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IV. Political Processes in Post-Soviet Central Asia

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image of Perspectives on Global Development and Technology
For more content, please see Journal of Developing Societies.

The Central Asian republics inherited a high degree of civic order. The challenge that confronts these republics today is whether or not, as independent states, they will be able to maintain order and stability; and if so, by what means will they achieve this. It is unlikely that in the near future these newly independent states will be able to mobilize sufficient resources to sustain the level of development achieved under Soviet rule. Standards in health care and education are showing signs of severe erosion; the general social and technical infrastructure, especially in rural areas, is deteriorating owing to inadequate maintenance and investment. If this regression continues, it is likely to have potentially disastrous political consequences. Pauperization, frustrated hopes, bitter competition for scarce resources, as well as the increasing gap between aspirations and the ability to satisfy them, could provide a fertile breeding ground for intercommunal violence, as has already occurred in Tajikistan. In some areas, particularly in the south, this is finding expression in a militant form of Islam. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, there were many who cherished the same hopes for the Central Asian republics that had previously been held for the newly decolonized world of the 1950s, namely, that it would be possible to launch these states on a smooth process of cultural change, economic growth, and stable democracy. The reality here, as in other parts of the developing world, has already proved to be far more complex. To consolidate genuine political and economic reform will require a fundamental shift in social and cultural attitudes.


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