of amar makruf nahi mungkar (doing good and opposing evil), nor to the place of syariah as the legal framework to regulate the lives of citizens and state governance (ibid. 2005b: 2–8). In short, PAS keeps on reiterating its original position that it is the true defender and champion of Islam in Malaysia, and dismisses UMNO and its Islam hadhari as deviating from its true teachings. Having said all this, can we say that PAS represents the ‘traditional’ and ‘obscurantist’, and UMNO the ‘modern’? Some analysts feel that there are serious problems with such a conceptual divide. To quote: ‘What PAS offers to Malay Muslims is not only an “idealised past”… but an idealised vision of a just and equitable future, albeit one which PAS may not be able to provide when faced with the exigencies of managing a “modernizing” capitalist economy should the party succeed in coming to power in the future’ (Malhi 2003: 258). Despite its posturing, PAS is neither traditionalist nor militant. The party is committed to the modern parliamentary democracy and participates in the general elections. In fact, it urges its members and supporters to come out in full force during the general elections. An article in its party organ, Harakah (1999: 3), clearly advocates this position. It calls on ‘Muslims to make [participation] in the general elections as an obligatory ibadah (duty to God) that must be carried out to realise the establishment of an Islamic government’. At the same time, the party also attempts to shed the traditionalist image it had acquired over the years. This is done both in terms of its membership composition and, very importantly, its discourses. Another article (1998: 9) published in the same party organ proudly proclaims that ‘PAS is no longer a village-based party. Today, PAS’s influence has spread far and wide.’ It goes on to state: ‘PAS no longer belongs to the pak lebai [traditional village religious teachers]; on the contrary, people from various professions—lawyers, doctors, lecturers and corporate players—are members of the party.’ At the same time, the party’s discourses are modern, engaging the state not only on Islam and the relevance of the Islamic state in the modern world, but also on important universal issues such as human rights, justice, equity in development, democracy, accountability, transparency, good governance, people’s participation, and so on. Although consisting of mostly Malay membership,



it tries to be non-ethnic, as it does not appeal to narrow nationalism or communalism, but rather to the Muslim ummah as a binding universal community. As a party, it does not advocate the use of force or violence to achieve its goals in Malaysia (Abdul Rahman 2006). After suffering serious setbacks in the March 2004 general election, the party has been forced to re-examine its weaknesses and is now adopting a new strategy to ‘re-brand’ itself to provide a progressive and tolerant image, as evident in the debates at the recent party general assembly. Contrary to their practice in the 1980s, when PAS leaders and members used to label their opponents in UMNO as ‘infidels’—a move that caused deep divisions within the Muslim community—now the party has promised to take action against any of their members who denounce their Muslim political opponents with such an inflammatory label (Star 2005: 6). At the same time, through its president, Abdul Hadi Awang, they also stress that the party must not only win the support of Malay Muslims, but also of non-Malays non-Muslim, if it were to win power. In short, this vocal Islamist party realises that it has to shed the ‘fundamentalist’ hard-line image and portray itself as a party for all Malaysians that upholds the democratic system. It hopes to attract modern Muslims and other Malaysians to their cause, and also uphold the democratic system.8 Nevertheless, the conservative bent in the party is very evident. In Kelantan, which has been under PAS control for more than a decade, the state government has imposed a fine of RM 50 (US$ 1 = RM 3.60) on Muslim women who do not cover their heads while at work, and insisted that separate counters be set up for men and women in shopping complexes and supermarkets.They have also banned entertainment outlets and Malay traditional shows of wayang kulit (shadow play) and makyong (Malay traditional opera) performances on the grounds that they contain unIslamic elements. In other states in which the party does not have control, they support moral policing, particularly the arrest of Muslim couples who display affection in public, and Muslim men and women who frequent night clubs and drinking joints. They strongly oppose the view of other Muslims, namely, those from UMNO, who maintain that morality is the responsibility of the individual and the family. They maintain, instead, that morality is a public issue which the state must intervene in and regulate. They argue that as Islam hadhari is silent on the Islamic injunction of amar makruf nahi mungkar (doing good and opposing evil), it indirectly allows moral decadence and immorality to prevail in society.



CONCLUSIONS What conclusions can we draw from the discussions in this chapter? What can be learnt from Malaysia’s experience in managing a multiethnic and multi-religious society? To what extent have discourses and practices on Islam and Muslims contributed towards the enlargement of democratic space in Malaysia? And will Islamic revivalism stifle democratisation? While Malaysia has practised formal democracy and general elections for the last five decades, and there has been an expansion of the democratic space, a number of scholars do not regard its political system as truly democratic. A typical view on the matter has been put forward by a prominent political scientist writing about the Malaysian political system in the 1990s who feels that ‘it is hard to place Malaysia in a clear-cut category between democracy and authoritarianism’. He, thus, comes to the conclusion that it is ‘neither democratic nor authoritarian…[as] the Malaysian political system has been balancing between repression and responsiveness’ (Crouch 1996: 6–7). Whilst his observations are true, this paper argues that it is necessary to differentiate between formal democracy and substantive democracy, and that democracy is not a static system, but one that is continuously evolving. In short, while the framework has been based on a Westerntype democratic system, the substance and implementation has been very much conditioned by the historical context as well as by the internal social and political dynamics that impact upon the system, leading to some modifications and changes. In terms of managing a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, Malaysia’s experience in formulating the constitutional arrangements of the ‘social contract’ and power-sharing enshrined in the constitution has been shown to be a workable formula in the last five decades, though, of late, certain strains and tensions have emerged. These shortcomings and tensions need to be examined critically and addressed effectively in keeping with the changing conditions of global competitiveness and new thinking on the matter. The rethinking is not to do away with the fundamental principles of power-sharing, but to strengthen the principles in spirit and in practice in the midst of the challenges of globalisation and modernity. While the system and institutions are important, leadership roles are critical. Malaysia’s experience has shown that effective and



visionary leadership with an inclusive approach is extremely vital as it will determine the substance and direction of policies. But the leadership must be democratic, consultative and maintain a close rapport with civil society and the grassroots so that it can benefit from the latter’s inputs. On the question of Islam and politics, it has been seen that the kind of political debates and practices with regard to Islam and Muslims in Malaysia reflect in the main two trends: one is conservative and orthodox that advocates moral policing and makes a rigid interpretation of the syari’a, while the other is more open and progressive. It is the latter trend that has made important contributions towards the democratic discourse and the enlargement of the democratic space, as well as respect for women’s rights and people of other faiths. It is important to note that both trends exist within the two Muslim parties—UMNO and PAS, as well as in civil society. It is true that both UMNO and PAS have repositioned their approaches to Islam and Muslims, and also towards the West, in such a way as to address the modern world and the challenges of globalisation in order to advance the ummah in various fields. Whatever one’s stance on UMNO’s Islam hadhari or on PAS’s brand of Islam, it can be seen that both work within the parliamentary democratic system. This is a very important point as it will ensure that tendencies towards militancy and terrorism among Muslims can be put in check and combated. But overzealousness among some Muslims and their organisations, particularly conservatives, can create misunderstanding and tension between Muslims and non-Muslims. While the future is difficult to predict, we can be sure that the contestations between ‘what Islam? whose Islam?’ in Malaysia will continue to dominate the political landscape in the coming years. There will also be strong opposition to moral policing; and the demand for the right of redressal for non-Muslims while at the same time protecting the interests of Muslims will continue to grow. At the crux of all these is the need to uphold the federal constitution as the supreme law of the land. The judiciary has yet to be bold and creative in interpreting the constitution so as to ensure justice and maintain inter-ethnic and inter-religious harmony. For Malaysia to move forward, the state must be responsive to challenges and popular demands, with leaders walking their talk. Civil society, too, must continue to represent the interests of the people without fear or favour and participate effectively in decision-making.



In this way, substantive democracy can be enhanced, which in turn will help strengthen formal democracy.



The term ‘social contract’ is used loosely to mean the ‘agreement’ reached between the representatives of the major ethnic groups on the question of rights of each group in the newly independent Malaya (later Malaysia). The spirit of this agreement was then enshrined into the constitution. Malaysia, in fact, has taken a step further as the current chairman of the NonAligned Movement (NAM) by taking the initiative to hold the NAM Ministerial Meeting on the Advancement of Women on 7–10 May 2005 at the administrative capital, Putrajaya, with the Ministry of Women, Family and Social Development as host and coordinator. The meeting, themed ‘Empowering Women in Facing the Challenges of Globalisation’, is the first of its kind organised by NAM, and was attended by delegates from more than 76 countries. It focused its deliberations on a number of crucial issues facing women in the developing world, including the Muslim world, namely, • • • • • • •




Women and economic development; Women in decision-making; Women and education; Women and health; Women and ICT; Women in armed conflict; and Violence against women.

The meeting also adopted the Putrajaya Declaration on the Advancement of Women in NAM Countries. Mohamad Isa was called to appear before UMNO’s Disciplinary Board on 23 June 2005 to answer nine charges of political corruption. He was found guilty of five charges and suspended for six years from the party, though later it was reduced to three years on appeal. He also had to resign his Cabinet post, and lost all his party positions and rights as party member during that period. It should be noted that of the seven candidates contesting for the three posts as vice-president, Mohamad Isa—to the surprise of many—won the highest number of votes, far ahead of the favourite, Muhyiddin Yassin, who secured only third place. The UMNO Disciplinary Board has taken action against over 60 party members for breaching party discipline in the run-up to the September 2004 party Supreme Council election, with Mohamad Isa being the highest-ranking member. The constitution also recognises the legitimacy of the customary court (mahkamah adat), which operates in the states of Sarawak and Sabah, and has jurisdiction over certain matters specific to the customs and traditions of the natives in these two states. There are conflicting legal opinions on this. While the civil court seems to interpret the Article 121 (1A) to mean that it has no right to review the syari’a court’s decisions, others feel that the problem is with the judges. According to them, in






matters pertaining to Islam, judges simply shy away and refuse to use their judicial authority to interpret the Article creatively. The current chairman of SUHAKAM, Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman, who was Malaysia’s former attorneygeneral responsible for drafting Article 121 (1A) which was then passed by Parliament in 1988, argued that the civil court can review cases decided by the syari’a court in certain situations. To him, the problem arose because the courts ‘did not have the courage to interpret the law in the spirit of which it was written’ (Aniza Damis 2006: 6). He said further, ‘The problem here is caused by the court, not the legislature. Judges are not complying with the constitutional oath they had taken. . . . The courts have failed to do so [interpret boldly] for the slightest unreasonable reasons in many cases where Islam is merely seen on the surface’ (Theophilus 2006). As noted by some observers, the Moorthy case has became ‘the trigger of something that has been building up for a long time’, particularly on the issue of the space for the non-Muslim (Pereira 2005) in the light of increasing Islamisation. The case has thrown up into sharp relief the fundamental issue of the principles of living together in a multi-religious society, including the issue of religious freedom and the right of a person to join or leave a faith without coercion or compulsion. One major concern is the question of proselytisation. As argued by Chandra (2005), ‘aggressive proselytisation’ can be a problem, and he wonders aloud if such proselytisation should be prohibited by law. It is high time that the government solved the problems connected with conversion, propagation and legal dualism, for these problems ‘should not be swept under the carpet’ as they affect inter-religious relations. Zaid (2006: 19) suggests that the constitutional court should consist of capable retired judges with the utmost integrity to constitute a quorum. At the same time, to ensure that Islamic principles of justice are not compromised, the expertise of internationally respected Muslim jurists should also be enlisted. At a PAS assembly held in June 2005 in Kota Bahru, Kelantan, the PAS Youth information chief, Mazlan Aliman, stressed that the party would blacklist any of their members who at rallies and talks denounce their Muslim political opponents as ‘unbelievers’ or ‘infidels’, stressing that such a thing would be ‘in violation of party ethics’ and that such persons are ‘50 years behind PAS’ current outlook on issues’. It appears that PAS is trying hard to put an end to the kafirmengkafir (labelling other Muslims not in their camp as ‘infidels’) controversy that had bedevilled Muslim unity in Malaysia for more than two decades since the 1980s. The controversy came directly as a consequence of an edict issued by Abdul Hadi Awang, then PAS vice-president, in the early 1980s, which proclaimed that Muslims who separated religion from politics would become ‘unbelievers’ or ‘infidel’, and voting for PAS was a ‘jihad’.

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INTRODUCTION The prevalent discourse about democracy in the Muslim world typically follows a culturist approach. It revolves around the question of the democratic potential of Islam, especially as it operates in Muslimmajority states such as Pakistan. The basic argument in this paper is that the institutional-constitutional structure of the state in Pakistan as inherited from British India makes it a serious candidate for democracy along the Westminster model. Islam in Pakistan, like secularism in India, provides an ideational sanction to the state. The ascendancy of the Muslim elite from northern India, which heralded the Pakistan movement, turned the country into a migrant state, characterised by a paternalistic rule underscored by a low power potential of elected assemblies. Punjab, which had served as the main catchment area for the British Indian army, now emerged as the power base of Pakistan. In a situation of institutional imbalance in favour of the army and bureaucracy at the cost of parties and legislatures, the project of state building generally discounted the mass mandate as the final source of



legitimacy. By the late 1960s, the establishment started to seek alignment with Islamic parties to operationalise the divine sources of legitimacy. In addition, the unstable regional setting of Pakistan, characterised by a perennial conflict with India, the Iranian Revolution, the war in Afghanistan and the two Gulf Wars of 1991 and 2003, led to the securitisation of the national vision. All this adversely affected the growth of democracy in Pakistan. At the beginning of the 21st century, Pakistan remains a constitutional state, even as the issue of parliamentary sovereignty continues to pose a challenge to the vision and practice of democracy in that country. The current revival of interest in the relationship between Islam and democracy provides a context for the discussion of democracy in Pakistan. This context is defined in terms of Washington’s policy of democratisation of Muslim societies. The politics of Pakistan has been studied in the light of various conceptual frameworks, which successively occupied a pivotal position in the discipline of comparative politics. We shall critically look at the institutional approach, behaviouralist model, survey-based research and the civil society approach, and argue in favour of a structural approach to the study of politics in Pakistan. That will lead us to an analysis of democracy in terms of state formation along with the pivotal role of the army, as well as the electoral dimension of politics. Subsequently, we shall deal with questions of economic growth, human development and human rights in Pakistan as far as these are relevant for the growth of democracy there. Finally, we shall look at democracy and Islam in the context of Pakistan, and explore the way the ideological framework of the state has interacted with patterns of authority inherited from British India.

SETTING THE CONTEXT The overall context of this paper is provided by the post-9/11 war against terrorism, along with the American agenda of democratising the heartland of the Muslim world. In his State of the Union address in January 2005, President George W. Bush outlined his policy of establishing democracy in the Middle East. In his view, the way forward to humane rule in the region lies through democracy, which ensures public participation in the business of the state. The idea is that a disenfranchised public is a breeding ground of terrorism. In the



absence of an institutional mechanism that has the potential to aggregate and articulate public grievances through political parties on the way to formulation of policy by elected legislatures, societies are liable to suffer through the rule of tyranny. The so-called ‘democratic deficit’ characterises the Muslim world in general and Arab countries in particular. The Western concern for this state of affairs has taken the shape of a policy of democratisation for the Middle East. Especially after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the justification for the overthrow of Saddam and continuing the operations of the occupation forces in the face of armed resistance were increasingly defined in terms of the agenda for democratisation. Pakistan, the leading partner of the US in the war against terrorism in the region, itself underwent a process of democratisation during the 2002 elections. Also, parliamentary elections were held in Iraq in 2004, while Saudi Arabia had its first taste of ballot in the form of elections for local government later that year. As the Freedom House surveys demonstrate, no Arab country has a system of rule by public representatives. This fact is typically employed to serve as an indicator of the terrorist mode of behaviour of the alienated sections of Arab society. The predominantly Arab composition of the terrorist squad that hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001, has been universally acknowledged in the Western intellectual discourse as a consequence of what is condemned as tribal, medieval, authoritarian and repressive forms of government prevailing in the Arab Middle East. Infrequent exercises in mass mandate in some Arab countries have been typically unrepresentative of public opinion. Similarly, the level of civic liberties and political freedom in these countries has been very low. No wonder, Alfred Stepan and Graeme Robertson (2003) considered it an Arab rather than a Muslim democracy gap. In their view, the Arab states have been engaged essentially in building an institutional infrastructure around a shared vision of the Arab political community, most typically expressed through the Arab League (ibid. 2004: 144). One can argue that this approach relies mainly on the express agenda of Arab governments for unity at the cost of analysis of the prevalent patterns of authority in the region. At the other end, the non-Arab Muslim states, ranging from Indonesia in the east, Turkey in the west, and Sudan and Nigeria in the south, fared much better in the backdrop of their periodical elections for legislature and executive, notwithstanding military intervention



in some cases. However, Stanford Lakoff (2004) argues in favour of Muslim exceptionalism proper. He tends to disregard the democratic credentials of the most populous Muslim-majority states such as Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan and Turkey. Similarly, he is not inclined towards considering Malaysia as anything more than a quasi-democracy or Indonesia as an example of representative rule free of the military’s continuing influence. Thus, in Lakoff ’s formulation, all Muslimmajority countries remained outside the democratic camp. On the contrary, the Polity IV rankings cited in Stepan and Robertson’s findings point to a modicum of democracy operating in certain non-Arab Muslim countries that merits serious consideration of analysts and policy-makers in the West. Pakistan, like Malaysia and Turkey, has been struggling to put its democratic potential into operation in the face of domestic crises and regional challenges. Under Musharraf, Pakistan is an ally of the West against terrorism. In the year 2005, it had a parliamentary democracy in place, with all the paraphernalia of rule of public representatives as well as rule of law, including political parties, functioning legislatures at national and provincial levels, a measure of independence of the media, and space for politics of opposition within and outside elected bodies. The analytical perspectives of several scholars on Islam converge on a methodological consensus that is operationalised through the study of a specific country under consideration in terms of its cultural values, ideological orientations, and social and political structures. There is a serious gap of analysis of any input from the regional and global currents of thought and practice into the political, economic and intellectual fields of a Muslim society. For example, there is general apathy towards the argument that the modernisation of Arab states during the immediate post-colonial period was replaced by a phase of stagnation of power in the recent decades largely due to Western support for decadent regimes. The convergence of interests between Western states and the strategically pivotal but politically conservative states of the Arab world sealed the fate of democracy in the region (Ghalioun 2004). The United States generally hesitated to take serious action to encourage the cause of democracy for fear that the increasingly Islamised political opposition in Arab countries would carry the popular vote (ibid.). To some extent, this fear was a carryover from the Nasserite era, which was characterised by a pervasive anti-Western sentiment couched in relatively secular Arab nationalism. In other Muslim countries such as Indonesia under Sukarno, Iran under Musaddaq and



Pakistan under Bhutto, politics of a communist, socialist, leftist or populist variety exhibited a pronounced anti-American position. Not surprisingly, Washington allied itself with Islamic, conservative and typically right-wing movements in these countries. The question is how far the pro-democracy tilt of the American policy in the post 9/11 set-up is a substantive shift away from its previous commitment to the maintenance of the status quo within Arab and non-democratic Muslim majority states. One can argue that Washington’s model for democratisation of the Middle East, and by extension the world of Islam, is constrained by what it considers the unpredictable outcome of vote politics. The American pressure to hold elections at the national and municipal levels respectively has worked directly on Iraq, and indirectly and partially on Saudi Arabia. However, the larger community of Muslim nations has not experienced a radical move forward in the direction of further opening up of the political system to the public at large. Washington’s initiative in Central Asian countries in 2004–05 to open up their political systems started to lose ground as the local elite reacted by looking towards China and Russia in search of a security mechanism against the Western democratic offensive. Apart from the constraints of American foreign policy objectives that inhibit the pursuit of a genuine democratisation programme in the Muslim world, democratisation from outside under diplomatic, economic or military pressure is inherently problematic. It has conspiratorial overtones that militate against the legitimacy of the whole experience of electoral politics and undermines the moral authority of the ruling dispensation. Iraq after the 2004 elections is a case in point. At the broader level, the agenda of democracy takes a territorially defined state system in the Third World, including the Muslim world, for granted. In reality, these states are engaged in primitive accumulation of power in the face of wider challenges emanating from the domestic, regional and global forces (Mohammad Ayoob 1996: 70). Here, the national security issue remains a fundamental principle of public policy, which operates as the most pervasive sentiment in the public. Especially those states that happen to be in conflict with the more powerful countries in the neighbourhood display a level of sensitivity about democracy that is in an inverse proportion to the concern for national security. This applies to Pakistan in its conflict with India, and the Arab states in their conflict with Israel. Second, the complex nation-building project of Muslim and non-Muslim states



during the half-century following the Second World War put the agenda for national unity on top, largely at the expense of establishing pluralist models of government based on representative rule (Rex and Singh 2004). Patterns of ethnic conflict in countries such as Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey led their respective governments to centralising all meaningful power in the hands of the state machinery, sometimes through military intervention. This chapter is based on the premise that Pakistan is a serious candidate for democracy. The country is passing through a process of transition from military to civilian rule in the middle 2000s, the fourth time in half a century. On the one hand, this indicates the army’s potential and willingness to intervene in politics as and when it deems fit. On the other hand, it demonstrates the resilience of the political community as well as the dynamism of the civil society at large, which struggled for restoration of democracy after each military takeover. The politics of Pakistan is a classic example of perennial democratisation. The political elite has generally followed an agenda set by the army in terms of shaping public policy according to the latter’s priorities. Military governments were typically followed by phases of democratisation characterised by continuation of generals as president (Ayub in mufti, Zia and Musharraf in uniform), and a relatively constrained role of elected legislatures. While the country experienced a succession of political crises rooted in ethnic movements, dismissal of elected governments, constitutional breakdowns, military operations and wars with India, it continued to have an undercurrent of relative stability in the form of a firm hold of the state elite over political initiative. In Pakistan, all military coups were challenged in courts of law. Also, all the four military rulers held elections to civilianise their regimes in 1962, 1970, 1985 and 2002. In other words, the supreme source of legitimacy continued to lie with the constitution, as interpreted by the higher courts, and upheld by the political class and the legal community. As we shall discuss later, constitutionality remains the fundamental characteristic of the state in Pakistan. We can locate the origins and patterns of growth of the institutional-constitutional structure of this state in the British colonial legacy of tutelary democracy. In the following sections, we plan to look at various analytical frameworks for the study of democracy in Pakistan in order to explore their potential for bringing out the nature and direction of politics in the country. The purpose is to develop a conceptual framework along with



a methodological formula to focus on the problems and prospects of democracy in Pakistan.

TOWARDS A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK OF DEMOCRACY In the early post-independence years, Pakistan was studied essentially from the perspective of what was later understood to be the institutional approach in the British tradition of social sciences in the post-war years. K.B. Sayeed (1968) topped the list of early ‘institutionalist’ historians of Pakistan. Others include Alan Gledhill (1957), Wayne Wilcox (1963), Ralph Braibanti (1966), Mushtaq Ahmed (1970), Rafiq Afzal (1987) and Ayesha Jalal (1991). Their basic approach was that the drama of the slow growth or no growth or actual decline of democracy in Pakistan unfolded through a weakness of legal injunctions, atrophy of institutions such as political parties, malfunctioning of Parliament, and a crisis of federalism in general. The traditional institutional approach was relatively descriptive and unreflective about theoretical and methodological issues of political research. This approach generally looked at formal and legal aspects of the working of institutional structures. The underlying argument was that institutions determined behaviour. Since institutions are established over a reasonable period of time, a certain level of historicism underlines this argument. Similarly, institutions are considered to be repositories of rule-based behaviour reflecting the moral ethos, ideas and visions of their founding fathers and builders over time. Thus, a normative rather than empirical approach characterised institutionalism. Almost as a corollary, this framework can be considered holistic in approach due to the nationwide scope of application of the writ of institutions and constitutions, sometimes in a mode of comparison with other counties. In the case of Pakistan, institutionalism relied too heavily on the ‘design’ of democracy to bring its actual functioning out in society. The collectivist bias of the institutional approach was challenged and in several cases empirical research replaced by methodological individualism under the impact of the behaviouralist revolution in social sciences during the 1960s and 1970s. According to the new approach, the focus of inquiry should be on individuals who are the ultimate decision-makers, such as voters, opinion holders, corporate or public



office holders, or even non-participants in specific modes of public behaviour within the overall framework of interest-maximising patterns of social and political interaction (Peters 2001: 15–17). In this way, the state-centric approach of the ‘old’ institutionalism gave way to the study of public behaviouralism. Underlying the new approach was the idea that properties of institutions are generally derived from individual choices, and not from institutional and constitutional frameworks per se, or the coercive and ideological machinery of the state. In the context of Pakistan, the new mode of analysis brought in an element of operational dynamics of political development, as in the work of Leonard Binder (1961), Samuel Huntington (1968), Karl Von Vorys (1965) and Wayne Wilcox (1963). While operating within the paradigm of the modernisation theory, they tended to focus on the dynamics of power, leadership factor, social change and economic development. Couched in the systems theory, this approach was normatively concerned with political stability far more than democracy. Behaviouralism enormously contributed to the adoption of the survey technique to carry out empirical research in political phenomena. The political culture theory as a legatee of the civic culture framework of analysis led by Almond and Verba (1963) increasingly served the purpose of holding macro-level surveys across localities and communities, and increasingly across nations. Robert Putnam’s (1993: 167) seminal work on civil society operating as the foundation of democracy in Italy focused on the key variable of social capital defined in terms of trust, norms and networks. Similarly, in his application of the concept of social capital to the study of democracy in India, Hans Blomkvist (1996) focused on society’s potential for organised coordination as the indicator of its power, and consequently its capacity to steer the government’s performance along democratic lines. f*ckuyama (2001: 7–8) similarly describes social capital as an instantiated informal bondage between individuals, promoting associational life and, therefore, public good through a liberal democratic government. The approach often boils down to endorsem*nt of culture being the source of democratic governance or otherwise. The argument is that the more a society displays values of tolerance, accommodation, respect for individual freedom and social capital in general, the more it acquires the potential for shaping democratic governance in the country. This ‘cultural convergence theory’ has been largely self-serving inasmuch as the mature democracies of the West are accredited with such values as individualism, fundamental rights and associational potential.



Indeed, the civil society approach to democracy posits a relatively new but contextually constrained thesis about the new wave of democracy sweeping across the ex-communist bloc in the 1990s. The idea is that the relatively atomised society under communism developed dissident associations as part of the moral civil society, giving birth to alternative social movements and finally eroding the legitimacy of regimes in Eastern Europe (Dimitrova and Verheijen 1997). Not surprisingly, the decade of scholarship in the 1990s increasingly considered civil society as a prerequisite for democracy (f*ckuyama 2001: 11). Research into associational life operating in the space between state and family led scholars into the study of religious, educational and philanthropic institutions, not the least in the Indian environment. This stretched the concept of civil society to include all kinds of non-state input into the state’s operational dynamics within a broadly ahistorical framework. It militated against the specificity of civil society as a feature of the modern nation-state within the liberal democratic framework. As argued by Blaney and Pasha (1993: 4–8), the ‘construct’ of civil society is historically and conceptually related to a system of rights for legal persons called citizens. It requires, apart from a plurality of associational voices in the social realm and an individual’s private moral choice, the principle of legality operating in the widely institutionalised social space. For our study of democracy in Pakistan, we need to analyse the operational dynamics of the institutional-constitutional edifice of the state as a condition for the functioning of civil society. Borrowing from Putnam (1993: 7–8), we can focus on institutions as both independent and dependent variables, considering the way institutions shape politics and the way they are ‘path dependent’ in a historical sense. In other words, institutions are repositories of past choices, policies and decisions, even as they operate on the chessboard of contemporary politics (Peters 2001: 19–20). This explains the way the growth of civil society in Pakistan suffered from the absence of an ongoing institutional-constitutional complex, providing for an incremental expansion of the non-state domain of public activity conducive to the growth of democracy. Civil society comprises rights-bearing individuals and groups operating relatively autonomously. At the same time, the role of the civil society is a function of the state’s politico-legal authority system. In Pakistan, civil society often asserted itself as a custodian of public morality via mobilisation of the ‘mass public’ in the electoral context and issuebased activity. We need to discuss the role of civil society in politics by way of its contribution to what NGOs have generally defined as



democratic development. We shall argue in favour of a structural approach to civil society as a function of the state system itself. This approach is an indicator of both the political space available and the broad public agenda expressed through political discourse. The structural approach can be clearly distinguished from a ‘functional’ approach, which looks at civil society in terms of its pursuits in the sphere of social welfare and philanthropy in a static and transhistorical framework. It is argued that, in the specific situation of postcolonialism, Pakistan experienced the continuation of legal rule from British India, while both the political community and the newly anointed citizens suffered from low institutional development. Understanding civil society as the foundation of democracy is problematic because the post-colonial state holds initiative in major fields of public policy. The democratic polity is characterised by the operational dynamics of institutions linking patterns of authority with society, with legal persons and communities at the one end and political parties and parliament at the other. The process of linking the state with the society through an exercise in mass mandate emerges as the most significant processual variable in this regard. The study of civil society in Pakistan is relevant inasmuch as it is a function of the state system, which itself draws heavily on the institutiuonal-constitutional framework of the country for an exercise of authority. The role of agency in moving the structure towards democracy has been variously discussed in the form of leadership, political parties and intelligentsia, that is, political actors extraneous to the structure itself. Behaviouralism broadly highlighted the role of citizens in a democracy seeking to project their perceptions about public representatives wielding authority as part of the legislature or the executive. That created the need for survey of public opinion in the period between elections as an instrument of gauging and possibly influencing people for electoral purposes. Surveys of public opinion about the state of democracy at the national, regional and global levels have been in vogue for at least a quarter of a century. While applying the survey data to the study of Pakistan, we need to point out certain methodological anomalies that can affect the quality of analysis. Freedom House’s (Freedom House Survey 2003) methodology of conducting surveys is a case in point. Its findings characterise countries around the world as free, partly free and not free. There are both epistemological and empirical problems with this formulation. Epistemologically, the concept of freedom used in these surveys cannot



be related to national independence because most of the countries under study enjoy juridical sovereignty, unless when specified as territories. Similarly, the concept of freedom at the micro level derives its meaning from a situation of personal freedom from some economic, cultural and political bondage that characterised feudal and slave-owning societies in the past, or some border zones and depressed communities of countries in the contemporary world. This meaning is unrelated to the public under study. It is argued that the word ‘freedom’ is borrowed directly from the propaganda machinery of the early Cold War period when the non-communist world was described as the free world by the US-led capitalist bloc. As applied to the countries surveyed, this term remains un-theorised and epistemologically unsophisticated. On the empirical side, certain countries are described as free or partly free, while a year later they can go up or go down in the list, depending on whether elections have taken place or a military coup has displaced an elected government in the meanwhile. What is grossly missing is the democratic potential of society as a deciding factor. Indeed, understanding democracy in terms of civil–military relations is problematic per se. What is generally not addressed is the issue of continuation of the main corpus of laws under military rule sans the elective principle and its operational dynamics. This requires a conceptual handling at some level, especially as it applies to the situation in Pakistan. The absence of sensitivity about these matters lends a lumpy character to the Freedom House survey results. In 1985, Pakistan was grouped with Afghanistan, Togo and the Central African Republic (Gastil 1985). In the political community of Pakistan, rule of law, adult franchise, electoral reforms, independence of judiciary and habeas corpus are household words as part of the political discourse. However, other countries in the list do not have their political discourse even remotely revolving around these legal provisions. Similarly, a form of government is given extra weight for such concepts as freedom or the lack of it, while the focus of the real power of decision-making is neither graded nor indeed located in a real sense. As opposed to the assertion of Freedom House that its surveys do not maintain a culturebound view of freedom, the post-war triumphalism is amply reflected through its search for legitimacy by formally adhering to the standards of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as upheld by the UN (Freedom House 2003: 1). Ironically, the formula for declaring a country free, namely, ‘that it enjoys comparably more freedom than Partly Free or Not Free’ is a tautology (ibid.: 7). In terms of press



freedom, Italy was placed in the category of the partly free in 2004 where Morocco had been placed for 13 years, and seven sub-Saharan African countries were declared free. In the same year, Iraq was credited with ‘the most dramatic opening of the year’, simply because a formal and largely meaningless exercise in mass mandate had been conducted under the auspices of the US-led occupation forces (ibid.: 3). As indicators of democracy, these variables suffer from a mechanical treatment of political freedoms. A lot more is needed to make them meaningful in the framework of comparative politics. In a study based on three World Values Surveys, economic development was generally associated with democracy in terms of a shift away from absolute norms of rule in the direction of rational, tolerant and participant political frameworks (Inglehart and Baker 2002: 19). This finding can be considered anomalous in the case of oil-rich Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia as well as Singapore and certain other Southeast Asian countries. Also, the case of India, with its slower economic growth rate but higher democratic potential than the average for Southeast Asian countries, seems to contradict the findings of the study. What neo-institutionalists would describe as past choices transformed into present institutional norms and practices are widely missing in some of the analyses of the World Values Surveys pertaining to the relationship between economic development and cultural zones. The following statement of Inglehart and Welzel (2005: 7) in this regard is instructive of the way the non-surveyed attitudes of the public are analysed. The countries of Protestant Europe and the English-speaking zone are much wealthier than those of South Asia or sub-Saharan Africa, and it is difficult to partition the overlapping variance between culture and economic development.

This approach heavily relies on the traditional/secular-rational dimension of the professedly revised modernisation theory (ibid.: 1). Indeed, following the human development perspective, the World Values Surveys typically ascribe post-materialist liberty aspirations to public emphasis on freedom of choice and freedom of expression via mobilisation of civil society and mass movements (Inglehart and Welzel 2005: 5–7). This approach is manifestly agnostic about the role of strategic elite ensconced in various positions of decision-making within the institutional apparatus of the state. Nor does it account for structural transformation of the patterns of authority initiated from outside society. For example, the colonial practice of transplantation



of institutions and constitutions, ideals and norms, and morals and manners in the Indian subcontinent, much as elsewhere, brought about revolutionary changes in relations between state and society. In Pakistan, the pro-democracy movement draws heavily on constitutional norms, legal provisions and institutional framework for the exercise of a state authority which were conceived in a different era and a different continent. We need to discuss the relevance of structural aspects of the authority system in order to understand the scope and level of democratic potential in that country.

DEMOCRACY IN PAKISTAN: THE STRUCTURAL DYNAMICS Our observations in this section point to the importance of a structural approach to the study of democracy in Pakistan. Structuralism represented a breakthrough in scholarship on politics of Pakistan represented by Hamza Alavi’s (1965) seminal work on the state in post-colonial societies. While K.B. Sayeed, Mushtaq Ahmed and others concentrated on political leadership, Islamic ideology, political parties and the legislative process in the capacity of ‘agency’ for shaping politics, Alavi focused on the two state apparatuses of the army and bureaucracy as the ultimate power-wielding institutions.1 In the latter’s formulation, the role of agency in the context of state formation before and after partition was played essentially by the Muslim ‘salariat’ of British India drawing on the urban middle class of society (ibid. 1990: 32–33). This partly reflected Miliband’s (1973) analysis of the capitalist state dominated by the state elite as distinct from Paulantzas’ structuralist approach rooted in class dynamics per se. This, in turn, influenced research on the politics of Pakistan. It is argued that the power structure of the country is based on what is essentially a legally sanctioned and constitutionally operative state system. Pakistan represents an interesting example of the interplay of structure–agency dynamics whereby the two state apparatuses of the army and bureaucracy provided the structural focus of power enshrined in the legal-constitutional framework (Adeney and Wyatt 2004: 4–8). This structure has been able to keep itself intact and effectively operative for nearly six decades after independence. There have been spurts of input by agency, either positively in the form of a state-forming or



agenda-forming initiative, or negatively as mass movements against the ruling dispensations. In the former case, the creation of Pakistan out of British India represented the most crucial input of the Muslim elite into the state structure while operating from within and outside the All India Muslim League. This state-forming role was augmented by the elaboration of a set of policies for the new state relating to such fields as foreign affairs, constitutional development, centre–province relations, the role of Islam, media, and a model of economic development based on private enterprise. By the late 1940s and early 1950s, as the structure of the new state started to take shape, the role of agency was appropriated and crystallised along ethnic lines. It was dominated by the migrant elite from Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bombay as well as the migrant and local elite of Punjab. That led to the profile of Pakistan as a mohajir–Punjabi state. During the following decades, the relative decline of the mohajir component manifested itself through a parallel process of Punjabisation of the power structure as the new state increasingly displayed a mono-ethnic tendency (Samad 1995: 124–30). These developments put an acute pressure on other ethnic communities to adjust to a Punjab-centred state, which had no historical antecedents. In a parallel development, the class dynamics of the new state played an important role in shaping the emergent structure of the state in Pakistan as well as its priorities in the domestic, regional and global contexts. Jinnah was the epitome of the Muslim middle class in India. He had a sound professional background in legal practice, an electoral constituency in the commercial and educated middle classes, and a penchant for organisational work. The middle-class elements of both Muslim minority and majority provinces acquired, cultivated and projected a Muslim ‘nationalist’ perspective during the second quarter of the 20th century. These elements from the services and professions, the ‘salariat’, provided the core of the Pakistan movement. They displayed a well-established ‘statist’ perspective in terms of a paternalistic model of rule over what was understood to be an illiterate peasant society, characterised by caste, tribal, sectarian and ethnic divisions (Mohammad Waseem 1994: 156–60). The salariat looked at itself as the custodian of the destiny of the nation. State rather than society, commitment to upholding the national interest rather than public interest, and a focus on policy rather than patronage characterised the Muslim middle-class perspective on politics. The fact that Pakistan was territorially based on relatively backward provinces and princely states of northwest and northeast India, with only a



meagre sprinkling of educated elements, the composition of the middle class had a definite bias in favour of migrants from India and secondarily Punjab. This middle class captured the new state apparatus based in Karachi. It consistently sought to de-ethnicise the public vision in the pursuit of first its agenda for Pakistan in the 1940s and later its project of nation-building after independence. In the post-independence period, the migrant-led middle class dominated the institutional-constitutional framework of the state as inherited from British India. Once it became part of the structure, it lost its character as agency. As a minority operating in the wider current of Hindu majority-based politics in British India, Muslims were generally attracted to identity-based politics of constitutional safeguards, reservation of seats in legislatures and quota for jobs in the public sector. They developed an attitude towards the state as the ultimate principle of security against the perceived fear of domination by Hindu society all around. This reshaped the political attitudes of the Muslim community by way of a weak commitment to both public careers in general and the normative ideal of majoritarian democracy in particular. On the other hand, the ‘agency’—initially led by the migrant leadership—decisively shaped the contours of the policy and profile of Pakistan along some broadly identifiable commitments. These included: (a) a strong centralist bias for exercise of authority at the expense of provincial autonomy; (b) a legal framework that was based largely, if not exclusively, on the last two constitutional initiatives of the colonial government in British India, the 1935 India Act and the 1947 Independence of India Act; (c) reorganisation of civil bureaucracy on an all-Pakistan basis, with provisions for safeguarding its operational autonomy vis-à-vis the political executive in general and its political superordinates in particular; (d) an ideological framework based on Islam as a supra-legal source of legitimacy; and (e) the relative intolerance of sub-national identities based on ethno-linguistic ties. While a lot changed during the following half-century, these legal, institutional and ideological commitments continued to define the state structure. It is instructive to look at the ‘structure’ as it developed through the birth pangs of Pakistan. The new state was shaped by the fact of migration, which accompanied Partition, in a near-deterministic way. The Muslim elite from the minority provinces of UP and Bombay heralded the movement for Pakistan, which was to be established in majority provinces. The former was converted to the Pakistan cause in



principle around the 1936–37 elections, while the elite in the future areas of Pakistan was converted to the cause a decade later during the 1946 elections. After Partition, the migratory elite from the minority provinces, led by Jinnah and Liaqat, enjoyed a relatively higher level of legitimacy as makers of Pakistan than their counterparts from the host community. Similarly, the migrant elite were grossly overrepresented in the higher bureaucracy, enjoying a virtual monopoly over policy and privilege. The Gujarati-speaking migrant business community from Bombay emerged as the national bourgeoisie of Pakistan.2 The intelligentsia, including literary writers, journalists, academics, artists and a variety of other opinion makers belonging to various sections of society, was dominated by migrants. Islamic writings based on translation and explanation of classical texts, including the Quran and Hadith, were written essentially in Urdu, the language of north India, even as there was a minor sprinkling of religious literature in local languages (Rahman 2001). Most significant and popular seminaries were situated in UP. Indeed, an absolute majority of people in Pakistan belong to the two Sunni sub-sects, Deobandi and Barelvi, named after the two seminaries situated in Deoband and Bareilly in UP. Not surprisingly, the religious, cultural, intellectual, political, administrative and economic fields of public activity in Pakistan were influenced by the migrant ethos. Especially, a measure of de-territorialisation of the nationalist sentiment was discernible for a generation after independence. It was reflected through an elaborate pan-Islamist agenda as well as the two-nation theory. The latter continued to represent the notion of Muslims from India and Pakistan constituting a nation distinct from Hindus, thus transcending the new boundaries between the two countries. This supra-territorial nationalist ideology was the function of a migrant state. It was only a quarter of a century later that ‘indigenous revival’ during the 1970 election campaign brought geographical imagination to the centre of nationalism. The transition from Indo-Muslim civilisation to the Indus civilisation as a symbol of nationalist imagination characterised postBangladesh Pakistan under Z.A. Bhutto (1971–77). A similar process of adjusting vision to reality was discernible through such policy initiatives as the relocation of the capital of the new state. The initial choice of Karachi was partly dictated by its distance from the Indian border. The city had proto-cosmopolitan character as a Gujarati-dominated city distinct from the rural hinterland of Sindh. But its location in a weak, peripheral and backward



province, away from the emerging power base in Punjab, was soon considered anomalous. The Urdu-speaking migrant elite, which was identified with the centre, separated the city from the province of Sindh in 1948. It struggled to defy all moves in the direction of reintegration of the city back with Sindh for two decades. However, as in the case of integration of Bombay with Maharashtra, geography as well as history overtook the contingent divide and led to the reintegration of Karachi with Sindh in 1970. The migrant ethos worked against the wider current of public opinion in several ways. For example, the 2 to 3 million Urdu-speaking migrant community in Sindh, and 5 to 6 million migrants in the province of Punjab, shared a vision for Pakistan that remained uncomfortable with the idea of the rule of the majority. That would have practically meant the rule of the East Bengalis, at 54 per cent of the population of Pakistan. According to the mohajir and Punjabi elite, the answer lay in parity between the two wings and, therefore, in merging West Pakistan into one politicoadministrative unit to balance the numerical superiority of East Pakistan. The creation of one unit comprising all provinces and areas of the western wing provided the principle of inter-wing parity as the basis of the 1956 and 1962 constitutions, and thus put an end to federalism in West Pakistan. The migrants’ contribution to the political system can be characterised as ambivalent and controversial vis-à-vis democracy. While they occupied a high position in the state system both as political executive and higher bureaucracy, they shied away from elected assemblies because they lacked a meaningful electoral constituency of their own. The Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was elected by the legislative assemblies of the provinces now constituting Pakistan. Therefore, it represented ‘locals’. The logic of numbers militated against the option of elections, which were considered dysfunctional for the prevalent structure of power. In this situation, a federalist approach to the division of powers between the centre and provinces was shelved in favour of an essentially unitarian model of government under formal federalism. The executive managed to amass all power in its own hands and relegate the legislature to a secondary position in the business of the state. A cult of unity, couched in the Islamic discourse of nationalism and the charisma of Jinnah, was crystallised in the form of deification of the state. Gradually, a ‘bureaucratic’ centre was entrenched against ‘political’ provinces. In this way, the structure of the new state was able to maintain its legitimacy by operating within the overall



constitutional framework. Even under direct army rule, for 17 years in six decades, rule of law based on the constitution prevailed, sans the principle of rule of public representatives. The hold of constitutionalism on public life was slackened under military rule. However, the constitution continued to provide a firm and final sanction for the establishment of democracy through elections under both army and civilian rule.

THE ROLE OF THE ARMY A crucial part of the structure of the new state system was the army. We need to discuss its role in terms of its ‘catchment area’, that is, Punjab, which soon emerged as the power base of Pakistan. The role of the army in politics put Punjab at the core of the new state. Punjab was the single largest contributor to the British army in India for almost a century. It accounted for 66 per cent cavalry, 87 per cent artillery and 45 per cent infantry in the First World War (Tan 1995: 178). At the time of Partition, the province still contributed around one-third of the army personnel (Jalal 1991: 42). In the half-century before independence, men in uniform were granted lands in canal colonies. The vehement recruitment drive brought together the landed elite and the peasantry at large into what was described as a ‘quasi-military state’ (Tan 1995: 180–82). The soldiery was increasingly based on peasantproprietors who were given prior claim to voting rights in the expanding franchise. In due course, the peasant soldiers accounted for 31.6 per cent of the provincial electorate, a ratio which rose to 70 per cent in the case of the military recruitment districts of Jhelum, Rawalpindi and Attock (ibid.: 187). In 1947, one out of three able-bodied men between the age of 17 and 30, and one out of two in Rawalpindi district was in the army (Aiyer 1995: 28). In due course, Punjab represented 79 per cent of the Pakistan army. Between the two partitions of Punjab and Bengal in 1947, Punjab experienced a much larger number of communal riots, with a far deadlier cost to human life. The demobilised soldiery perpetrated violence over rival communities in an organised way as opposed to the relatively unplanned militancy in Bengal. Punjab experienced the cross-migration of around 7 to 8 million Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. It accommodated around 5 to 6 million Muslim refugees from India. All this contributed to the militarisation of politics,



ideologisation of the latent religious sources of inspiration, and securitisation of the national vision, especially with reference to the threat perceptions from India in the backdrop of the Kashmir conflict. The largely Punjab-based army, drawing on the displaced, resettled and therefore brutalised public, had little patience for the antics of politicians. For a generation after independence, the army sought to ‘stabilise’ the political system by trying to save it from the perceived disruptive and destructive activities of political parties, both inside and outside elected assemblies. It became increasingly intolerant of the parliamentary form of government, which, in its view, kept supreme authority of the state hostage in the hands of recalcitrant minority groups and individuals. The military intervention in 1958 led to transition from parliamentarism to presidentialism as enshrined in the 1962 constitution. The higher judiciary’s verdict in favour of Ayub’s coup was couched in the framework of legal positivism as operative through Kelsen’s interpretation of a successful revolution as a law-creating act (Khan 2001: 213–14). The idea of national reconstruction through a new constitutional set-up has ever since been the guiding principle of the military’s political strategy. Current approaches to praetorianism typically draw on a dichotomy between constitutional politics and military politics (see, for example, Rizvi 2002). In Pakistan, this phenomenon needs to be understood in the army’s own constitutional project. It favours presidentialism over parliamentarism in order to keep the position of chief executive safe from accountability to public representatives and thus ensure the stability of his tenure. In this way, constitutionalism provides a constant undercurrent in the army’s thinking. After every coup, the army took up the task of what is known as constitutional engineering (Mohammad Waseem 2005). Initially, the army replaced the parliamentary system based on the 1956 constitution with the presidential system under the 1962 constitution, whereby an executive president concentrated all powers in his own hands, and elections were held indirectly through an electoral college. A nationwide protest from the alienated political community and the disenfranchised public brought down the Ayub system, and with that the idea of a presidential form of government. The 1973 constitution restored parliamentarism. Unlike in 1962, the military projects of withdrawal from an overt political role in 1985 and 2002 under Zia and Musharraf respectively kept the parliamentary form of government intact in a formal sense. However, they brought about a transition to a semi-presidential system by giving the president



powers to dissolve the National Assembly and appoint chiefs of armed services and judges of higher courts under the Eighth Constitutional Amendment. This transition is comparable with the French experience where army intervention under de Gaulle facilitated transition to a semi-presidential system. Among other features of the army’s vision of constitutional democracy, two factors need special mention. The first relates to an understanding of the political party as the villain of the piece. Ayub initially provided no role for political parties in the 1962 constitution, but then incorporated it in the system under popular pressure. Similarly, Zia held the 1985 elections for the national and provincial assemblies on a non-party basis. The army discounted and disallowed the potential of political parties to organise themselves and mobilise the public in pursuit of a certain set of policies. In this way, it ended up deinstitutionalising politics, with an adverse impact on electoral democracy. Second, the army has generally sought to deactivate the clientele structures of public representatives at the constituency level by revitalising the institution of local government. This strategy is rooted in understanding of local issues in terms of a paternalistic rule as it operated under British India, whereby the peasant masses would need to be safeguarded from the oppressive hold of landlords over their lives. Also, election for local government was meant to take the steam out of the public demand for vote politics as a symbol of participation in the business of the state. Similarly, local bodies operated as a conduit for transfer of development funds and thus engage potential political cadres and workers in non-political activity away from political parties. Finally, local bodies’ elections have been always held on a non-party basis. This was meant to undermine the influence of the political class in general. The members of union councils and district councils under Ayub, Zia and Musharraf were patronised as a counterweight to Member National Assembly (MNAs) and Member Provincial Assembly (MPAs) who operated through the higher tiers of government. In this way, the apparent agenda of establishing a grassroots-level government drew essentially on a strategy of keeping the initiative away from the political elite operating at the national and provincial levels. At the other end, ethnicity played a pivotal role in the structural dynamics of democracy in Pakistan. Ethnic politics took roots in all provinces other than Punjab, the classical ‘catchment area’ for the army, which emerged as the majority province after the emergence of



Bangladesh. Initially, the political system was dominated by migrants of both Punjabi and non-Punjabi extraction from India. This rendered other ethnic communities such as Bengalis, Pakhtuns, Sindhis and the Baluch underprivileged in terms of allocation of resources for industrial and agricultural development. Their meagre representation in the state apparatuses of the army and bureaucracy as well as the business community kept them at a low position in the emergent ethnic hierarchy. Over time, Punjab was able to keep and further enhance its dominant position. The Urdu-speaking migrants, now called mohajirs, were progressively alienated from the political system as it moved in the direction of majoritarian democracy. Not surprisingly, mohajirs emerged as a stable constituency of military governments, with whom they shared a commitment to centralist rule, Islamic ideology as the principle of national integration and abhorrence for ethnic politics.3 Mohajirs declined in power and privilege after the federal capital shifted from Karachi to Islamabad in 1960. The 1970 elections led to the formation of the Sindhi-led Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) governments in both Islamabad and Karachi, and the Sindhi Language Bill was passed in the Sindh Assembly in 1972, followed by language riots. A quota system was put in place with a view to giving representation to the largely rural-based Sindhis for admission in educational institutions and appointment on jobs at the gross expense of urban-based mohajirs. Not surprisingly, the nationalist movement led by the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) has dominated mohajir politics for two decades from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s. Over time, the Pakhtun community of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) increased its representation in the army and bureaucracy as well as the national economy. The first four C-in-Cs of the Pakistan army were Pathan in ethnic terms. The Pakhtun nationalist movement predated independence, which lost initiative in the decades after partition. The urban-based middle class of NWFP, the Pakhtun variety of the Muslim ‘salariat’ of British India, gradually overtook the largely rural-based constituency of Ghaffar Khan. The latter’s vote bank declined from 51.70 per cent in 1946 for Khudai Khidmatgars to 19.4 per cent in 1970 for the National Awami party (NAP) (Amin 1988: 91–92). After resigning from office in the NWFP in protest against dismissal of the NAP government in Baluchistan by Islamabad in 1972, the NAP leadership took to the streets. The Pathan and Baluch nationalist movements acquired a militant character till after Zia released NAP leaders from jail in 1978. However, in the 1980s



and 1990s, the Afghan war created a formidable array of local patterns of leadership in the NWFP belonging to Islamic parties under the aegis of the ruling elite in Islamabad. Islamic resurgence decimated Pakhtun nationalist politics in the 2002 elections. All along, the state elite sought to manage ethnic politics with the help of Islamic ideology as the raison d’être of Pakistan. This committed the army to cooperation with Islamic elements out in the public arena.

DIMENSION OF ELECTORAL DEMOCRACY In Pakistan, the operational dynamics of democracy drew heavily on the constitutional provision for elections as the way to the establishment of the rule of public representatives. Here, competitive elections have been generally characterised by a measure of the requisite freedom for political parties to mobilise public opinion; for all adult citizens to vote, preferably in secret; for winners to take office; and for losers to act as opposition in the elected assemblies (Hayward 1987: 13–14). However, as noted earlier, these elections have taken place more often than not for a non-sovereign parliament. In common parlance, the meaning of democracy lies in electing public representatives so that people can have access to the power-wielding institutions of the state. More than law-making proper, members of elected assemblies are obliged to perform the function of articulation of interests of their constituents. It is the potential of showering patronage that keeps electoral candidates tied to their clients in the locality. Even under a military government, an exercise in ballot provides a legal cushion and a moral legitimacy for non-parliamentary forces to govern. Democracy in the typical post-colonial framework of Pakistan operates through various legal provisions for ensuring access to media and courts for electoral contestants as well as to an ‘independent’ Election Commission. For all significant stakeholders, including the army, bureaucracy, political parties, voting public and non-governmental organisations, democracy remains the ultimate normative ideal, especially as it is underscored by a consensus on the minimum procedural requirements. In a Weberian sense, the sovereign and constitutional state in Pakistan holds elections without bringing about any substantive transfer of power to the public or its representatives (Weber 1958: 239).



Typically, elections do not influence the policy structure of the government in Pakistan. The establishment is vastly more resourceful than public office holders in terms of institutional potential for access to information, talent and finances. The political party, the only institution that could aspire to control the bureaucracy in matters of public policy, remains weak and ineffectual. However, an election campaign brings forth a plethora of issues and policies that serve as indicators of public grievances as well as political responses carrying possible solutions in the form of party manifestos. During the 1990s, the mainstream parties PPP and Pakistan Muslim League (PML) under Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif respectively sought to maximise their vote by bringing in marginal and uncommitted voters. The ethnic parties such as MQM up until 1997 and Islamic parties in 2002 respectively relied on identity and ideology as vehicles for electoral mobilisation. The fact that Benazir and Nawaz Sharif were able to act as both prime ministers and opposition leaders twice pointed to prospects of a selfsustaining democratic framework of politics, even as presidents Ishaq and Leghari unceremoniously dismissed their governments. The 1997 13th Amendment restored parliamentary sovereignty by taking away presidential powers to dissolve the National Assembly and thereby dismiss the federal government. As opposed to the competitive elections of the 1990s held within an ongoing democratic framework, the 2002 elections were ‘civilianising’ in character. By then Musharraf had restored the presidential powers under the Legal Framework Order (LFO), taken a large number of politicians out of the election contest including the two ex-prime ministers through his ‘accountability drive’, and got himself ‘elected’ as president through a controversial referendum. The 1999 coup produced a familiar pattern of generational transition to younger politicians, often the relatives of previous MNAs and MPAs, on the model of the 1958 and 1977 coups. The widespread public cynicism about election results to be a foregone conclusion has led to a partisan dealignment and voter apathy. Public policy in general remained on the back burner as an election issue. The civil society operating through NGOs and media has raised issues and discussed policies largely on sufferance for political parties. This led to the emergence of electoral volatility by loosening organisational ties, as reflected in the 2002 elections. Pakistan inherited a ‘mass public’ from British India. Under late colonialism, people from the countryside, small towns and big cities



had grown out of their local social and cultural milieus following the input from political leaders and parties in electoral, agitational and ideological contexts. At the turn of the 21st century, the public continues to operate along the continuum of locality, district, province and nation, with interlocking and nested arenas of election cleavages and conflicting ideological and policy positions (Bailey 1970). For several decades, the establishment sought to define state ideology in Islamic terms and thus control the ideological power base in the country. It gradually penetrated and incrementally regulated the religious sector of public activity around shrines, festivals, madrasas and mosques (Malik 1996: 38–48). By 2002, the Islamic forces represented by the Muttahida Majlis Amal (MMA) put up a grave challenge to the state by taking away the initiative for defining state ideology. The Islamic alliance followed an ambitious project of moral cleansing of the NWFP society. In 2005, the MMA government in Peshawar sought to enact the Hasba Bill, passed by the NWFP Assembly, which would put in place an all-powerful ombudsman equipped with dictatorial powers to control public and private morality. The Bill soon ran into difficulties as the Musharraf government filed a case against it in the Supreme Court. The latter gave an ambiguous and inconclusive verdict about the unconstitutional nature of certain clauses of the Bill. The electoral victory in the NWFP provided the Islamic alliance with the legal muscle, executive power and constitutional legitimacy to operate through the provincial legislature in pursuit of its objectives to establish the rule of Shari’a. In Pakistan, as elsewhere, the party leadership has increasingly controlled the legislative process inside the elected assemblies. The legislature has traditionally provided the entry point for political careers of party leaders and members over a span of three generations, from the 1940s to the 2000s. From Daultana, Mamdot and Shaukat Hayat in Punjab, G.M. Syed and Ayub Khuhro in Sindh, Ghaffar Khan and Qayum Khan in the NWFP in the 1950s and 1960s, to Z.A. Bhutto, Wali Khan and Mufti Mahmud, and the Marri-BugtiMengal triumvirate in the 1970s and 1980s, to Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif as well as Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Maulana Fazlurrehman in the 1990s and 2000s, politicians took to their careers largely through elected assemblies. MQM leader Altaf Hussain remains a prominent exception to this rule. Others such as Asghar Khan and Imran Khan did their apprenticeship essentially outside legislatures, even as they were finally elected in the aborted 1977 and



2002 elections respectively. In this way, elected assemblies have provided an entry to political aspirants from mainstream, Islamic and ethnic parties. The British House of Commons remains the ideal for a host of politicians from the Commonwealth countries as a coordinate legislature operating as a partner of the executive. However, in Pakistan, Parliament has typically functioned as a subordinate legislature. It operates as a source of ‘entrance legitimacy’ for the purposes of government formation on the basis of a majority in the house.4 The legislature in Pakistan has provided an exit option for those political entrepreneurs from the left, right and ultra-right who sought to challenge the status quo as leaders in their own right or as cadres and workers of political parties. The left under the banner of the PPP was able to enter legislatures in a big way in the 1970 elections after living in political wilderness for a generation. Sindhi nationalists managed to get representation in the federal and provincial legislatures in large numbers from the platform of the PPP from 1970 onwards. This provided a ‘legitimate’ voice to the cause of Sindhi nationalism and thus structured the political conflict within manageable limits. Islamic parties took half a century to move to the centre of the political stage. They finally rose to dominate at least one provincial legislature and pursue their Islamic agenda after getting into office in Peshawar. Similarly, the MQM, NAP/Awami National Party (ANP) and Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP)/Balochistan National Movement (BNM)/Balochistan National Party (BNP) have represented mohajir, Pakhtun and Baluch nationalist movements on the floor of Parliament respectively. The commitment of the people to the cause of representation in elected assemblies is deeply interwoven with their ethnic and religious causes. In fact, the phenomenon of ethno-nationalist militancy can be located either to stunting of the process of transfer of power to public representatives as in the case of East Pakistan in 1971, or to dismissal and collapse of elected governments in provinces at the hands of the centre as in the case of the Baluchistan and NWFP governments in 1972 (Mohammad Waseem 2001b). Democracy is the only game in the town, legally, morally and procedurally speaking, whenever there is public space available for political players in the absence of an overt role of the army. Alternatively, when the army comes in as a maker and shaper of electoral politics, it formally operates under the principle that constitutionality defines the state in Pakistan more than any other source of legitimacy.



For the last decade-and-a-half electoral reform has regularly moved to the centre of public debate prior to each election. The demand for replacing the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system with proportional representation (PR) system has come from smaller parties, perennially losing parties and official circles in general. This demand emanated from criticism of the fact that FPTP led to over-amplification of narrow margins of voting into relatively large differences in terms of seats in elections held under that system. This happened at a huge cost to a losing mainstream party and to smaller parties, apart from wasting the large vote of losing candidates. Following the so-called Duverger’s Law, the plurality system of elections under FPTP had the mechanical effect of creating a two-party system by default, thus discriminating against the smaller parties (Duverger 1984: 35). Over time, this argument became part of the standard criticism of the performance of the traditional political leadership. On the other hand, PR ensures maximum representation of people. It operates like a camera rather than a projector. In practical terms, the opposition against FPTP came from Islamic parties, ethnic parties, middle-class elements and the official class. At the same time, PR has been the election system for the upper house Senate, and for election on reserved seats of women and minorities in national and provincial assemblies. In 2002, the Musharraf government brought about a major reform by providing for 60 reserved seats for women in the National Assembly and a proportionate number in the four provincial assemblies of Sindh, Punjab, Baluchistan and NWFP. This created a high level of visibility for women politicians in the public sphere. At the other end, the government put an end to the provision for separate electorates for non-Muslims which had governed all elections since 1985. Additionally, the size of the National Assembly was increased from 217 to 342 members, with a corresponding increase in the size of provincial assemblies. The eligibility age for voting was brought down from 21 to 18 years, thus expanding the electorate by a huge margin. Most of these reforms were carried out in response to public pressure built over years by NGOs and other activist lobbies. Largely, electoral reforms focused on improvement of the design of democracy, but failed to deliver on the substance of democracy by way of contributing to a free and fair process of casting ballots. With certain exceptions, elections have been typically marred by controversy. There is a disconnect between the state elite’s commitment to constitutionalism and its willingness to surrender initiative to the public at large through free and fair elections.



DEMOCRACY: SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND CULTURAL ASPECTS In addition to the controversial mode of entrance of public representatives into office, the level of performance of elected governments in Pakistan remained far from satisfactory in terms of formulation and implementation of policy. The top decision-making authority continued to be in the hands of the president after the 2002 elections even as Prime Minister Jamali and later Shaukat Aziz formally assumed the position of chief executive. Pakistan was readmitted in the Commonwealth in 2004 after suspension for several years after the 1999 military coup. Parliament passed the Bill to enable President Musharraf to continue to wear the uniform after 31 December 2004, in the face of opposition from the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) and MMA, the lawyer community and the liberal intelligentsia in general. Other avenues of the military’s presence in the civil sector included the establishment of the National Security Council (NSC) through an Act of Parliament and appointment of over a thousand military officers on civilian jobs. A process of merger of disparate proMusharraf factional groups in Parliament led to a ‘unified’ PML and one, instead of two, renegade PPP factions. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (2005) has continuously reported violation of freedoms of expression, assembly, association and religion. Minorities complained of retention of separate electorates by other means. Concern for the dwindling freedom of press was often expressed by journalists in the face of court cases and police oppression. Democracy and economic development moved ahead jointly in the West. Russia, Japan and other late modernisers short-circuited the route to development through authoritarian and communist models of government, finally opting for democracy in both theory and, to some extent, practice. Various Southeast Asian countries ranging from South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia to Singapore established the socalled ‘development states’, which were characterised by a democratic deficit. The second generation of political elite in post-colonial societies and the Third World in general took up the issues of commodity pricing, equitable distribution of resources at the global level, and need for rationalising the role of MNCs in pursuit of the agenda for a new international economic order. The Group of 77 operated from a Third Worldist perspective, couched in a dichotomous model of centre and



periphery, largely drawing on the works of Wallerstein and Gunder Frank. By the 1990s, the discourse about development had moved back to a unit-specific approach, focused on the domestic scene on the one hand and to the political economy approach, thus bringing in the issue of democracy, on the other hand. The argument linking economic development to democracy leads to conceptual tension between the consideration of national dynamics of representative rule and the logic of international dynamics of the flow of capital, technology, communication and information. Even at home, economic policy has been most typically the preserve of financial bureaucracy, such as in South Asia. Similarly, the development states of Southeast Asia represented a state-centric model of policy-making. They operated with relative autonomy from the powerful groups and classes, and even sought to undermine the non-productive pursuits of certain groups, condemned as rent-seeking behaviour (Mohammad Waseem 2001a). The disconnect between democracy and economic development has remained operational in the region. In Pakistan, formulation of economic policy has been the preserve of the Planning Commission, Finance Ministry, and other economic development and planning ministries and divisions of the federal government. Substantive input from elected governments into economic policy has been an exception rather than the rule. Only under Bhutto (1971–77), the policy of nationalisation of industries, banks and insurance companies was carried out under the influence of leftist elements. Also, Nawaz Sharif (1990–93) pursued a policy of liberalisation drawing upon his own background in industry along with his core constituency of the business community. In general, the economic growth strategy was based on allocation of financial resources from within and outside the country to the industrial elite. Issues such as employment generation, poverty alleviation, equitable distribution of wealth and social welfare were put on the back burner. General Ayub’s policies of import of capital from the West and subsidisation of implements of production combined with low wages for labour and control over trade union activity introduced class dynamics in the political system of Pakistan. Two-and-a-half-million industrial workers contributed to the overthrow of Ayub’s government by taking part in the nationwide agitation against it, and paved the way for the ascendancy of populist forces in the 1970 elections. At the other end, concentration of industrial development in Karachi along with a substantive sprinkling of manufacturing activity throughout Punjab, as well as the



Green Revolution with its epicentre in that province, brought about the phenomenon of regional disparity.5 The Bengali and Sindhi nationalist movements assumed the character of a mandated force in East Pakistan and Sindh respectively, which posed a serious challenge to the state’s structural dynamics. In 1971, the former broke away after a civil war, followed by the Indo-Pakistan war. In post-Bangladesh Pakistan, the establishment was able to selectively accommodate the nationalist aspirations of Sindhis under a Sindhi prime minister in Islamabad. While Bhutto represented the restoration of parliamentary democracy in Pakistan after more than a decade, his government pursued policies of nationalisation of the industrial and financial sectors that led to flight of capital, closing down of industrial units, and slowing down of the rate of economic growth. Indeed, the story of Pakistan’s economic development is paradoxical. The military governments of Ayub, Zia and Musharraf represent a period of maximum economic growth, while the elected governments have generally lagged in this respect. A fundamental feature of these military governments was the strategic alliance with the US and the West in general. Washington had a close ally first in Ayub against the perceived threat of the Soviet Union, then in Zia against the Red Army in Kabul, and now in Musharraf against the terrorist threat in the region. This alliance accrued economic benefits in the form of US aid, and support from the World Bank and other financial institutions. That in turn ensured capital inflow. The issue of democracy under Musharraf came up as an unwelcome irritant during policy considerations in Washington at various levels. The overriding US agenda of war against terrorism ensured continuing support for Musharraf in Washington. His government claimed a whopping 8.4 per cent growth rate in 2004–5 along with 18.3 per cent growth for the manufacturing sector and a per capita income of US$ 736, up from US$ 579 in 2002–3. However, inflation grew by 9.3 per cent, with food inflation even higher at 12.8 per cent, which severely hit the poorer sections of the population (State Bank of Pakistan 2005). However, at the micro-economic level, the situation was far less satisfactory. According to the Human Development Index (HDI) in 2004–05 (see Table 5.1), Pakistan ranked 142 in a list of 177 countries, with an HDI value of 0497. The Human Poverty Index (HPI) value for Pakistan was 41.9 per cent, which put it at 71st position out of 99 countries. Pakistan scored the lowest position in the Gender-related Development Index (GDI) for South Asia at 120 with 0.471 GDI value. Similarly, Pakistan ranked 64th in the



Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) which was based on its 37th position in the world in terms of the ratio of women’s seats in Parliament, and 129th and 139th in terms of estimated female-earned income and its ratio to male-earned income. The section of population living below US$ 1 a day was 13.4 per cent, below US$ 2 a day 65.6 per cent in 1990–2002, and below the national poverty line, 32.6 per cent (Mehbubul Haq Centre for Human Development 2005: 1–4). TABLE 5.1 Human Development Index: 2004–05 Indices


GDP per capita (PPP US$) (HDI), 2002 Human Poverty Index (HPI-1) rank Population living below US$ 1 a day (%), 1990–2002 Population living below US$ 2 a day (%), 1990–2002 Population living below the national poverty line (%), 1990–2001 Total population (million), 2002 Urban population (%), 2002 Public health expenditure (% of GDP), 2001 Infant mortality rate (per I,000 live births), 1970 Maternal mortality ratio reported (per 100,000 live births), 1985–2002 Public expenditure on education (% of GDP), 1999–2001 Internet users (per 1,000 people), 2002 GDP (US$ billions), 2002 Net foreign direct investment inflows (%of GDP), 1990 Total debt service (% of GDP), 2002 Public expending on education (% of GDP),1999–2001 Public expenditure of health (% of GDP), 1990 Military expenditure (% of GDP), 2002

1.9 71 13.4 65.6 32.6 149.9 33.7 1.0 120 530 1.9 103 59.1 0.6 4.8 1.8 1.1 4.7

Source: Human Development Report 2005.

Apart from the economic deficit, the democratic potential of the state in Pakistan has suffered due to the lingering human rights deficit. The government committed itself to various instruments of human rights both as a measure of diplomatic credibility and as a projection of professed ideals for state action. Pakistan has signed 19 out of 52 major international human rights instruments, while the average for 193 countries is 24. Among these instruments, Pakistan signed 30 per cent instruments sponsored by the UN, 46 per cent by the ILO and 57 per cent by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Pakistan signed three out of 11 instruments prohibiting discrimination in different spheres of social life, and three out of five instruments on the protection of women and children (Inayatullah 2005: 1–2).



TABLE 5.2 Status of Major International Human Rights Instruments International Human Rights Instruments

International Convention of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women Convention Against torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment/Punishment Convention of the Rights of the Child

Year of Signing

1948 1965 1966 1966 1979 1984 1989

Source: Columns 1–6, UN 2003b.

DEMOCRACY AND ISLAM How far is Pakistan’s experience with democracy relevant for the international revival of interest in the democratic potential of Islam? How far is the US-led initiative for democratisation relevant for the functioning of elected governments in Muslim countries? For example, the long-standing public perception in Pakistan is that American administration has been the mainstay of successive military governments in Islamabad. The general scepticism about the fairness of the 2002 presidential referendum and later parliamentary elections is widely shared by the population at home and abroad. At the same time, there is a realisation that Washington has been putting pressure on President Musharraf to move towards substantive democratisation in the sense of broadening the support base of the ruling set-up. One can argue that Western input into the process of democratisation in Pakistan has operated through the Commonwealth, European Union and to some extent relevant democratic organisations from the United States. Observer groups from these countries cast a shadow on the fairness of the election outcome. However, the Musharraf government continued to follow its own agenda in the face of controversies relating to legal, constitutional and procedural matters before and after the election. The process of democratisation in Pakistan in 2002 amply displayed the political dynamics of the country in terms of the continuing hold of the institutional and constitutional framework of the



state over political initiative. This was reflected through the state elite’s role in laying out the turf for competitive elections on its own terms. The dynamics of the bipolar world during the Cold War period increasingly committed Washington on the side of Israel, which was perceived as a Western outpost in the Middle Eastern region that was bristling with hostility against the West. The older tradition of Orientalism in Western scholarship ominously contributed to new interpretations of Islam as a civilisation that was not yet ready to embrace modernity (Lewis 1993: 153–54). The Arab–Israel conflict continued to invoke a civilisational metaphor as a broad reflection of the prevalent orthodoxy based on the dichotomy between tradition and modernity. The non-combative oil-producing countries of the Gulf that generally did not share borders with Israel represented a countervailing force in keeping the level of Western tolerance for nondemocratic dynastic regimes of the Islamic world relatively high. Lack of democracy in the region was generally ascribed to the authoritarian spirit of Islam. The idea was that the West was obliged to live with it as long as it served its broad policy objectives in the region. The intellectual discourse about the Middle East in the last quarter of the 20th century was couched in a dichotomous model of Christian and Islamic traditions in the context of shaping the agenda for democracy. Huntington (1991: 13) finds a strong correlation between Western Christianity and democracy spawning the three waves of democracy. During the first wave, the Protestant Reformation heralded or reinvigorated the movement of freedom of conscience, moral duty to resist the tyrannical rule, and the principle of separation of church and state in both thought and practice. In the second wave of democracy during the early post-war years, the Christian democratic parties of Europe promoted constitutionalism and human rights, and injected a communitarian discourse into the prevalent body of ideas relating to liberal democracy. Finally, the third wave of democracy was an overwhelming Catholic wave emanating from the Second Vatican Council encyclical in 1965 (Thomas 1998: 4–6). Together, these waves bring out a positive role of religion in establishing democracy in Christian and post-Christian societies. Not surprisingly, the Christian theories of democracy are increasingly part of the matrix of research into the role of religion in politics. For example, the consent theory indicates that people have the right to a dual appointment of their rulers, both divine and human. The participatory theory demonstrates faith in man’s capacity for political responsibility through collective action such as



general elections. The defensive theory takes the opposite view of human inclination to injustice, which necessitates democracy as an institutional restraint on the corrupt use of power (Chaplin 1998: 991–98). At the same time, however, the Western view, inasmuch as it was influenced by the Christian theories of democracy, denied a democratic impulse to other faith-based civilisations. Huntington (1991: 27–28) found Confucianism inherently authoritarian and Islam hardly compatible with democracy in practice, whatever egalitarian and voluntarist doctrines it might espouse in theory. In this way, the civilisational mode of thinking couched in the neoclassical Orientalist framework of ‘difference’ increasingly essentialised Islam towards the close of the 20th century. This process led to the reification of Islam as a political ideology by crystallising its symbols and shaping its profile. The trans-cultural dynamics of understanding brought forth two rival essentialisms of Islam and the West. This dichotomy was operationalised through the discourse of the two opposing cultural universes characterised by civility, rationality and equanimity on the one hand, and terrorism, subjectivity and despotism on the other. This mega-construct of global dimensions tends to encapsulate the study of the economic, political, administrative and cultural aspects of individual Muslim societies. As a result, the civilisational context has generally underlined the Western agenda for democratisation of the Muslim East. The epistemological foundations of this approach rest on the dichotomy of Islam and the West, even as the non-Western world, including the Muslim world, has undergone fundamental changes in the form of political, economic, cultural, educational and administrative Westernisation during the last 200 years (Darling 1979: 99–145). This process created new patterns of rule, new concepts of justice and public morality, new forms of government formation, and new demands for democratic behaviour throughout the length and breadth of the Muslim world. This may be considered the greatest inter-civilisational borrowing in recent history. Democracy as the most significant import from the West in the form of a normative ideal has been universally operative in the Muslimmajority states. It is true that the institutional apparatus for the operationalisation of this ideal often defaulted in terms of upholding the mass mandate in the business of the state. However, the discourse of difference across the lines of faith-based civilisations does not bear a scrutiny into the normative and behavioural patterns of the Muslim societies, which carry the imprint of a substantive legacy of direct or



indirect Western influence. ‘Meshing of civilisations’ is a more appropriate expression for what happened during the recent decades and centuries (Tirkyian 2003). The study of Pakistan and other contemporary Muslim societies has been de-contextualised inasmuch as the means and ends of democracy have lost touch with the agenda of establishing the rule of public representatives. Instead, democracy is increasingly conceived in terms of non-violent characteristics of public life and the absence of potential or actual Islamic resurgence. For example, what used to be the study of Islam in the politics of Pakistan is now offered as the study of Pakistan itself. The political context is lost on the way in favour of an inquiry into the faith-based activities both inside and outside the prescribed rules of public behaviour. The second and even more significant aspect of de-contextualisation of the study of Muslim societies is a radical shift to the textual analysis of their political behaviour. The process of essentialisation of Islam in recent years can be located to rediscovery and reinterpretation of the classical texts in preference to the social, economic and political experiences of Muslim individuals and communities on the ground. Western scholars of Islam have generally shaped the idiom of trans-cultural understanding by seeking authenticity of their argument from ‘original’ sources such as the Quran, Hadith and medieval treatises of Islamic scholars. Oriental philology contributed to the transformation of these texts into Weberian idealtypes (Said 1978: 259). This text-based profile of Islam cuts across age and culture in a grossly ahistorical and, therefore, anomalous pattern of argument. As discussed earlier, the study of the role of religion in Christian society in the context of democracy had been largely emancipated from the hermeneutics of the text in favour of consideration of normative standards and behavioural patterns influenced by religious teachings (Salvatore 1997: 25). As opposed to this, Western scholarship about religion in Muslim societies follows a different path regarding the use of text. The alibi for this comes from two sources: first, that Muslim scholars themselves use scriptural texts to posit their arguments; second, that Islam is a different kind of religion, especially as it was enshrined in a body of laws operative within an Islamic state from the very beginning (Lewis 1993: 4–5). This obfuscates the meaning of social and cultural patterns as reflected through exchange networks across tribes, castes and sectors in Pakistan. This has implications for rendering the most significant features of ‘lived Islam’ at the beginning of the 21st century out of context (Ahmed and Reifeld 2004: xii–xvi).



We can argue that the potential for growth of democracy in Pakistan needs to be discussed in the proper context of exercise of state power on the one hand and the strength of civil society on the other. Pakistan is one of the leading examples of an ongoing struggle for democracy in the Muslim world. For half a century, Islamist groups and parties grappled with the issues of establishing the rule of Shari’a in the country and a moral society based on the teachings of Islam, even as they were operating from the margins of the political system. We can outline three major phases of politics of Islam in Pakistan. During the first phase, ulema and Islamic elements in general operated as pressure groups in favour of establishing the rule of Shari’a in the country. For two decades, Islamic activism remained confined to street agitation and the media campaign against the perceived secular policies and personnel of the government. The demand for Islamisation generally focused on changing the source of law, declaring the sovereignty of Allah in the constitution and removing unIslamic provisions from the statute book. To that extent, Islamic legalism remained the dominant mode of expression of religious pressure as a defining variable for the legitimacy of the new state. The second phase started in the shadow of the emergence of mass politics of the ethnic and leftist variety such as the Bengali nationalism led by the Awami League in East Pakistan and Bhutto’s populist movement in West Pakistan. The state establishment looked for allies against the emergent democratic forces that challenged the status quo, characterised by the supremacy of military, bureaucracy, capitalists and the perceived Islamic forces. An informal khaki–mullah alliance emerged on the political scene. It failed to deliver in the short run inasmuch as Z.A. Bhutto ascended to power in 1971 and followed a relatively secular approach in different spheres of public policy. However, the military and ulema parties established a long-standing working relationship that remained intact for the following three decades. The 1970 elections had returned 18 MNAs on the ticket of various Islamic parties, which graduated from pressure group politics to participation in the business of the state from the floor of elected assemblies. During the third phase of Islamic politics, which started after the Soviet incursion in Afghanistan in 1979, Islamic forces got deeply engaged in jihad across the border, with the active support of both Islamabad and Washington. During this period, Pakistan worked closely with the mujahideen in Afghanistan, while Islamic parties enormously expanded their institutional and financial resources across the



nation in pursuit of the guerrilla war in Afghanistan. But 9/11 led to the war against the Taliban and the latter’s overthrow. Islamic parties joined hands in their situation of adversity and established the Afghan Jihad Council, which later emerged as the Muttahida Majlis Amal (MMA). In 2002, the MMA won elections in the Pakhtun belt of the NWFP, stretching into Baluchistan. Various factors were responsible for this: the shared Pakhtun identity with Taliban; the breakdown of the social fabric of Pakhtun society during the two decades of the Afghan war; and the Musharraf government’s ‘accountability drive’ that discredited the established leadership. It is clear that the story of Islamic ascendancy through the ballot needs to be understood in the context of an unstable regional setting, the civil–military crisis at home and the ideological framework of politics in Pakistan.

CONCLUSION Politics in Pakistan can be defined in terms of a perennial struggle for democratisation. The undercurrent of constitutionalism characterised all the ruling dispensations, based either on elite bargain within the political community or, increasingly, between the military–bureaucratic elite and politicians with a tilt in favour of the former. Two models of democratic dispensations can be outlined in terms of patterns of authority. The first is characterised by parliamentary sovereignty, the elected executive wielding supreme power and civilian control over military. The early post-independence ruling set-up under Jinnah and Liaqat enjoyed civilian supremacy. However, the governor-general and later the president as well as civil bureaucracy wielded immense power from outside Parliament. Similarly, the Bhutto government (1971–77) directed the business of the state with relative autonomy from non-parliamentary forces. However, by the time Bhutto came to power, 13 years of rule by Generals Ayub and Yahya had turned the army into a formidable political actor. While Liaqat was able to abort an incipient military coup in 1951, Bhutto failed in that respect in 1977. Later, the Nawaz Sharif government managed to restore parliamentary sovereignty in a legal sense by passing the 13th Amendment on 1 April 1997. However, it faced a delicate situation of civil–military relations whereby the army had become an active player on the political stage after 11 years of rule by Zia. Policy differences between Prime



Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Pervez Musharraf over Vajpayee’s visit to Lahore in 1998 and later the Kargil conflict in 1999 led to the former’s overthrow at the latter’s hands. The model of civilian supremacy over military characterised the democratic dispensation during the first parliamentary period (1947–58) in a formal sense. However, it was the civil bureaucracy that enjoyed virtual control over policy-making at that time, while public representatives functioned essentially as a source of constitutional legitimacy. Under Z.A. Bhutto, Parliament enjoyed sovereignty both legally and politically inasmuch as it was able to take innovative action in the realm of public policy and institution building. The PPP government (1971–77) remains the only example of a clear supremacy of parliament over non-elected institutions, both de facto and de jure, throughout the history of Pakistan. The second model of democratic dispensation is based on a constitutional framework called diarchy, whereby the final authority of the state is shared between the parliamentary and non-parliamentary forces. Diarchy has operated in two distinct ways; one is based on the president in uniform along with a ‘nominated’ prime minister such as the Zia–Junejo duo (1985–88) or the Musharraf–Shaukat Aziz combine (2004 onwards). In this model, the president continues to keep the political initiative, including the nomination of the prime minister, in his own hands. The prime minister does not have a political constituency of his own in the country and is, therefore, wholly dependent on the president. The other form of diarchy is based on what was known in common parlance as the ‘rule of troika’, which represented a nonmilitary president, a directly elected prime minister and the COAS. In this arrangement, the prime minister represented the weakest link. The two governments of Benazir Bhutto (1988–90 and 1993–96) and the first government of Nawaz Sharif (1990–93) can be squarely placed in that category. The democratic credentials of the diarchic arrangement for sharing power between president and prime minister was frequently challenged by political opposition, the legal community and world opinion in general. The social and cultural impact of electoral democracy on the general public has been far from insignificant. Over time, the dynamics of vote politics brought about a constantly expanding base for politicians in terms of public mobilisation along issues and policies. Democracy in Pakistan unfolded itself through a continual process of the circulation of elite, from the landed elite to party workers



belonging to middle- and lower-middle-class backgrounds to exmilitary personnel. The newest category of politicians has emerged from the ranks of Islamic parties. One can conclude that the clue to the rise and fall of democratic ruling set-ups in Pakistan can be located in the constitutional legacy from British India, uneasy federalism combined with ethnic revival, lack of institutional potential for conflict resolution, as well as the unstable regional setting. The observations in this paper clearly point to the futility of a culturist approach to the issue of democracy in Muslim-majority states such as Pakistan. It is argued that a structural approach to politics has the necessary potential to explain the lack of democracy in that country. While it shared the structural dynamics of the state with India as a legacy of British colonialism, it also inherited certain distinct features, such as economic and political underdevelopment of the territories constituting Pakistan, including Punjab as the catchment area for recruitment of the army. The partition of India was accompanied by a process of structural discontinuity in Pakistan as opposed to India, characterised by the preponderant role of Islamic ideology as the raison d’être of the new state, relocation of the political centre first at Karachi and then in Islamabad, and ascendancy of the migrant elite in the state system. Under these conditions, the institutional imbalance between the two state apparatuses of the army and bureaucracy on the one hand, and Parliament and political parties on the other, created a dichotomy between state and democracy. While the state elite gave priority to national security, Islamic ideology, concentration of authority in the hands of the executive, the centre and the president, and developmentalism in general, the political leadership focused on the agenda for representative rule, pluralism, provincial autonomy, parliamentary sovereignty and a distributive mechanism for allocation of resources across ethnic and class divisions. The increasing reliance on the Islamic idiom emerged as a function of the perennial crisis of civil– military relations. As opposed to the culturist analyses of the relationship between Islam and democracy, the case of Pakistan points to the central position of the power structure and its institutional expression in Pakistan as the real source of Islamic ascendancy.


An extended version of this paper written in 1967 was widely distributed in mimeographed form during the 1960s and was published in French translation under



3. 4. 5.


the title ‘Armee et Bureaucratic dans la Politique du Pakistan’, in Anouar Abdel Malek (ed.), L’Armee Dans La Nation, Alger, SNED, 1975. For a detailed analysis of domination of the mohajir elite in the Muslim League, civil bureaucracy and the business community, see Mohammad Waseem (1999). For a sociological perspective on mohajirs, see Ahmad (1998: chapter 5 and 6). For discussion of the two sources of legitimacy, ‘entrance ‘ and ‘performance’ of governments in office, see Diamond (1989). For discussion of regional disparity, see Ahmed and Hussain (1976).

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INTRODUCTION Turkey, in the eyes of many seasoned observers, is considered to be an ‘odd ball’ when it comes to international comparisons. Some readers would immediately object even to the title of this paper, hurrying to point out that Turkey is not a Muslim country or society. However, social science suggests that, each country, institution, entity, although exhibiting ‘unique’ characteristics, can, nevertheless, render itself to crude comparisons when the right sort of parameters are chosen. An attempt will be made in this survey to present data and indulge in an analysis about Turkey within a conceptual framework that might make some sort of a comparison possible. The key concepts to be utilised in this endeavour will be organic/induced development; a bureaucratic ruling tradition; institutional and social dualism; and centre–periphery interaction. The initiator of the organic/induced development concepts, Peter Sugar (1964), observed that economic and political developments in several parts of the world had different reasons for change, and countries changed at different times and in different manners.



According to Sugar, in most of Western Europe, society developed ‘organically’. [After the] disintegration of the feudal society, there was a revival of trade and of town life. This increased process of urbanization brought about a new force in society, the bourgeoisie. The need of the bourgeoisie for freedom and security to carry on his trading activities and the need by the ruler to have the support of this group created an alliance which led to the establishment of the centralised state. Later, when the bourgeoisie wanted to extend its power still further at the expense of the ruler, in some countries, the great revolutions of the eighteenth century took place and this eventually led to the establishment of constitutional government and a well-regulated but individualistic society (ibid. : 147).

The developments that took place in the Ottoman Turkish polity, however, were of a completely different nature. According to Sugar (ibid.: 149), a period of ‘induced’ development requires, in order of time, (a) an outside stimulus, usually in the form of overwhelming power; (b) the emergence of a leader (or leaders) who seek to elevate their nation to a position of like power; (c) the creation of a new bureaucracy and a change in the political structure; (d) economic change, planned and in part executed by the central government; and (e) the emergence of a middle class followed by a variety of further expressions of collective economic and other interest. The Ottoman Empire provides an excellent example of a state that first undertook reforms in order to reverse an unfavourable balance of power. The military superiority of the West had become apparent by the end of the 17th century and the Ottoman reforming sultans, starting with Selim III (1789–1808), began to borrow Western techniques and institutions in order to withstand Western assault and preserve the empire. It is important to note here that the systemic goal was the preservation of the empire and the tool used was selective borrowing. There was widespread belief in the inherent superiority of the Islambased social structure of the empire; therefore, no radical transformation of the society was envisaged at the time. Between 1699 and 1839, the realisation of the gravity of the Western threat and the emergence of a number of reforming sultans who attempted to revitalise the empire constitute the first two stages of the ‘induced’ development of the Ottoman Empire. The third stage, that is, the creation of a new bureaucracy and change in the political structure, was attempted during the Tanzimat (Reorganisation) Period



(1839–77). The political reform that ensued had the idea of expanding the reforms into fields other than the military and came about mostly due to the insistent demands of Western powers for equality and guarantees to the Christian population in the Ottoman Empire. During this period, the government became increasingly centralised and certain improvements in the financial, military and judicial fields were made. But the Tanzimat bureaucracy had little notion about economic matters, and this field was entrusted mostly to the Christian and Jewish subjects of the state. The efforts of a group of Muslim traders to establish themselves proved abortive because of the privileged position of non-Muslim traders under the Capitulations (Davidson 1963; Hershlag 1964, 1968; Issawi 1966). Mostly for this reason, a Turkish middle class making a living out of trade, manufacture, communications or even the professions did not arise, and this constituted a serious barrier to economic development. The issue of economic growth did not attract official attention until quite late in the 19th century. By then, Western economic penetration, made possible by low tariffs, had destroyed most of the handicrafts industry in the country and there was only the beginnings of modern industry, mostly military establishments, owned and run by the state (Bonne 1955; Cook 1970; ÏnalcIk 1970; Sarç 1940; Vucinich, 1965). The Young Turks who assumed power in 1908 attached importance to economic issues and tried to prepare the basis for economic development, but their efforts were interrupted by consecutive wars, and the end of the First World War signalled the defeat and dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. Thus, although the first two stages of ‘induced’ development took place in the Ottoman Empire, the third stage, that is, the creation of a new bureaucracy and change in the political structure, was only partially realised. And the last two stages, those of significant economic development leading to the emergence of a Turkish middle class, did not come about. These latter stages and changes, which were only realised during the Republic, were crucial for the development of democracy and the Turkish version of secularism. The process of ‘induced’ development was to be continued under the nationalist leaders of the Turkish Republic after 1923. But this was radically different from the Ottoman period. Systemic goals had changed from defensive modernisation to total transformation of the system, with an intention to be a member of the Western family of nations. The tool used was no longer selective borrowing, but wholesale borrowing, and adaptation of Western institutions and techniques.



‘Westernisation’, to the republican leaders of Turkey, meant the establishment of a strong, unified national state enjoying full political and economic independence where secularism, nationalism and positivism provided the driving force instead of religion. Turkish leaders emphasised economic growth from the start because they believed that without a modern industrialised economy, Turkey could not become a fully independent state (Gökalp 1959; Kuran 1966). The years 1923–30 were the stocktaking years and priority during this time was given to the consolidation of power and establishment of the regime. This did not mean that the period was devoid of significant social and political changes. The Turkish leaders set about transforming society along Western models. First to go was the religious hierarchy since it was incompatible with the concept of a secular state. The sultanate and the caliphate were abolished and their functions transferred to the civil bureaucracy. The legal system was overhauled and Shari’a-based (Islamic law) codes were replaced with Western ones. Western clothing and the Latin alphabet were adopted, and symbolic changes were made, such as the adoption of the hat instead of the fez (the Ottoman headgear) and the Gregorian calendar instead of Hicri year (AD 632, when Prophet Mohammed migrated from Mecca to Medina). Furthermore, efforts were made to form a new bureaucracy instilled with the values of the Republic, and measures were taken to win the loyalty of the section of the bureaucracy inherited from the Ottoman Empire. This was most important because the bureaucracy was to be the main agent of the Turkish ruling elite in their efforts to transform Turkish society (Heper 1985). The radical change from a religious empire to a secular republic, and the creation of a new bureaucracy imbued with ideals of the new regime constituted the third stage in the Ottoman Turkish polity’s induced development process. The next stage, that is, economic change and planned growth, in part executed by the central government, was realised under the policy of etatism (state-initiated and -sponsored economic development). The policy of etatism had both intended and unintended consequences. Under it, Turkey made considerable progress in various aspects of economic development and the basis for further development was prepared. The structural changes that came about in the economy enabled Turkey to break the vicious circle of poverty and set it on a course of further development. On the other hand, structural changes



of this magnitude should not have been expected to have any social consequences. A growing industrial labour force, improved infrastructure and better communications, all contributed to an accelerated pace of social differentiation and created a problem of social integration. Friction between various social groups began to emerge, particularly due to the failure of the state to distribute the development burden evenly. The situation was aggravated by the excesses of the bureaucracy, and dissatisfaction began to be expressed more often and with greater intensity. By the end of the Second World War, the Republic was fast approaching a crisis point and it could be averted only by a drastic change of policy or more repression (Göymen 1974: 101–02). A decision for liberalisation was taken under these circ*mstances, immediately following the end of the Second World War. This change of policy enabled various viewpoints to be crystallised around a multitude of political parties, pressure groups and opinion groups, and accelerated political pluralisation. A main target of these newly emerging organisations and groups was etatism and some early Republican policies. The application of etatism had left various social groups dissatisfied. A main contributing factor was the confusion of etatist policies with wartime contingencies and shortages. Furthermore, what these groups were really revolting against was the bureaucratic ruling tradition nurturing and guiding etatism. In a sense, the emergence of these groups was the success of etatist policies. It seemed that the demand and the decision for liberalisation had taken place in quite an unorthodox manner for the Turkish polity. It was not the state that had independently deemed necessary and formulated a new course of action, but in this case it looked as if the state was merely responding to a set of autonomous opinions, wishes and pressures, which had formed outside the source of political authority. In other words, the impression was given that the atmosphere created by etatist policies had been conducive to bringing about a significant organic chance in the Turkish polity. To be sure, this did not mean that all traces of induced development disappeared overnight. Quite the contrary, various forms of inducement are still with us today. But it looked as if a certain turning point had been reached and an increasing number of autonomous decisions would be taken in Turkish society (Göymen 1976: 111). The process of modernity in Turkey was marked by the progressive creation of formally distinct social structures, adapted from Western models, to which differentiated political and administrative tasks were assigned. But in this process the older informal institutional base (the



old formal institutional base having been destroyed through political changes at the start of the Republic) of traditional society still lingered. Although eroded and embattled, it struggled to remain alive, retaining positions of influence. Thus, the formal institutional dualism (secular Western institutions and Shari’a-based religious institutions existing side by side and in competition with one another) of the Ottoman Empire was retained by the Republic on an informal basis. Formally superimposed institutions patterned after Western models coexisted with earlier, indigenous institutions of a traditional type in a complex pattern of heterogeneous overlapping. This not only proved to be a serious barrier to economic development, but also brought the masses into serious conflict with the modernising elite. The elite, bent on ‘modernising’ the country, tried various methods of inducement to facilitate a departure from traditional social, economic and political patterns of life that the masses were accustomed to and in some measure cherished. The modernising elite tried to impose a ‘modernisation parcel’, which also included etatism in it, upon the populace against their will. Etatism, aiming at a fast pace of development and industrialisation, which in turn required a speedy transformation of old attitudes and values into new ones conducive to development, emphasised the cleavages and engendered the conflict between the elite and the masses. In fact, if the rural traditional elite, who supported the modernising national elite in a limited way in exchange for the recognition of their local privileged status, had not acted as mediators between these two groups, it would probably have proved more difficult to preserve the stability of society. The modernising national elite (the centre), from the very beginning felt obliged to make concessions to the rural traditional elite (the periphery), and ‘diluted’ their modernisation parcel. Later on, when transition to a multi-party system was made, the antagonism, suspicions, fears and the resentment of the masses (the periphery) were channelled by opinion leaders and political brokers (who in most cases were the rural traditional elite having ended their ‘alliance’ with the modernising elite) to oppose the modernising elite (the centre) in the polls. This struggle between the centre and the periphery can best be explained with a discussion of the concept of the bureaucratic ruling tradition, its origins, aims, as well as factors that eventually challenged it. The Ottoman Empire, in the wake of military defeats and setbacks, initiated a series of reforms that led to a kind of ‘defensive modernisation’ and ‘Westernisation in spite of the West’. A coalition of military and



civilian bureaucracy, joined by some intellectuals, paved the way. The ascendancy of this coalition, while introducing Western types of institutions and processes, became more and more pronounced. The particular style of centralised administration; the dedicated elitist approach; the type of political and economic nationalism mixed with a dose of xenophobia; and eventually the secularist imprint, all created the bureaucratic ruling tradition. The same tradition lingered because it was the same coalition that led the process, culminating in the establishment of the Turkish Republic. This tradition was dominant during the benevolent one-party system in Turkey during the 1923–46 period (Göymen 1999). During this early Republican period, the centre was dominant in all aspects. An internally consistent and all-encompassing reform programme and structural changes were imposed from the centre over the periphery. The centralised administrative system and the bureaucracy were the main instruments in asserting this authority and programme. A number of factors, however, began to challenge this situation, eventually forcing change. This change was gradual, but culminated in the eventual withering away of the bureaucratic ruling tradition.

FACTORS FORCING CHANGE The factors gradually forcing change can be grouped under six headings. This combination of internal and external factors has become instrumental in bringing about almost continuous changes, paving the way for a more democratic, participatory, transparent, accountable, decentralised and people-oriented system of government and administration (Göymen 2004). 1. The first of these factors is the transition from a single-party system to a multi-party regime and competitive politics in the aftermath of the Second World War. Due to this transition, representative institutions were established and, in spite of sporadic crises, have attained a degree of maturity and functionality. However, recently, the shortcomings of representative democracy have been extensively debated upon, leading to the mushrooming of informal participatory mechanisms as well as demands for reform in state–citizen relations and the administration.



2. Mechanisation of farming during the 1940s and 1950s increased productivity on the land; and a fast-increasing population and the relative ‘opening’ of society culminated in speedy urbanisation (still continuing, but at a slower pace), and the emergence of several small, medium-sized and metropolitan centres. This led to an extensive local government system, with representative organs and directly elected officials. This, in turn, enhanced the importance of local politics and local politicians, beginning to tip the centre–periphery balance (imbalance) towards the latter. 3. Following the period of state-sponsored and -led economic development and pursuance of semi-autarkic and etatist policies, the gradual ‘opening’ of the Turkish economy; adoption of neo-liberal/export-oriented policies (particularly after 1980s); the customs union with the European Union (in 1995); and a sizeable and influential entrepreneurial class supportive of reforms emerged. More recently, these groups began advocating principles of good governance, a new division of societal labour between the state, and emphasised rule of law as well as extended human rights. 4. Social, political, economic differentiation, pluralisation of society and institutions, and multidimensional contacts with the outside world led to the emergence of a sizeable civil society and several types of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) beginning to share functions and responsibilities with the state. Many of these NGOs and structures of civil society began questioning the traditional role and status of the state. Subservience of the individual to the almost ‘sacred’ and paternalistic state began to be reversed and a new concept of state ‘in the service of the citizen’ gained ground. Thus, civil society has become a potent force supportive of further democratisation, decentralisation and devolution, enhanced individual and collective rights, and further regional and global integration. 5. All these changes could not have been sufficiently disseminated and deliberated over without an effective and extensive media. In Turkey, such a media exists and is extremely dynamic. Several dozen nationwide, and more than 300 regional, TV networks, and over 1,500 national, regional and local radio stations are functional, most of them utilising the latest technology. These are joined by an extensive print media, representing different



political platforms and diverging views. Altogether, the existence of such a media facilitates extensive discussion, joined by an increasing number of stakeholders. It is fair to say that most of this media is generally in favour of transformations in polity and society. 6. Historically, external influence and factors have played an important role in triggering change in the Ottoman Turkish continuum. The defensive modernisation of the Ottoman Empire and the dynamics of induced development have already been discussed. The transition to multi-party politics had its internal and external stimuli. The latest and probably the most significant factor instigating/inducing change in Turkish society has been their candidacy of the European Union (EU). The ‘road map’ prepared by the EU and the Turkish ‘National Programme’ to harmonise with EU legislation, standards and institutions has been the singlemost important factor in bringing about further constitutional-institutional changes. These changes will pick up pace because on 9 October 2005 Turkey started accession negotiations with the European Union. Undoubtedly, the most radical and controversial ‘project’ undertaken within the bureaucratic ruling tradition was secularism. It is to a discussion of secularism, its foundations, and linkages to society and democracy that we now turn.

HISTORICAL FOUNDATIONS OF THE SECULAR STATE It was the Western or European ‘threat’ that started the induced development process, as was discussed earlier. It was again Europe that inspired, first the Ottoman Empire, later the Turkish Republic, to secularise the state. Europe’s relationship with the Ottoman Empire, with present-day Turkey at its centre, was marked by long intervals of hostility and warfare. However, the relationship was equally marked by periods of mutual cooperation and reciprocal influence. In many ways, the present Republic of Turkey serves as testament to this European influence, to which it has explicitly opened itself since the foundation of the modern state. Protecting the state from religious interference



is pursued almost as rigorously in Turkey as it is in France, which reconfirmed its role as undisputed European champion of laicité in the beginning of 2004 by banning ‘ostentatious religious symbols’ in public education. The French model of laicism, that completely insulates the institutions of the state from religious influence, served, to some extent, as a blueprint for Turkey, and this has often translated itself into similar standpoints, such as banning headscarves in government buildings and at public functions (WRR 2004: 46).

The so-called Kemalist state ideology of Turkey is based on the philosophies developed by Mustafa Kemal (later Atatürk), the first president of the Republic of Turkey (1923–38). His ambition was to modernise the nation and, thereby, launch Turkey into mainstream Western culture. The WRR report maintains that Atatürk: . . . was not anti-Islam, but he viewed ‘true Islam’ as a rational and natural religion. Individual believers needed no mediation between man and God. Following this logic, Atatürk, viewed religious institutes such as the caliphate [administration of the Muslim community] and the ulema [religious scholars] as obstacles to this end; he abolished the former and placed the latter under state control. Movements operating outside the state’s control, such as the popular mystic Sufi orders, were prohibited. Family law, the only area of law at the time still based on the shari’a, was abolished and reformed along the lines of the Swiss civil code. Constitutionally, Turkey became a secular state and Atatürk gave it a central role in the country’s modernisation. The modernisation mission, which was resisted by parts of the population, also assumed the nature of cultural offensive. This involved the banning of Islamic symbols, including the traditional head dress of women and men, from public life, and the closure of training centers for clergy and of the theological faculty (ibid.: 46–47).

In their study, Zürcher and Van der Linden (2004) point out that this secularisation did not begin in the 1920s with Atatürk. Rather, these reforms formed the conclusion of almost a century of secularisation of state institutions. Nor can the pre-reform situation be characterised as a theocracy, though that remained the ideal among Islamic legal scholars of the time. While still officially considered Islamic, in practice, the Ottoman Empire state had, of old, a secular administration. Moreover, the Islamic legal system itself had only a limited scope and was mainly concerned with family law and contract law. The administration of the vast Ottoman Empire obviously required a far wider scope of legislation than this. The ulama’s only task was to check that these other rules conformed to religious law. Their main



function, therefore, was to provide a religious legitimisation for policy. Islam was, thus, a cultural and political bridge between the state elite and the mass of the population. This double-sided nature of the Ottoman Empire, the decision-making autonomy of the sovereign and its religious legitimisation, sparked a modernisation movement already in the 19th century (ibid.: 97). Heper also stresses that: From the Ottoman times to the present, Turkey increasingly evinced a secular face. As early as the fifteenth century, the Ottomans came up with secular codes. These codes drawn up during the reigns of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror and Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent were not informed by the Sharia. In fact the cognomen of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent was Kanuni, which meant Law-maker. Then in the nineteenth century, the Ottomans came to the conclusion that Islam was incompatible with changing circ*mstances. While in some other Islamic lands, efforts were made to render Islam compatible with the changing circ*mstances, Ottomans made the rather critical decision that they should secularize their government. Thus, during the nineteenth century, rather than trying to reform their Islamic institutions, they introduced secular institutions alongside the Islamic ones [thus creating institutional dualism]. When they founded their Republic in 1923, Turks took another momentous step; they now opted for total Westernization. They decided to replace the Ottoman Islamic community with the Republican secular nation (1985: 23).

The revolution of 1908 by the Young Turks witnessed the restoration of the constitution and parliament and the end of the sultanate. It, too, aimed at enhanced state power, centralisation and standardisation, using the Islamic identity as a social cement for the population. This emphasis on Islam in the nationalistic ideology was further reinforced by the Balkan war in which the Ottoman Empire was attacked by four Christian Balkan states. The Young Turks propagated a modern Islam with an open attitude towards science; an Islam purged of the superstition of the Sufi sheikhs and the conservatism of the ulama. Numerous measures were introduced to reduce the role of religious institutions in education, law and hospitals, and to replace these by increasing state control. Atatürk and his supporters belonged to the radical wing of the Young Turks. The Kemalist movement they developed built on an advanced the programme of the Young Turks, and the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923 gave them the opportunity to put these ideas into practice (WRR 2004: 48). Until the Second World War, measures gradually promoting secularisation and efforts at state and nation-building were all imposed



from above, attesting to induced development. They proved particularly popular among the urban population. However, the new power centres could not afford to ignore Islam. After all, Islam was embedded in the beliefs and vocabulary of an increasingly Muslim population (the consequence of territorial losses and population swaps after the Balkan wars). Even so, it was always the needs of the state that controlled the institutional framework and determined the political role that Islam could or should play.

INTERACTION BETWEEN THE SECULAR STATE AND POLITICAL ISLAM After the Second World War, the Kemalist top-down model of cultural and political modernisation, in which Islam was marginalised as a reactionary bulwark, made way for a model that allowed more scope for bottom-up influence. Partly through fear of the communist Soviet Union and partly under American influence, in 1946, Turkey turned to the democratic path and introduced multi-party democracy. The many rural voters barely touched by Kemalist modernisation now became a relevant factor; so, too, did the opponents of Atatürk’s authoritarian de-Islamisation in political and public life (ErdoÉgan 1999). Initially, this brought to power a non-religious political entity, the Democratic Party, who were more tolerant towards Islam, and the government took steps to reintroduce Islamic education at schools, establish courses for preachers, allow the call to prayer to be made in Arabic. These changes were viewed with great suspicion by the Kemalists and by the army, which after 1960 began increasingly to see itself as the guardian of Atatürk’s legacy (YeÛsilkaÉgIt 1997). However, neither the non-religious Democratic Party nor its successor, the equally non-religious Justice Party, questioned the secular nature of the state control. Zürcher and Van der Linden (2004: 105) suggest that the postwar period has seen two opposing interpretations of secularism: the Kemalist version, which saw secularism as a safeguard for freedom of thought against Islam, and a more neutral secularism that wanted to protect the state from religious influence, but expected the state to respect freedom of religion. In the words of Süleyman Demirel of the Justice Party: the state should be secular, but this does not mean that the individual should be as well.



Since the 1960s, a political movement has been emerging that is explicitly based on Islamic principles. This new phenomenon was not so much a reflection of greater piety as a result of socio-economic developments (ibid. 2004). It is hardly a surprise that this movement appeared on the political stage as soon as the democratic system gave it the opportunity to do so (also see ErdoÉgan 1999). The movement, in which Necmettin Erbakan (briefly prime minister between 1996 and 1997) played a central role, articulated the ideals of small entrepreneurs and traditionally-minded citizens who, unlike the workers and industrialists, considered themselves unrepresented in the existing political spectrum. The Islamic elements of its political programme (the National Vision, or Milli GörüÛs ) concentrated on strengthening ethics and morals in education and upbringing, fighting usury and corruption, abolishing articles in the constitution and criminal law that penalised the political use of religion, and freeing religion from state control. The Kemalist principle of equal rights for men and women— such as voting rights for women, dating from 1934, and equal rights regarding education and employment—was left untouched. State secularism was accepted as the point of departure; freedom of conscience and expression were seen as the basis for democracy and human rights (Heper 2003; KalaycIoÉglu 2005). Like the other religiously-inspired parties, Erbakan’s party was banned during the 1980 military coup. The establishment still harboured the notion that this more ‘populist’ Islam represented an anti-modernist and anti-secular force. The military junta, after assuming power in September 1980, launched an ideological offensive to immunise the entire population against radical Islamic movements (those not controlled by the state) and to immunise the youth against socialism. The major tool in this offensive was Turkish nationalism; Islam was as only one component of the Turkish identity, though an important one. The junta had picked up some of its ideas from another movement, the Turkish–Islamic Synthesis, which was established in response to the leftist climate of the 1960s. In the period before 1995, this movement became very influential. Its supporters came from various conservative parties, particularly from the Nationalist Action Party, which had a strong appeal among the impoverished youth of the ghettos and which had also been banned in 1980. The ideological offensive stressed Turkish identity, unity and harmony, and military and authoritarian values. It presented Islam as an ‘enlightened’ religion, open towards science and technology (WRR 2004: 51). The



Directorate of Religious Affairs, the Diyanet, was entrusted with protecting and propagating this state-Islam as central to Turkish national identity. Not surprisingly, following the coup, many adherents of the Turkish–Islamic Synthesis landed in important positions, especially in the educational and cultural sectors. The Welfare Party, relaunched by Erbakan as an Islamic party in 1983, broke through in the elections of 1994 and 1995. Ironically, the Islamic politics of the junta itself probably prepared the path for its success. The party’s supporters were found mainly among the local shopkeepers and traders, the affluent Anatolian entrepreneurial class of the provincial towns (whose numbers had grown rapidly as a result of economic liberalisation) and the migrants that moved to the big cities in ever-increasing numbers in the 1980s and 1990s. Because of the state’s inability to offer these migrants essential services, they had to rely on private networks, particularly the mystic brotherhoods active in the cities, which were officially banned. A new ‘post-modern’ military coup (in the sense that the military only issued an ultimatum) resulted in Erbakan’s fall in 1997 and the outlawing of his party. The party resurfaced as the Virtue Party, but had little success and fared badly in the 1999 elections before being banned in 2001. It almost immediately bounced back as the Felicity Party, with an extremely religious programme, a strong emphasis on conservative values and standards, and Islamic education. It was soon split, however, because the younger members wanted far less emphasis on religion and because a separate party might increase their chances of being accepted as a governing party by the military and other sectors of the state apparatus. It might also increase their acceptability to voters, since various elections had shown a majority against a strongly religious programme. The new Justice and Development Party (AK Party) established in 2001 presented itself as a broad conservative party, with respect for Islamic values and standards but without an explicitly religious programme. The party won by such a large majority in 2002 that, for the first time since the Second World War, a single-party government was formed. The government was accepted by the military, although its work is still viewed with apprehension. One noticeable aspect of the history of Turkish political parties according to the WRR report is that even the Islamic political formations that shared the Turkish political landscape in recent decades favoured the principle of separation of state and religion, though they did advocate, and in the case of current AK government, allow more



freedom of religion than the Kemalists would countenance. The confrontations between the state apparatus, including the army on the one hand and Islamic parties on the other, revolve around the two different interpretations of secularism mentioned earlier: one where the state has a dominance over religion and the other where both are autonomous domains on an equal footing. The separation of the state and religion is a broadly accepted facet of political life in Turkey, and its roots run deep. It is true that there are Islamic movements in Turkey and other countries (Germany) that want to establish a theocracy, but their support base is minuscule (WRR 2004: 52).

DEMOCRACY AND POLITICAL ISLAM Foreign observers of Turkish politics are often concerned about the relationship of Islam to democracy in general. Turkey’s post-war political history has been a turbulent one. The interventions of 1960, 1971, 1980 and 1997 were all targeted at the manifestations of political Islam at the time. Political Islam has clearly been an explosive factor in Turkish politics. But were these Islamic parties a danger to democracy? Did they want to overthrow democracy, or were they, on the contrary, manifestations of democracy? Although harbouring various anti-secularist elements within their ranks, none of the successive Islamic political parties has ever wanted to openly attack the secular character of the state. However, they have advocated a different type of secularism than that contained in Kemalist state ideology. Kemalist politicians on the other hand considered the very existence of religion as an attack on the foundations of the Turkish Republic. Islamic political parties, by contrast, viewed democracy as based on freedom of conscience, expression, religion and religious practice. None of them has ever contested the value of democracy in their programmes, and they have always worked within the rules of the democratic constitutional state to exert their influence. For example, Erbakan did not fight the banishment of his Welfare Party in 1998 on the streets in the name of Allah, but in the European Court of Human Rights (see Zürcher and Van der Linden 2004). He also accepted its decision that the ban was lawful. This suggests that the problem of Turkey is not the anti-democratic or anti-human rights nature of political Islam, but, rather, the state’s fear of the consequences of democracy (Yavuz 2003).



From the moment of political Islam’s emergence in the 1960s, it has polarized the political debate in Turkey. Given the Turkish state’s history of denying and suppressing Islam as a political force, this is not surprising. The Islamic–political breakthrough, both locally and nationally, during the 1980s and 1990s, kept the temperature high on the issue, as did international developments in the form of the rise of Muslim fundamentalism and terrorism. The political manifestation of Islam, through its various mutations in Erbakan’s party, expressed the wishes of groups that did not identify with the Kemalist project. This drew new demographic groups into the public arena and into politics. This manifestation was also an outcome of major socio-economic changes that were taking place in Turkish society, including the emergence of a new middle class, stimulated by economic liberalization, and large-scale migration to big cities. Since the Islamic parties were based largely on regional and local organizations and networks, they in fact helped create a political sector that was far more representative of society as a whole (ibid.: 227–31).

Despite many disagreements with the establishment, some recent, Islam as a politically relevant factor has gradually become accepted in Turkish politics. This suggests that extending the ‘normal’ political channels and broadening the political arena may have had a pacifying influence on the debate. It does not change the fact that there is a large (mostly urban and better educated) segment of the population extremely nervous about the recent successes of political Islam, believing that there is a hidden agenda, against the Kemalist revolution. Islamic parties initially stressed religion and focused on the Middle East and Central Asia. In this, they were reacting against the secularist basis and European inspiration of the Kemalist movement. Yet, according to Yavuz (ibid.), there was a remarkable reversal in the following decade in attitudes towards Europe and the EU. Whilst part of the state establishment began to see the EU as a threat to Kemalist nationalism, supporters of political Islam began to appreciate a difference between Kemalism and the EU: They now overwhelmingly support EU membership, convinced that the Union offers a form of secularism that sees freedom of religion as a fundamental human right, and one to be protected. The plea of European institutions for democratization and respect for human rights in Turkey has played an important part in this transformation (ibid.: 254–61).

This reversal in perspective, however, does not mean that the prospect of EU membership will actually simultaneously strengthen the hands



of anti-modernist forces. There are several reasons for this, Zürcher and Van der Linden claim: Firstly, both the Kemalists and political Islamists in Turkey have been greatly influenced by modern European ideas and practices (Yavuz 2003: 265– 74). Secondly, Turkey has never been a colony. Unlike Islam elsewhere in the Muslim world, Islam in Turkey never became an ideological vehicle for nationalist resistance to a Western oppressor. The Western influences present in Turkey are the result of the country’s own choices and not of coercion by foreign powers. Whilst many changes have been imposed from above by its own elite, they remain indigenous products. The West is portrayed as an enemy to Islam to a far lesser degree than in other Muslim countries. If there was indeed a Western enemy, it was Russia and later Soviet Union. This resulted in Turkey’s membership of the NATO, which constituted the joint Turkish–European–Atlantic military framework for the fight against communism. Communism was also political Islam’s greatest enemy. Thirdly, it also missed out on large-scale socio-economic deprivation and frustration that formed a breeding-ground for extremism elsewhere in the Muslim world. Fourthly, unlike some other Muslim countries, any existing dissatisfaction could always manifest itself through politics, government parties and could always be voted out of office. This is also why political Islam in Turkey lacks the extremist characteristics that can be found elsewhere. There have been fifteen national elections since World War II, of which twelve were free and fair (2004: 155).

Turkey’s climate of moderation is also attributable in part to the rapidly growing urban middle class, who share religious beliefs (and also demand that they be recognised by Kemalists), but are also children of 80 years of secularism and Kemalism. Despite being formally banned, the Sufi movements and their intellectuals have had an important influence on Turkish Muslims and have contributed to the fact that pluralism and moderation are important features of Turkish Islam. Finally, Turkish Islam’s traditional orientation towards the state allowed it to develop a pragmatic and flexible character (WRR 2004: 56–57). This does not, however, mean that Turkish society and polity is free of sporadic clashes and conflicts. The headscarf issue has been a persistent one. The gradual recognition of Islam as a socially and politically relevant factor was accompanied by an awareness among well-educated young people that Islam is part of their identity. ‘These people certainly do not wear headscarves as a display of traditionalism or an expression of fundamentalism. They seek recognition of



their Muslim identity through this symbol, in particular in the public domain, which had been so long, and as explicitly, ideologically closed to them’ (Göle 1996: 45). Zürcher and Van der Linden (2004) suggest that this recognition is founded not in theology, but in an appeal to human rights (in this case, the individual right to show one’s religious conviction). Basically, the breakthrough of political Islam has ended the distinction, cherished in the Kemalist discourse, between ‘modern Kemalists’ and ‘backward Muslims’ (Yavuz 2003). The fact that the current Islamic-inspired government recently proposed a bill against discrimination of hom*osexuals and got it through Parliament (Economist 2004; WRR 2004: 57), does not fit with the usual image of Muslims held in the West. In short, the state has lost its ideological monopoly on modernity. If the state apparatus, including the military, gains more respect for democracy and recognises the autonomy of civil society, the differences that existed for so long between state and society may eventually disappear. This would signal the demise of the bureaucratic ruling tradition for sure. Zürcher and Van der Linden (2004: 104) rightly stress that one should avoid the impression that religion is the single most important issue in Turkey in a discussion on Turkish democracy. It is not true that the increasing role of political Islam and its electoral success are determined solely by religion. Turkish voters do show some religious preferences, but they, too, would vote out religious parties from government that would fail to meet their expectations on, for instance, economic performance or the fight against crime or terrorism. Moreover, the Turkish electorate seems to prefer moderate parties, moderate in an Islamic sense as well (ÇarkoÃglu and Toprak 2000). When, for example, in the 2002 elections, it had a choice between the more outspoken Felicity Party and the moderate AK Party, the latter won by an overwhelming majority, even in the constituency of Erbakan, the leader of the Felicity Party. Surveys show that the Turkish population characterises itself as being largely religious, but certainly not religiously zealous; as being tolerant and not at all fundamentalist. The majority is opposed to religion playing a role in political life, supports the secular character of the Republic, and also thinks that the state should stay out of religion. They see religion as private, and strongly dislike the exploitation of religious differences (ÇarkoÃglu and Toprak 2000). The data presented in the paragraphs that follow are based on the aforementioned research report by Turkish Economic, Social Studies



Foundation (TESEV), entitled ‘Turkiye’de din, toplum ve siyaset’ (Religion, Society and Politics in Turkey) (ibid.). This investigation into the religious attitudes of the Turkish population indicates that the existence of a breeding ground for fundamentalism in Turkey is unlikely. Approximately one-third (35.2 per cent) of Turks identify themselves first and foremost as Muslims. This figure differs widely between urban and rural people, and between people with higher and lower education levels. Those with little education in rural areas and smaller provincial towns most frequently see themselves first and foremost as Muslims. Among people with higher education, only 10 per cent support this opinion. Fifty-three per cent of the population identify themselves first and foremost as citizens of Turkey, or as ‘Turks’. Examining how Turks experience their faith reveals that less than half of all men perform the compulsory five-times-a-day prayers, while about two-thirds participate in the Friday prayer, or at least say they do. This does not suggest great zeal. Furthermore, Turks seem to apply a flexible definition of the concept of ‘Muslim’. Eighty-five per cent believe that someone who does not pray can still be classified as a Muslim. And 66 per cent do not view the consumption of alcohol (according to strict Islamic law an offence punishable by flogging) as a disqualification from being a Muslim, while 85 per cent say that a woman who does not wear a headscarf can still be considered a Muslim. Thus, presentation and behaviour are not the most important criteria by which Turkish Muslims judge their fellow faithful (cited in WRR 2004: 58). Another criterion is whether people consider it problematic if Muslims and non-Muslims have to share the same personal or professional living environment. Roughly half of the Turkish people indicate that they prefer an environment in which people live according to the rules of Islam. When house-hunting, 54 per cent consider it important that their neighbours are religious, while 37 per cent do not. When there is a choice of two neighbourhood supermarkets, 49 per cent prefer the shop with a religious persuasion, while 39 per cent have no preference for either. As far as friends are concerned, 61 per cent feel it is important that they are religious, while 31 per cent disagree. When it comes to professional life, 49 per cent agree that a religious person is more trustworthy and honest than a non-religious one, and 37 per cent disagree. (This could also be an important reason for preferring a ‘religious’ neighbourhood supermarket.)



The large majority of Turkish Muslims are fairly tolerant towards ‘dissident thinkers’: 89 per cent feel there are also ‘good people’ among the faithful of other religions. Sixty-three per cent of those interviewed do not want their son or daughter marrying a non-Muslim, which means for over one-third this is no insurmountable problem. A Muslim man, by the way, can happily marry a ‘woman of the Book’ under Islamic law, but it is not so simple for a Muslim woman—her husband is required to convert to Islam. It must be stressed that these questions related to non-Muslims did not distinguish between religions. It is thus quite possible that the socalled ‘people of the Book’ (Christians and Jews) are viewed more favourably by Turkish Muslims than, say, Hindus. When it comes to the crucial issue of reintroducing the holy law into family law, Turkish opinion is unanimous: don’t! A mere 10 per cent of the population favour reintroducing Islamic marriages (and with it also the right to marry four women), while 14 per cent would like to see the return of Islamic divorce by repudiation (this may also have to do with slow-functioning courts in Turkey). This data is, of course, no more than a fairly arbitrary summary of the figures, but the picture that emerges is that of a largely traditionally religious, but also relatively tolerant and not in the least fundamentalist, population. If we employ as the chief characteristic of fundamentalism the desire once again to base society on Islamic law, then we can say that a maximum of between 10 and 15 per cent of the Turkish population are susceptible to fundamentalist thinking (WRR 2004: 60). Other figures also seem to point in that direction. The large electoral success of the AK Party in the 2002 elections can be attributed to the fact that the Party emphatically distanced itself from the Islamic philosophy of Erbakan and his followers, and profiled itself as a broad, mainstream party, combining conservative standards and values with a belief in free markets, modernity and technology. Of those who voted for the AK Party, one segment had previously supported Erbakan’s party, that is, they were Islamists. However, the Nationalist Action Party and the liberal-conservative Motherland Party also lost much support to the new AK Party. It, thus, represents a broad coalition. It is important that a party with such a profile even succeeded in soundly beating the ‘real’ Muslims of Erbakan’s Felicity Party in his own home town, Konya, which is known as a devout town (Yavuz 2003: 258).



Support for truly militant groups, then, is also small. IBDA-C [a terrorist organisation responsible for sporadic bombings] almost certainly does not have more than a few hundred dedicated followers, and possibly a few thousand sympathizers. The number of Hizbullah sympathizers has been estimated at 20,000, but this seems exaggerated. In Germany, home to more than three million Turks who can follow their political and religious preferences relatively freely, the radical ‘State of the Caliphate’ has never managed to attract more than about seven thousand followers. Obviously, this does not make such organizations less dangerous. But it does indicate they do not find a breeding ground among the majority of the Turkish population. This means that the Turkish situation is fundamentally different from that in many Arab countries and in South and South-East Asia (WRR 2004: 62–63).

Heper’s evaluation is well-suited to conclude this discussion: The Republican Turkey initiated and successfully carried its project of a secular Turkey before it allowed its Islam to play a role in politics. It, therefore, became impossible for the religiously-oriented political parties to resort to the strategy of ‘one man, one vote, once’ for coming to power through free elections and then attempting to set up a state based on Islam. The Turkish electorate did not in the past and does not today vote for a political party just because it was/is a religiously-oriented party. I have just pointed out that Turkey also allowed its Islam to play a role in politics only after the consolidation of democracy in Turkey. By the consolidation of democracy I mean that everybody who is anybody comes to the conclusion that there is no political regime better than democracy. Consequently unless there was an attempt at setting up a state based on Islam, religiously-oriented political parties were allowed to participate in politics, take part in coalition governments and even come to power all by themselves as happened recently. Since Islamists too have gone through the same secularization process that others experienced, in Turkey attempts at setting up a state based on Islam remained at the level of [isolated] discourse and were not translated into action (2003: 11).

SHORTCOMINGS AND CHALLENGES OF TURKISH DEMOCRACY The aim of this chapter is not to indulge in an exhaustive discussion of Turkish democracy. I will, therefore, dwell upon only selective issues. According to KalaycIoÃglu:



The Turkish political system has democratic shortcomings due to electoral thresholds, constitutional limitations, patronage systems and corruption. The state’s continuous pressure upon politics is indeed a problem, but Turkey is still a country where voters can use the ballot box to bring to power political groups other than those governing, and where the opposition can assume power peacefully. Voting is meaningful and there are clear and viable political alternatives. Another characteristic democratic shortcoming in Turkey is open and institutionalized censorship. The censor is still active on an almost daily basis, when the authorities feel that newspapers or television stations have overstepped their mark. Much like the Council for Higher Education (YOK), the Council for the Media (RTUK) is one of the extensions with which the state curbs civilian life. Publications by human rights organizations and organizations of Kurdish persuasion, in particular, are constantly confronted with harassments. Nevertheless, Turkey has a large and richly varied media, and its journalists and editors are continuously pushing the bounds of possibility. Despite the censorship and self-censorship, it is possible to find, buy and read strongly contrasting opinions on current events from any street kiosk (2005: 87).

The economic sector also has its fair share of ambiguities. Over the last 25 years, Turkey’s economic development has often been a process of all or nothing. A very dynamic private sector, which includes tourism and textiles, for example, functions alongside failing financial policies, such as inefficient tax collection and corruption. The annual growth of gross national product has fluctuated between plus 9 per cent and minus 9 per cent (see Appendix B). Even so, all sections of Turkish society have become more prosperous during this period, and some spectacularly so. This pluriformity of politics and the media is the product of a society that has witnessed the rise of a large urban middle class whose prosperity and education levels have grown enormously over the last 25 years, albeit with ups and downs. The ideas of the state apparatus, with its heavy emphasis on sovereignty and centralisation, are falling increasingly out of step with a rapidly developing society. Nevertheless, one can easily observe the bureaucratic ruling tradition withering away almost continuously (KalaycIoÃglu 2005: 231). As far as the legitimacy of the state is concerned, it is important that Turkey never fell victim to colonial rule. Attempts in that direction were repelled by its population during the independence struggle of 1919–22. Since 1918, the country has not suffered any military defeat. As a result, the state never lost legitimacy in the eyes of its people.



Many Turks are highly critical of their country, but at the same time they identify strongly with it and are proud of its achievements. The Turkish experience with democracy has been successful at instituting periodic competitive, free and fair national and local elections for public office. A relatively large number of political parties spanning the ideological spectrum has been active in the politics of the country since the 1940s. In addition, relatively vigorous interest group politics have emerged in Turkey since the 1950s. More than 60,000 voluntary associations, about one-fourth of which have been active in recent years, have taken part in national and local affairs. Their activities range from disaster relief to providing health and educational services. However, KalaycIoÃglu (2001), reports that further development of civil society is hampered due to lack of interpersonal and inter-institutional trust. A capitalist free market economy thrived in the second half of the 20th century in Turkey as well. Hence, a relatively large number of companies and firms were established and functioned in a national market. Professional economic associations of employees and employers have been in operation throughout the same period. Their numbers have increased, while some have grown in size and established themselves as major interest groups in Turkish politics. All those structural developments occurred in a cultural environment that determined the substance and quality of democracy. Under the influence of peasant and nomadic lifestyles, which deeply influence and mould the political culture, the democratic regime as practised in Turkey puts heavy emphasis on clientelistic networks, primordial favouritism and nepotism. The convergence of such primordial factors as regional solidarity ties (hem×sehri networks), blood relations and material benefits seem to have created specific support for the democratic regime in Turkey. Ironically, the same cultural characteristics have also engendered the development of some dilemmas that undermine the smooth operation of democratic procedures, norms, rules and institutions in Turkey (KalaycIoÃglu 2001; SayarI 2004). In effect, democracy is equated with populism practised through clientelistic networks, which often requires the bending of rules and laws to distribute benefits to large segments of Turkish society. Consequently, democracy as a mechanism for providing a wide range of benefits to organized interests and blocs of voters does not only enjoy widespread mass support in the periphery, but it also functions at the expense of rule of law! As a mechanism that caters to the benefits of the



peripheral forces, democracy also functioned as a way to marginalize the former center and its value system, with which the urban middle and upper classes identify (KalaycIoÃglu 2001: 67).

However, KalaycIoÃglu maintains that: A second dilemma emerged in Turkish politics under those circ*mstances. Perceiving a threat to their values and lifestyles, the urban middle class, (especially women), began to be estranged from democracy, while the solidarity groups of the periphery benefit from democracy and support the practice of populist patronage. Hence, democracy began to be supported by the well-organized forces of the periphery, while the less organized, individualistic middle class (and especially middle-class women) became inclined to jettison democracy to protect and promote their lifestyles. The relatively powerless and poor rural and urban masses supported those parties that were able to deliver them benefits, which the right-ofcenter and eventually the fringe right wing parties managed relatively well. In the meantime, the urban middle class mobilized the powerful forces of the center, such as the military, to stem the rising tide of the peripheral values and interests. Consequently, democracy functioned under the debilitating conditions of relative lack of middle class support in Turkey (ibid.).

The role of the military deserves special mention. Despite their formal separation, military and civilian authorities have forged a partnership based on an imperfect concordance among the military, political elite and the citizenry. This ruling style is the product of Turkey’s special cultural, social and institutional context, featuring a stratified society and political culture as well as historical conflicts with neighbouring states. Such conditions significantly influence the military’s role in the nation. Atatürk’s victorious army was initially divorced from politics in the name of creating a democratic republic. But the military gradually became a stronger presence in politics, with broad public support (NarlI 2000: 119). Despite the concordance between the military and the citizenry regarding the army’s involvement in politics, tension emerged between the military and certain groups which either challenged the secular nature of the state (namely, the Islamists) or its unitary character (that is, Kurdish nationalists and separatists). During periods of crisis, each time the government was incapable of acting effectively, the military intervened to ‘right’ domestic political affairs. Since 1960, the military staged four coups in order to ‘protect national unity, democracy, and secularism’. In each takeover, most citizens accepted



the military’s political involvement because of society’s deep confidence in the army and its role as an organic part of society. Although Turkey’s civilian sector is more prominent, the military has constitutional tools at its disposal and an endorsing political culture, should it choose to play a behind-the-scenes role in the political process. When a civilian government is efficient, capable of maintaining political stability, and does not have a strong disagreement with the military, the military’s influence on decision-making is lesser. It exercises more authority in circ*mstances of political instability and when there is growing unease in the civil–military partnership. Such freedom of action for the army worries some liberals who desire the progress of democratization without military intervention, but most citizens are comfortable with the military’s role as a guardian of democracy and secularism. This concordance between the military and the citizenry is key to understanding civil–military relations in Turkey (ibid.: 120).

Finally, as democracy and populist patronage simultaneously flourished, it became increasingly difficult to put a cap on public spending, and discipline the budget process. Under those circ*mstances, the management of the macro-economy becomes an increasingly difficult task. Hence, poor management of the macro-economy undermined the practice of good governance as well. Turkey’s human development indicators demonstrate the failing standards of good governance in the country (see Appendix B). Hence, paradoxically enough, popular government and good governance seem to be inversely related in the Turkish context (KalaycIoÃglu 2001: 67). As human development indicators presented in Appendix B clearly demonstrate, another serious source of instability and challenge for democracy is regional (geographical) and income variations and imbalances. The difference in per capita income between the inhabitants of Mu×s (an eastern province) and Kocaeli (a western province) is 11-fold (State Planning Organization 2004). There is income poverty, human poverty and high unemployment (10 per cent), affecting both rural and urban areas (BuÃgra and Keyder 2003). The share of income or consumption of the richest 10 per cent to the poorest 10 per cent is more than 13-fold, and that of the richest 20 per cent to the poorest 20 per cent is 7.7 times (Appendix B). The Gini index stood at 40.0 in 2003 (Appendix B). The overall human development indicators stand well below (88th position out of 177 countries) Turkey’s position (76th) in the overall development standings (UNDP 2004). These figures point out to a serious governance and overall management gap. Furthermore, gender inequality is evident in most aspects of Turkish



polity, particularly in education and politics. Literacy among male adults is 87 per cent, where the same figure is a low 55 per cent for females. Representation of women in Parliament is a meagre 4.4 per cent and it is even worse in local government (1.3 per cent of elected officials), as a 2003 report of KADER (Society for the Promotion of Women’s Rights) states (see also Appendix A). The aforementioned governance and management gap has long been recognised as a major impediment both for efficient utilisation of national resources as well as further democratisation of polity. The last half-century witnessed at least three serious attempts to restructure and reform public administration. Each time, the process either could not be continued or ended up with very limited, piecemeal measures. Even those were ‘diluted’ by bureaucracy which vigorously tried to ‘defend’ its authority and privileged position in the polity (Göymen 2004). In 2004, the AKP government prepared a set of draft legislations for a radical overhauling of Turkish public administration. The drafts pertaining to municipalities and metropolitan centres have since been promulgated and put into affect. But the process has been slow, rough and controversial. Beris, and Dicle (2004) report that the draft laws triggered a serious debate on the implementation of such a reform programme, especially regarding the new status of local authorities and the diminishing powers of the central government. Proponents of reform argue that the new system would encourage a more transparent, participatory and human rights-based public management structure. On the other hand, the opponents (especially the opposition Republican People’s Party, trade unions and civil servants’ confederation)—while acknowledging the need for a public management reform—stress the likely negative impacts of the proposed arrangements, particularly on the unitary nature of the Turkish state. Opponents also claim that the AKP is eroding the social responsibilities of the state and ‘privatising’ basic services, undermining the poor. Indeed, the draft laws contain provisions that restrict the public sector’s role in the production of local goods and services, and, rather, emphasise its regulatory functions. They also allow local government bodies to develop stakeholder relations with the private sector and non-governmental organisations (that is, subcontracting some of the service delivery to them). These factors are deemed as weakening the social responsibilities of the state (Confederation of Public Employees 2004).



Some of the opponents target personalities rather than the content of the reform proposals. These critiques demonstrate a lack of confidence in the undersecretary of Prime Ministry, Omer Dincer, the mastermind of the draft laws. He is alleged to be pushing for a more decentralised state structure through these reforms in order to prepare a fertile ground for the Islamic agenda. His speech in a symposium in 1995, which allegedly contains arguments against some of the fundamental principles of the Turkish state (that is, republicanism and secularism), is cited as the evidence of the existence of such a hidden agenda (Beri×s and Dicle 2004). Thus, a seemingly technical issue has been transformed into a new ‘battleground’ between the forces of secularism and political Islam, attesting to the fragility of relations. Last but not the least, undoubtedly the most important contemporary challenge for Turkish democracy has been/is its candidacy for the European Union. This relationship entails the most comprehensive overhauling of all institutions to harmonise with EU legislation. This is done through the preparation of ‘road maps’ on the part of the EU Commission and ‘national programmes’ on the part of the Turkish government, stating what intends to be done, how and within what time perspective. To crown it all, Turkish democracy has been put to test and has been asked to comply with the Copenhagen Criteria (EU standards in democracy and human rights) for eligibility to start accession negotiations. Based on a favourable report of the Commission, the EU, on 17 December 2004, decided to start accession negotiations with Turkey in 2005, and initiated them on 3 October 2005. In order to reach this status, Turkey prepared and submitted to Parliament eight packages of constitutional changes and numerous legislations. No aspect of polity was left untouched or unaffected. The constitutional/legal changes were accomplished relatively easily, due to favourable public opinion (around 70 per cent supporting Turkey’s bid), and a comfortable majority of AKP in Parliament (around twothird majority). But the major challenge lies in implementation, and there is already mounting criticism, both within Turkey and in Europe, that progress is slow. Changing aspects of political culture will require more time and effort. Also, it is difficult to suggest that there is widespread understanding and appreciation of the EU and what it entails among the masses. There is bound to be increasing reaction to EU policies and directives by segments of the population that stand to lose in one way or another. This may put considerable pressure on democratic institutions and processes in Turkey. However, there is no



doubt that due to a combination of internal factors (Turkey’s historical desire to be a part of Europe and to attain similar standards in democracy) and external inducement (the Copenhagen Criteria and need to harmonise with European law), Turkey faces its most crucial challenge and opportunity at the same time. If the process follows its natural course, it may eventually lead to a demise of the bureaucratic ruling tradition and pave the way for ‘organic’ development in Turkish society and polity. There is yet another expectation in Turkey’s relations with the West in general and the EU in particular. According to some, if Turkey was to lose its status of a ‘torn’ country (to use Huntington’s words), that would be a truly hopeful message to the Islamic world that the ‘clash of civilisations is not reality, but fantasy, and that Islam is compatible with democracy’ (WRR 2004: 74). However, in my opinion, this does not mean that the ‘Turkish model’ is exportable to other Islamic countries. At best, it can serve as a case to derive selective conclusions of what not to do as well as, maybe, what to do.

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Göymen, Korel. 1976. ‘Stages of Etatist Development in Turkey’. METU Studies in Development, 3(10): 89–115. —————. 1999. ‘Novel Participatory Mechanisms in Turkish Municipal System’. Local Governance, 25(1): 53–65. —————. 2004. ‘Local Government Reform in Turkey’. Paper presented at IASIA Conference, Seoul, South Korea. Heper, Metin. 1985. The State Tradition in Turkey. Walkington, UK: Eothen Press. —————. 2003. ‘The Justice and Development Party’. Presentation at the Moshe Dayan Center, Tel Aviv, Israel. Hershlag, Z.Y. 1964. Introduction to the Modern History of the Middle East. Leiden: E.J. Brill. —————. 1968. Turkey: The Challenge of Growth. Leiden: E.J. Brill. InalcIk, Halil. 1970. ‘The Ottoman Economic Mind and Aspects of Ottoman Economy’, in M.A. Cook (ed.), Studies in the Economic History of the Middle East. London: Macmillian. Issawi, C.H. 1966. The Economic History of the Middle East. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. KADER (Society for the Promotion of Women’s Rights 2003. Gender Equality in Turkey. Ankara: KADER. KalaycIoÃglu, Ersin. 2001. ‘Turkish Democracy: Patronage versus Governance’. Turkish Studies, 2(1): 54–70. —————. 2005. Chapter on Turkey, in Mark Kesselman, Joel Krieger and W.A. Joseph (eds.), Introduction to Comparative Politics. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Kuran, Ercüment. 1966. The Impact of Nationalism on the Turkish Elite in the Nineteenth Century. Ankara: Bilgr Kitaperi. Nazli, Nilüfer. 2000. ‘Civil–Military Relations in Turkey’. Turkish Studies, 1(1): 107– 27. Sayar×I , Sabri. 2004. State, Society and Democracy in Turkey. Istanbul: Bahçe×sehir University Publications. Sarç, Ö.Ç. 1940. ‘Economic Policy of New Turkey’. Middle East Journal, 2( ): 43–57. Sugar, Peter. 1964. ‘Economic and Political Modernization in Turkey’, in Robert E. Ward and Dankwart A. Rustow (eds.), Political Modernization in Japan and Turkey. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. State Planning Organization. 2004. Classification of Provinces According to Levels of Development. Ankara: Devlet Planlama Teskilati. United Nations Development Programme. 2004. Human Development Report: Turkey. New York: UN. Vucinich, Wayne. 1965. The Ottoman Empire: Its Record and Legacy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. WRR (Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy). 2004. The European Union, Turkey and Islam. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. Yavuz, M.H. 2003. Islamic Political Identity in Turkey. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ye×silkaÃgIt, K. 1997. ‘Islamic Fundamentalism and the Role of the Turkish Military between 1980 and 1997’. Jason, 5(22): 8–13. Zürcher, Erik-Jan and Heleen Van der Linden. 2004. Searching for the Fault Line: A Survey of the Role of Turkish Islam. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.



APPENDIX A TURKEY at a Glance Land and People Capital Total area (square miles) Population Annual population growth rate (%) (census results)

Urban population (%) Ethnic composition (%) (by mother tongue, unofficial estimate)

Major languages (%) (unofficial estimate)

Religious affiliation (%)

Ankara 30,443 (slightly larger than Texas) 71,7 million (2004)

Turkish Kurdish (Kýrmanch) Zaza Arab Caucasian (Cherkes, Georgians, etc.) Bosniak, Greek and other Balkan Other Turkish (official) Kirmanch Arabic Zaza Armenian Bosniak, Greek and other Balkan Muslim (mostly Sunni) Christian, Jews

2.1(1980) 2.5(1985) 2.2(1990) 1.8(2000) 1.2(2003) 65.8(2002) 89 9 0.4 0.5 0.2 0.3 0.6 89 9 0.5 0.4 0.07 0.3 99.8 0.2

Economy Domestic currency Total GDP(US$) GDP per capita (US$) Total GDP at purchasing power parity (US$) GDP per capita at purchasing power parity (US$) GDP annual growth rate (%)

New Turkish lira (YTL) 300 billion 4,172 540 billion

(2004) (2004) (2004)



1990 1994 1998

9.4 –6.1 3.4 (Appendix A contd.)



(Appendix A contd.)

GDP per capita average annual growth rate (%) Inequality in income or consumption (%) (percentage access to GDP)

Structure of production (% of GDP) Labour force distribution (% of total)

1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 1975–2002 1990–2002 2003–4 Poorest 10%(2000) Poorest 20% (2000) Richest 20% (2000) Richest 10% (2000) Gini index (2002) Agriculture Industry Services Agriculture Industry Services

–6.1 6.4 –9.5 7.8 5.9 9.9 1.8 1.3 7.8 2 6 47 32 44.0 13.9 28.9 57.2 35.6 24.4 40.0

Society (2003 figures) Life expectancy at birth Infant mortality (per 1,000 live births) Adult literacy (%) Access to information and communications (per 1,000 people)

70 35

Telephones Mobile phones Radios Televisions Personal computers

85 281 347 470 423 45

Women in Government and the Economy (2004) Women in the national legislature (%) Women at ministerial level (%) Female economic activity rate (age 12 and above) (%) Female labour force (%) Estimated earned income (PPP US$) 2004 Human Development Index ranking (out of 177 countries)

4.4 4.5 35.6

Female Male

38 4,379 9,516 88 (Appendix A contd.)



(Appendix A contd.) Political Organisation Political System Republican parliamentary democracy and a strong president elected by the National Assembly Regime History Current constitution promulgated in 1982 and has been in effect ever since, yet thoroughly amended nine times until 2005. Administration Structure Unitary state with 81 provinces, 16 metropolitan centres, 3,199 city and small town municipalities, and 37,366 villages. Executive Prime minister appointed by the president from the National Assembly as the leader of the party with the most seats. Rules with a cabinet of no fewer than 20 ministries. Legislature Except for the 1961–80 era, has always been unicameral, called the National Assembly. Lower house currently has 550 seats, though immediately after the promulgation of the 1982 constitution, it only possessed 400; in 1961–80, it had 450 seats. Deputies of the National Assembly are elected for five-year terms, though no assembly since 1983 has ever completed its full term. Early elections common. Deputies elected from multi-member districts and party list ballots according to d’Hondt’s largest average formula of proportional representation, with 10% national threshold. Judiciary Constitutional court has 15 judges, 11 of whom serve on the bench with four substitutes. Their candidates are determined by the high courts and the Higher Educational Council of universities and are appointed by the president of the country. Party System Current drifting toward two-party or predominant party system, though, since 1983, intra-parliamentary effective parties varied between two and five. Extra-parliamentary party system includes five to seven relevant parties, which influence election results. Fragmented, volatile and polarised voting blocs produced a moderate pluralist party system between 1983 and 2002.* Major parties (2002): Justice and Development Party, Republican People’s Party, True Party, Nationalist Action Party, Democratic People’s Party, Youth Party and Felicity Party. Source: Basic format taken from KalaycIoÃglu (2005) and updated.



APPENDIX B Overview of Turkey’s Human Development Indicators and Trends (UNDP 2004) Human Development Index Indicator




Life expectancy at birth (years) Adult literacy rate (%) (15 years and above) Combined primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrolment ratio (%) GDP per capita (PSS US$) Life expectancy index Education index GDP index Human Development Index (HDI) value GDP per capita (PPP US$) rank minus HDI rank

70.1 85.5 60

69.8 85.1 62

66.5 80.5 61

5,890 0.75 0.77 0.68 0.734 –16

6,974 0.75 0.77 0.71 0.742 –18

5,230 0.69 0.74 0.94 0.792 –1

Human Development Index Trends for Turkey Indicator

HDI values















Human and Income Poverty Indicator

Human Poverty Index (HPI-1) Probability at birth of not surviving to age 40 Adult Illiteracy rate (%) (15 years and above) Population without sustainable access to an improved water sources (%) Children under weight for age (%) (under 5 years) Population below income poverty line

Rank Value (%) (% of cohort)

US$ 1 a day (%) US$ 2 a day (%)

HPI-1 rank minus income poverty rank



22 12.4 8.0 14.5 18.0

18 12.7 9.6 14.9 17.0

8.0 8.0 < 2.0 2.4 10.3 18.0 – 5

Demographic Trends Indicator



Total population (million) Annual population growth rate (%) Urban population (as % of total) Population under 15 (as % of total) Population aged 65 and above (as % of total) Total fertility rate (per woman)

69.3 1.2 66.2 31.2 5.6 2.4

66.7 1.1 65.8 30.0 5.8 2.7 (Appendix B contd.)



(Appendix B contd.) Commitment to Health: Access, Services and Resources Indicator

Population with access to improved sanitation (%) Population with sustainable access to an improved water source (%) Population with sustainable access to affordable essential drugs (%) One-year-olds fully immunised (%) Against tuberculosis Against measles Oral rehydration therapy use rate (%) Contraceptive prevalence rate (%) Births attended by skilled health personnel (%) Physicians (per 100,000 people) Health expenditure Public (% of GDP) Private (% of GDP)



90.0 82.0

91.0 83.0



89.0 90.0 15.0 64.0 81.0 127 3.6 1.4

89.0 90.0 15.0 64.0 81.0 121 3.3 1.4




Undernourished people (as % of total population) Children underweight for age (as % under 5) Children under height for age (as % under 5) Infants with low birth weight (%) People living with HIV/AIDS (adults) (%) Malaria cases (per 100,000 people) Tuberculosis cases (per 100,000 people) Cigarette consumption per adult (annual average 1992–2000)

– 8.0 16.0 15.0 <0.1 17 25

– 8.0 16.0 15.0 <0.1 17 34






Life expectancy at birth years (*) 2000–5 1995–2000 Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) Under-5 mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) Probability at birth of surviving to age 65 Female (*) Male (*) Maternal mortality ratio reported (per 100,000 live births)


Leading Global Health Crises and Challenges

Survival: Progress and Setbacks

36 43 81.0 71.0 130

69.0 38 45 78.6 68.7 130

(Appendix B contd.)



(Appendix B contd.) Commitment to Education Indicator

Public expenditure on education As % of GDP As % of total govt. expenditure Public expenditure on education by level Pre-primary and primary Secondary Tertiary



6.8 16.2

2.2 14.7

– – –

43.3 22.0 34.7

Literacy and Enrolment Indicator



Adult literacy rate (%) (15 years and above) Youth literacy rate (%) 15–24) Net primary enrolment ratio (%) Net secondary enrolment ratio(%) Children reaching grade 5 (%) Tertiary students in science, maths and engineering (as % of all tertiary students 1994–97 )

85.5 96.7 – – –

85.1 96.5 100.0* – –






Telephone mainlines (per thousand) Cellular subscribers (per thousand) Internet users (per thousand) Patents granted to resident (per million people) Receipts of royalties and licence fees (US$ per person) Research and development expenditures (as % of GDP) Scientist and engineers in R&D (per million people)

285 295 60.4 – 0

280 246 1.1 – –

0.6 *

0.5 *

306 *

303 *

Technology: Diffusion and Creation

(Appendix B contd.)



(Appendix B contd.) Economic Performance Indicator

GDP US$ billion PPP US$ billion GDP per capita US$ PPP US$ GDP per capita annual growth rate (%) GDP per capita (highest value in year 1998) Average annual change



147.7 390.3

199.9 455.3

2,230 5,890 1.7 * 6,495 54.4 **

– 6,974 2.1 * 7,063 54.9 **

Inequality in Income or Consumption Indicator

Share of income or consumption Poorest 10% Poorest 20% Richest 20% Richest 10% Inequality measures Richest 10% to poorest 10% Richest 20% to poorest 20% Gini index



2.3 6.1 46.7 30.7

2.3 5.8 47.7 32.3

13.3 7.7 40.0

14.2 8.2 41.5

The Structure of Trade Indicator



Imports of goods and services (as % of GDP) Exports of goods and services (as % of GDP) Primary exports (as % of merchandise exports) Manufactured exports (as % of manufactures exports) High-technology exports (as % of manufactured exports)

31.0 34.0 17.0 82.0 5.0

31.0 24.0 18.0 81.0 5.0

(Appendix B contd.)



(Appendix B contd.) Flow of Aid, Private Capital and Debt Indicator



Official development assistance (ODA) received Total (million US$) Per capita As % of GDP Net foreign direct investment inflows (as % of GDP) Other private flows (as % of GDP) Total debt service (as % of GDP) (as % of exports of goods and service)

166.9 2.4 0.1 2.2 1.6 15.2 24.6

324.9 4.9 0.2 0.5 5.2 10.6 36.1




Public expenditure on education (as % of GDP) Public expenditure on health (as % of GDP) Military expenditure (as % of GDP) Total debt service (as % of GDP)

3.5 3.6 4.9 15.2

2.2 3.3 4.9 10.6




Unemployed people (thousand) Unemployment rate (% of labour force) Average annual rate (% of labour force) Female rate as % of male rate Youth unemployment rate (% of labour force aged 15–24) Female rate as % of male rate Long-term unemployment (as % of total unemployment) Female Male

1,902 8.5 8.5 90.0 19.9 88.0

1,457 6.4 7.4 99.0 13.2 90.0

32.3 20.1

28.5 17.5




Traditional fuel consumption (as % of total energy use) Electricity consumption per capita (kilowatt-hours) GDP per unit of energy use (PPP US$ per kg of oil equivalent) Carbon dioxide emissions Per capita (metric tonnes) Share of world total (%)

3.1 1,468 5.3

3.1 1,396 5.9

3.1 0.8

3.2 0.8

Priority in Public Spending

Unemployment in OECD Countries

Energy and the Environment

(Appendix B contd.)



(Appendix B contd.) Refugees and Armaments Indicator

Internally displaced people (thousand) Refugees By country of asylum (thousand) By country of origin (thousand) Conventional arms transfers Imports (US$ millions) Exports (US$ millions) Share (%) Total armed forces (thousand) Index



– 3 47

– 3 40

721 29 0.1 515 82

442 2 – 610 97



Gender-related Development Index (GDI) Indicator

Gender-related development index (GDI) Life expectancy at birth (years) Adult literacy rate (%) (15 years and above) Combined primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrolment ratio (%) Estimated earned income (PPP US$)

Value Rank Female Male Female Male

0.726 81 72.8 67.6 77.2 93.7

0.734 71 72.4 67.3 76.5 93.5

Female Male Female Male

54.0 65.0 3,717 8,028 –3

55.0 68.0 4,379 9,516 1

HDI rank minus GDI rank Gender Empowerment Measure Indicator

Gender empowerment measure (GEM)

Rank Value

Seats in Parliament held by women (as % of total) Female legislators, senior officials and managers (as % of total) Female professional and technical workers (as % of total) Ratio of estimated female to male earned income



66 0.290 4.4 8.0 31.0 0.46

63 0.312 4.2 9.0 36.0 0.46

(Appendix B contd.)



(Appendix B contd.) Gender Inequality in Education Indicator

Adult literacy Female rate (%) Youth literacy Net primary enrolment Net secondary enrolment Gross tertiary enrolment

(15 years and above) Female rate as % of male rate Female rate (%) (15–24) Female rate as % of male rate Female ratio Ratio of females to males Female ratio Female ratio



77.2 82.0 94.4 95.0 – – – 12

76.5 82.0 94.0 95.0 96 92 – 18

Gender Inequality in Economic Activity Indicator

Female economic activity rate (15 years onwards) Employment by economic activity (%) Agriculture Industry Services Contributing family workers (%)



Rate Index As % of male

50.3 115 62.0

49.9 114 61.0

Female Male Female Male Female Male Female Male

72.0 34.0 10.0 25.0 18.0 41.0 65.0 35.0

72.0 34.0 10.0 25.0 18.0 41.0 – –

Women’s Political Participation

Year women received right

To vote To stand for election

Year first woman elected (E) or appointed (A) to Parliament Women in government at ministerial level (2003) in parliament held by women (% of total) (2003

1930 1934 1935 A 1 4.3

Status of Major International Human Rights

The 2003 Human Development Report shows Turkey has ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination or it is under accession or succession.

ABOUT THE EDITOR AND CONTRIBUTORS EDITOR Zoya Hasan is Professor, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. She is the author and editor of eleven books and has published over two dozen articles. Her recent books include Quest for Power: Oppositional Movements and Post-Congress Politics in Uttar Pradesh; Unequal Citizens: A Study of Muslim Women In India(co-authored); Party Politics in India (edited), India’s Living Constitution: Ideas, Practices and Controversies (co-edited); Transforming India: Social Dynamics of Democracy (coedited); and In a Minority: Essays on Muslim Women in India (co-edited). She has also edited the third book in our ‘Readings in Indian Government and Politics’ series, Politics and the State in India (Sage, 2000).

CONTRIBUTORS Adriana Elisabeth is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Political Studies, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Jakarta. She has also been Coordinator, the Center for Diplomacy and International Politics (CDIP) at the Ridep Institute, Jakarta. Ms Elisabeth has written extensively on issues related to Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia. Her works include,Australian Foreign Aid towards Indonesia (1998 – 2003); Australian Defence Policy, Improvement of Political Quality in Papua, Peace Agenda in Papua, Trust Building and Reconciliation in Papua, Enhancing Women Political Participation in Indonesia, and Inter-religious



Conflicts in Indonesia and the Philippines, and Their Impacts to Regional Security of Southeast Asia. Abdul Rahman Embong is Professor of Sociology of Development and Principal Research Fellow at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Professor Rahman’s works are widely published, and he has authored many journal articles and chapters in several books. He has also authored or edited more than 10 books, including State-led Modernization and the New Middle Class in Malaysia (PalgraveMacmillan, 2002), Globalisation, Culture and Inequalities: In Honour of the Late Ishak Shari (ed.; UKM Press, 2004), and The Nation-state: Processes and Debates (in Malay; UKM Press, 2006, 2nd edition). He is also the General Editor of the Malaysian and International Studies Series published by the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Press, and has been the President of the Malaysian Social Science Association since 2000. Korel Göymen is Professor of Political Science at Sabancý University, Istanbul, Turkey. He also sits on the Executive Board of Istanbul Policy Centre, a prestigious think-tank. He has served as the Deputy Mayor of Ankara Municipality, and was also Undersecretary at the Ministry of Tourism. Professor Göymen has written extensively and his works include a fair amount of books, reports and articles. His works include A Tale of Local Administration (Case of Ankara Municipality 1977–1980), Ankara 1983 (In Turkish); From Bureaucratic Ruling Tradition to New Type of Governance in Turkey, Report presented to United Nations and Formez Institute, 2004. He has also been a member of various national and international organisations. Meghna Guhathakurta is Executive Director at the Research Initiatives, Bangladesh and former Professor of International Relations at the University of Dhaka. She is Associate Editor of The Journal of Social Studies and Member of the Inaugural Editorial Board of The Journal of Peace and Democracy in South Asia. She has authored The Politics of British Aid Policy Formation: the Case of British Aid to Bangladesh, 1972-1986, Centre for Social Studies, Dhaka, December 1990. She has also Co-edited a number of works such as SAARC: Beyond State Centric Cooperation, Centre for Social Studies, Dhaka, 1992; Nari Rastro Motadorsho (Women, State and Ideology) Centre for Social Studies, Dhaka, 1990; and Nari: Protinidhitto O Rajniti (Women: Representation and Politics) , Centre for Social Studies, Dhaka, 1997.



Amena Mohsin is Professor and Chair at the Department of International Relations, Dhaka University. She has written extensively on Bangladesh in the form of articles, books and monographs. Her works include The Politics Of Nationalism: The Case Of The Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh, Dhaka: University Press Ltd. 1997; ‘Conceptualising International Security: Where Are the Women?’ in Imtiaz Ahmed (ed.) Women, Bangladesh and International Security: Methods, Discourses and Policies, University Press Ltd., Dhaka, 2004; and ‘Gender Nation and Development’ in Abul Kalam (ed.) Bangladesh in the New Millennium, University Press Ltd., and Dhaka University, 2004. Mohammad Waseem is Professor of Political Science in the Department of Social Sciences, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). He has written on ethnic, Islamic, constitutional, electoral and sectarian politics of Pakistan. His books include Politics and the State in Pakistan (1989), The 1993 Elections in Pakistan (1994), Strengthening Democracy in Pakistan [with S. J. Burki] (2002), and Democratization in Pakistan (2006). He has also edited the book Electoral Reform in Pakistan (2002). Professor Waseem was Pakistan Chair at St Antony’s College Oxford from 1995 to 1999. He has been a visiting scholar in International Programme for Advanced Studies MSH, Paris; Fulbright Fellow in New Century Scholars Programme at The Brookings Institution, Washington DC; Fellow of the Ford Foundation at Oxford; DAAD fellow at the University of Heidelberg; Fulbright Fellow at Columbia University, New York; Fellow of the Indian Historical Research Council, New Delhi; Fellow of the British Council in London; and Fellow of the American Political Science Association in Washington, DC. Prof. Waseem has also been on the editorial boards of international academic journals Ethnicities (Bristol), Contemporary South Asia (Bradford) and International Studies (New Delhi). Sadegh Zibakalam is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law and Political Science, Tehran University. He has written a number of books on contemporary Iran including, How did ‘We’ Become ‘We’: The Roots of Iran Being Backward. He is a well-known reformist thinker. While a student at Bedford University, he was involved with the Confederation of the Iranian Students Association in Europe and, as a result, was imprisoned for some time.

INDEX Abangan, 82 ‘Abdullah factor’, 154 Alliance for Restoration of Democracy, 203 Amanah Saham Nasional Berhad, 147 Ambon conflict, 95 American policy post 9/11, 178–79 American policy makers, 21 American war on terrorism, 58–59 Angkatan Darat (AD), 87 ANP, See Awami National Party Anti-Bangladesh movements, 59 Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), 157 Anti-Ershad movement, 54–55 Anti-fundamentalism in Bangladesh, 52 Arabia theory, of Islam, 79 Arab-Israel conflict, 208 ARD, See Alliance for Restoration of Democracy Asian Development Bank (ADB), 57 Asian financial and economic crisis, 147 ASNB, See Amanah Saham Nasional Berhad Assabiyah (tribalism or chauvinism), 165, 168 21 August 2004 grenade attacks, 52, 62 Awami League, 60–62, 70 Awami National Party, 201 Badan Imarah Muslim Maluku, 94 BAKSAL See Bangladesh Klishak Sramik Awami League

Balochistan National Movement, 201 Bangabhumi Andolon, 59 Bangladesh, accountability of military, 64–65; administrative and judicial reformation in, 66–67; democratic process characteristic of, 50, 52–53; democratisation of politics in, 62, 64; electoral reformation in, 65; globalization in, 55–56; liberation war of, 53–54; nationalism of, 51, 61; nature of, 47–50; non governmental sector in, 47, 58, 68, 71; parliament reformation in, 66; polarisation of politics, 60; political history of, 50–52, 54; politicisation of army, 53–55; rights and protection agendas, 67–68; secularism and communalism, 60–62; struggle for democracy, 46; terrorism and, 58–60; trajectories for democracy, 68–72; women in national politics, 63 Bangladeshi model of nationhood, 61 Bangladesh Klishak Sramik Awami League, 51 Bangladesh Nationalist Party, 49–51; alliance government failure, 52; and Awami League, 61–62 Bangladeshi model of nationhood, 61 Bangladeshi nationalism, model of, 51 Bank Negara Malaysia, 152 Barisan Nasional Alliance, 145 Behaviouralist model, 178



Bengali and Bangladeshi nationalism, 51, 61 Bengali cultural and political festivals, 50–51, 61–62 Bengali moneylenders, 58 Bengali Muslim civil society, 51–52 Bengali nationalism, 51, 54, 60–61 BIMM, See Badam Imarah Muslim Maluku BNM, See Balochistan National Movement BNP, See Bangladesh Nationalist Party British colonial capitalism, 135–36 British colonialism and ‘plural society’, 135 Chinese in Indonesia, 91 Chittagong Hill Tracts, 57–58 Christian Balkan states, 229 Christian theology, 16 Christian theories of democracy, 208–09 CHT, See Chittagong Hill Tracts Civil Service of Pakistan, 48 Conflict resolution mechanisms, 144–45 Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, 193 Constitutional Revolution of 1906 in Iran, 113 Contemporary democracy definition, 13 Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination of Women (CEDAW), 150 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), 156 Council for Higher Education (YOK), 240 Council for the Media (RTUK), 240 ‘Cultural convergence theory’, 184 Darul Islam, 81 ‘democracy assessment methodology’, 108n Democratic process in Bangladesh, militarisation and criminalisation of, 47, 53; polarisation of politics, 50–52 Demokrasi Pancasila, 85 Developing countries, globalisation in, 55–56

Dual (or parallel) legal system in Malaysia, 159 Duverger’s Law, 202 Economic policy formulation of Pakistan, 204 Electoral reformation in Bangladesh, 65 Era Reformasi, 86 Erbakan, Necmettin, 231 Erbakan’s Felicity Party, 238 Ershad, H.M., 49–55 Fadaii Organisation, 120 Federal constitution in Malaysia, 141 Felicity Party, 236 First-past-the-post (FPTP) system, 202 Formal democracy, 131 Forum Komunikasi Muslim Asli Poso, 94 Freedom House surveys, 178, 187 Freedom White Survey (2001), Indonesia, 84 French model of laicism, 228 Garos, matrilineal society, 57 Gender Empowerment Measure, 205–06 Gender parity and women improvements, 149 General Ayub’s policies of import capital, and Pakistan, 204 Globalisation, 55–56 Guardian Council in Iran (GC), 124 Gujarati-speaking migrant business community from Bombay, 192 Gus Dur administration, 91 Hill Women’s Federation, 63–64 Human Development Index, 206 Human Poverty Index (HPI) value for Pakistan, 205 Human Rights Instruments status, 207 ICMI, See Ikatan Cendikiawan Muslim Indonesia IIM, See Integrity Institute of Malaysia Ijtihad (independent reasoning), 164


Ikatan Cendikiawan Muslim Indonesia, 81 IKIM, See Institut Kefahaman Islam Malaysia Independent federation of Malaysia, 159 Indonesia after 1998, 84–91 Indonesia; democracy in, 92, 102–06; democratic process of, 77; democratisation era of, 86; historical background of Islam, 79–81; Islam and politics in, 77–79, 83–84; Islamic groups, 81–82; Islamic liberal network, 82; new order political legacy, 85–87; problem of religious freedom, 87–91; religion freedom in, 76–77; religious conflicts, 92–97; separatism and terrorism, 97–100 Indonesian national policy, 98 Institut Kefahaman Islam Malaysia, 161 Integrity Institute of Malaysia, 157 International Committee of Red Cross, 206 International IDEA project ‘State of Democracy’, 76 Iran and publications role, 126 Iran, constitutional revolution, 113–14, 115–16, 122; liberal-nationalist movement, 118; Mosadegh’s government, 118–19; political prisoners, 120; Qajar monarch, 115; social political freedom in, 126; struggle for democracy, 113–26; under Reza Shah’s rule, 114–19 Islam, administration and dual legal system, 159–63; bounds of parliamentary democracy, 163–66; compatibility with democracy, 13; elements in, 130; expansion in Indonesia, 79; hadhari, 165, 166–68; in Malaysian history, 131–33 in multi-ethnic country, 139–40; in multi religious country, 140; Muslim politics, 16; PAS’s Response, 168–70; political discourses, 163–66 ‘Islam hadhari’ (civilisational Islam), 165–66


Islamic Liberal Network in Indonesia, 82 Islamic political parties in Indonesia, 84–85 Islamic Revolution in Iran, 121–22 Islamic transnationalism, 17 Islamic Shasotantrik Oikyo Andolan, 60 Jabatan Kemajuan Islam, Malaysia, 160 Jamhoori Watan Party, 201 Jaringan Muslim Liberal (JIL), 82 Jatiyo Adibashi Forum, 64 Jatiyo Rakhhi Bahini, paramilitary organisation, 48 Justice and Development Party, and Turkey, 232 Justice Party, 230 KADER (Society for the Promotion of Women’s Rights), 244 Kadi (Muslim judge), 159 Kemalist state ideology of Turkey, 228 Key Performance Index (KPI), 157 Khas, government-owned land, 58 Laissez-faire period, 145–46 Legal Framework Order (LFO), 199 Lembaga Urusan dan Tabung Haji, 160 Majelis Ulama Indonesia, 82 Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat, 89 Majelis (parliament), 113–15, 117, 120, 122 Majlis agama (religious council in each state), 159 Malacca Sultanate, 133–34 Malay, corporate ownership, 136; feudal economy British colonialism, 134; muslim society, 132; nationalist party, 164; rulers of, 135; society and Hinduism, 133; traditional shows, 170 Malaysia, British colonialism and, 134–36; and civil society, 153–59; constitutional arrangements, 140–43; democracy and conflict resolution mechanisms, 144–45; developmentalist state, 145–49;



human rights, 153–59; gender parity and women empowerment, 149–50; importance of education, 151; integrity, 153–59; and Islam, 131–32; and GDP, 138; openness in social structure and mindset change, 151–53; policies and growth, 145–49; population of, 139; role of parliamentary, 141–44; social structure in, 140; socio-economic development, 136–39 Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), 140 Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS), 162 Malaysian Indian Congress, 140 Malaysian Mining Corporation, 147 Malino working groups, 95 May 1998 riots, in Indonesia, 86 Migration settlements, 56–58 Military and Bangladesh politics, 54–55 Military politicization in Bangladesh, 53–55 MMA, See Muttahida Majhs-i-Amal MMC, See Malaysian Mining Corporation Moro Islamic Liberation Front, 91 Mosadegh, Mohammad, 118 MPR, See Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat Mufti (head of religious officialdom), 159 Muhamad Attamimi Mag, 94 Muhammadiyah, organisation of modern Muslims in Indonesia, 79–81, 89 MUI, See Majelis Ulama Indonesia Mujahideen in Afghanistan, 212 Mukti Bahini, 53–54 Muslim ‘salariat’ of British India, 197 Muslim community and Indonesia, 75 Muslim countries and democratisation, 12 Muslim exceptionalism, 15 Muslim groups in Indonesia, 81–82 Muslim politics after 9/11, 12–13 Muslim ummah, 130

Muslim world emergence of democracy, 14 Muttahida Majlis Amal, 200, 212 Nahdathul Ulama, 79–80 Nasionalisme, Agama dan Komunis (NASAKOM), 85 National Awami party, 197 National Council of Women’s Organisations, 150 National Higher Education Fund, 148 National Integrity Plan, 156–57 National Policy for Women, 150 National Security Council, 203 Neo-revivalists Muslims in Indonesia, 81 Neo-santri, Muslim in Indonesia, 81 New Economic Policy (NEP), 145 NHEF, See National Higher Education Fund NIP, See National Integrity Plan Non-Awami Leaguers, bureaucracy, 48 North-West Frontier Province, 197 NPW, See National Policy for Women NSC, See National Security Council NU, See Nahdathul Ulama Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT), 90 NWFP, See North-West Frontier Province Operation Clean Heart, 55, 64, 70 Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), 129 Otonomi daerah, district autonomy, 89 Ottoman Empire, 220–21 Ottoman Turkish continuum, 227 Ottoman Turkish polity’s induced development process, 222 Pahari Chatra Parishad, 63 Pahlavi dynasty, 115 Pakistan Muslim League, 199 Pakistan, democracy, cultural aspects, 203–07; and Islam, 207–12; social aspects, 203–07; structural dynamics, 189–94; dimension of electoral democracy, 198–202; framework of democracy, 183–89;


role of army, 194–98; Westminster model, 177 Palestine-Israel conflict, 21 PAN, See Partai Amanat Nasional Pancasila principles, 85 Parliament reformation in Bangladesh, 66 Parliamentary democracy and Malaysia, 143 Partai Amanat Nasional, 80 Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa, 80 PCP, See Pahari Chatra Parishad People’s Mujaheedin Guerrilla Organisation, 119–20 PKB, See Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa PML, See Pakistan Muslim League Political settlements, 56–58 Pondok (traditional religious schools), 159 PPP, See Sindhi-led Pakistan People’s Party President Khatami, and Islamic regime’s constitution, 123 Presidential Order No. 9, 48 Prevention of Terrorism against Women and Children Act, 56 Priyayi, 81 Public Safety Act, 56 Punjab-based army, 196 Qajar dynasty in Iran, 113 Radical Arab nationalism, 21 Rahman, Ziaur, 49, 51, 54, 61–62 Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), 55 Realist and Neo-realist perspectives, 99 Religion and politics, 51, 54 Religious freedom in Indonesia, 77 Republic of South Maluku (RSM), 94–95 Rukunegara, formulation, 144 Salvador Allende’s government in Chile, 119 Santri, 81 ‘SARA’ suku- ethnicity, ras -race and agama- religion, 85 SAVAK, main security apparatus, 120


Snouck Hutgronje theory, 79 Sekolah Tinggi Agama Islam Negeri, 94 Semanggi tragedy, 87 Separatism and Indonesia, 98 Separatist movements and JI activities in South East Asia; global level of analysis, 101–02; individual and state level of analysis, 100, 102 Shari’a (Islamic law) implementation in Indonesia, 80, 91 Shari’a laws in Iran, 122 Shari’a-based (Islamic law) codes, 223 Shi’ite ulema of Najaf in Iraq, 114 Sindhi-led Pakistan People’s Party, 197 SKB, See Surat Kesepakatan Bersama Soviet incursion in Afghanistan in 1979, 212 STAIN, See Sekolah Tinggi Agama Islam Negeri State-society relations in Indonesia, 77 Substantive democracy, 132 Suharto regime, fall of, 88 Supra-territorial nationalist’s ideology, 192 Surat Kesepakatan Bersama, 90 Syari’a law, in Malaysia, 160 Tanzimat (Reorganisation) Period, 220–21 Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI), 77, 87 Terrorism in Bangladesh, 58–60 Terrorism and Indonesia, 99 Transformists Muslims in Indonesia, 81 Tudeh party, 118–19 Turkey, capitalist free market economy, 241; economic development of, 240; Etatism, 222–24; and EU legislation, 245; human development indicators and trends, 251–57; mechanisation of farming, 226; Muslims of, 238; one-party system in, 225; organic/ induced development, 219–21; population of, 236; process of modernity in, 223; secular state and political Islam, 230–33; shortcomings of democracy, 239–46 Turkish–Islamic synthesis, 231–32



Ulema (Muslim scholars’), 164 UN Arab Human Development Report 2002, 18 United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), 140 Urdu-speaking migrant elite, 193 Wakaf (form of public donation), 159 Washington’s policy of democratisation of Muslim societies, 178

Western Europe and society, 220 Westernisation and Turkey, 222 Women’s leadership and political participation in Indonesia, 91 Yang di-Pertuan Agong, head of religion, 159 Yayasan Pelaburan Bumiputera, 147 Zakat (tithe), 159

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