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19. Pakistan  

Regime Change and Military Power

David Taylor

This chapter examines Pakistan’s history of regime change and the military’s persistent influence on the country’s political process. Since its creation in 1947, Pakistan has struggled to develop a system of sustainable democratic government. It has experienced a succession of regime changes, alternating between qualified or electoral democracy and either military or quasi-military rule. Underlying apparent instability and regime change in Pakistan is the dominance of the military in domestic politics. Ironically, the reintroduction of military rule has often been welcomed in Pakistan as a relief from the factional disputes among the civilian political leaders and accompanying high levels of corruption. The chapter first traces the history of Pakistan from independence to its breakup in 1971 before discussing government instability from 1971 to 1999. It then describes General Pervez Musharraf ’s rule from 1999 to 2008 and concludes with an assessment of the armed forces’ continuing involvement in Pakistani politics.


Natasha Lindstaedt

For many years, the concept of an authoritarian regime was considered to be one large category, with little understanding of how these regimes differed. The study of authoritarian regimes has come a long way since. Though all authoritarian regimes share in common that there is no turnover in power of the executive, there are considerable differences that distinguish autocracies. Authoritarian regimes today are increasingly attempting to use ‘democratic’ institutions to prolong their rule. This has led to a rise in competitive authoritarian regimes, or hybrid regimes. In spite of these changes, authoritarian regimes are more robust than ever. This chapter explains the different ways in which authoritarian regimes are categorized. The chapter then explains how the different types of authoritarian regimes perform, and what factors make them more durable. As the chapter demonstrates, autocratic regimes have become increasingly better equipped to maintain themselves.


This chapter examines authoritarianism, providing a framework for understanding authoritarian regimes. Although all autocracies share a disregard for competitive elections and pluralism, the structural differences between them are vast. The chapter begins by discussing totalitarian regimes. Scholars developed theories of totalitarianism to take account of the new type of dictatorship that emerged in Germany under Hitler and the Soviet Union under Stalin. This research represents some of the earliest efforts to disaggregate autocracy. Political science research subsequently built on these early efforts, and scholars developed a number of ways to distinguish between different types of authoritarian systems. The chapter then presents a categorical framework for understanding differences across autocracies based on whether political power and decision-making reside with a single individual (personalist dictatorship), a party (single party dictatorship), the military (military regimes), or a royal family (monarchic dictatorship). Some dictatorships combine elements of more than one of these categories.


This chapter focuses on the pathways through which authoritarian regimes break down. Authoritarian regime exits fall into two general categories. Authoritarian regimes break down as a result of top-down processes initiated by regime insiders, such as military coups and elections. Authoritarian regimes also break down as a result of bottom-up pathways, including protests or insurgencies. The chapter then shows how the mode of regime failure influences a country's subsequent political trajectory. Some modes of exit like coups rarely lead to democratization, while other pathways, like peaceful protest, are more likely to usher in democracy. The chapter also discusses a different type of political transition: the departure of the regime's leader. It traces the pathways of authoritarian leader failure and explains how authoritarian leader exits influence the chance that the regime falls with the leader.