After Mubarak: Will Egypt survive democracy?

He's gone! After 18 days of violence, protests and a nation's unified call for democracy - Hosni Mubarak has resigned.

Asad Badruddin February 11, 2011
As dissidence swept the Middle East, events in Egypt turned sour. Hosni Mubarak was rumored to step down in a press conference yesterday but he disappointed many with his attempts to prolong his rule.

Things in Egypt could have gotten really ugly.

My guess was that crowds would march towards the Presidential Palace pressuring him to step down - and they did.

What does democracy mean to Egyptians

This movement is  based on political ideas as opposed to personalities. ElBaradei should draw an agreement with the consensus of leaders of the brotherhood, and the Ghad party among others, mapping demands for civil liberties. There needs to be the evolution of a charter that demands separation of power between executive and judiciary, free and fair elections, independent candidates for the judiciary, minority rights, extent of market regulation, freedom of press and some indication of economic reform.

This way regardless of what happens in the future, the ideal of the revolution will be remembered. A movement without goals can easily be hijacked by a populist leader who cannot deliver fair governance.

Democracy is not perfect

If there is a democratic government it will far from perfect. Because of the complete absence of legitimate political parties none of the major contenders have any governing experience, although the Muslim brotherhood has done some community organizing. Coalition governments are difficult and getting rid of corruption is not easy. How do you transition from the current patronage network to a completely different one; albeit one that is more egalitarian and whose patronage is based on hard work, not family connections?

I hope whoever plans to be the next leader of Egypt has a strategy for this. Singapore and Malaysia have provided good examples of reducing corruption within their governance but this is a long process and might take decades to bear fruit.

Dictatorship: The vicious cycle

There is a strong possibility that what we could see (hopefully not) are cyclical events between civilian and military struggles as have been the case in Turkey. There will be mistakes made in the transition to democracy but they are mistakes for the Egyptians to make and learn from, not anyone else’s to fix.

Pakistanis should support the struggles in Egypt and the Middle East. A more democratic neighborhood will make it harder for our army to justify its role in politics.

Revolution season

This past two months we have all seen extraordinary uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen. There is no guarantee that this new order will even be everlasting or liberating. However if it is, then the Tunisian, Muhammed Bouazizi’s act of self immolation will go down in history as single handedly altering the Arab and Muslim landscape of the Middle East. The Arab awakening from the slumber of decades past has shaken the world.

Victor Hugo once remarked,
“There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”

Surely this moment has arrived for the Arabs who are reaching, more courageously than ever, for that realization of self autonomy.

The flame of dignity that was lit by the Tunisians has been fueled by the struggles of the people of Masr. May its light now spread throughout the world.
Asad Badruddin A student of economics and international relations at Tufts University in Boston who hails from Karachi. He blogs at
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