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    Motivated by Dictatorship, Muted by Democracy: Articulating Women's Rights in Pakistan

    Women’s rights activists often cite the repetition of military dictatorships in Pakistan as being responsible for arrested democratic development, worsening gender discrimination and increased theocratisation of state and society. This chapter argues that in fact, whether the nature of dictatorship was repressive and misogynistic (as under General Zia ul Haq, 1977-88) or purportedly liberal and ‘enlightened’ (General Musharraf, 1999-2008), women’s activism has been arguably the most energised and even incomparably influential, during such regimes. This is especially so in terms of mobilised political expression. In comparison, democratic interregnums have tended to mute women political actors, both in government and in civil society or sometimes through self-censorship. …