Between Democracy and Autocracy: International Conflict Behavior of States with Unstable Political Regimes Evidence from the Pakistani Case Academic Article uri icon


  • The focus of this paper is on regime type and international conflict behavior especially in context of existing normative and institutional explanations of the democratic peace phenomenon. The paper argues that democratic peace theorists oversimplify the link between regime type and conflict behavior by ignoring the many inter-linkages between norms and institutions and by treating autocracies and democracies as dichotomous / monolithic categories. We argue that norms, unlike institutions, do not change overnight. Hence, in case of institutional failure or sabotage, one must expect a lag-effect as regards norm erosion or formation vis--vis either regime type. In addition, the link between regime type and conflict behavior becomes even harder to predict in case of states that show a consistent cyclical pattern of regime transformation. We present a case study of Pakistan which is acknowledged as the only significant anomaly to the democratic peace phenomenon. The Pakistani case suggests that there can be significant theoretical costs for ignoring the differences between deliberation patterns and policy-making between established democracies or autocracies and states which are almost perpetually between regime types. Pakistans experience shows that a cyclical pattern of regime transformation can create distinct structures for political deliberation and policy making. These structures, and the actors who inhabit them, can transform the constant threat of institutional failure, present in the political system, into a mechanism for providing a degree of stability to the system on the one hand and in defining both the normative and institutional behavior under either regime type.

author list (cited authors)

  • Bashir, H.

complete list of authors

  • Bashir, Hassan

publication date

  • January 2014