OPINION: The rising power of subnational identities

What people will die for

In the press conference at which the 19-year-old son of Benazir Bhutto was crowned co-head of the Pakistan Peoples Party, one note was striking. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s brief comments began with a pledge to “stand as a symbol of federation.” His words were carefully chosen. Pakistan’s deepest cleavage is not between religious extremism and liberalism, nor even dictatorship and democracy. It is between the country’s various regions. And in this regard, Pakistan is part of a growing phenomenon—the persistence and growing strength of subnational groups. With the end of the battle of ideologies—communism, socialism, liberalism—human beings’ oldest identities have moved to the core of politics. It is why people vote and what they will die for. [complete article]

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