Democracy and civil society building are the main challenges for independent Uzbekistan. The movements to construct a civic mentality and a social contract between ordinary people and the power-sharing state are very slow and need transformation if Uzbekistan wants to remain a secular, independent, and progressive state.
Historical examples show that authoritarian governments have no future or success and that their failure is just a matter of time. The “negative” peace maintained by the Uzbek military regime cannot promote any radical transformation or real implementation of reforms needed in the country. Instead, it creates a vacuum of political and economic instability for the Uzbek people and state as well as for all of Central Asia.
The insurgence of Islamist groups and the threat of terrorist attacks have closed the eyes of the Uzbek government on deepening democratic reforms and the empowerment of civil society. There is much doubt in the Uzbek government’s desire for a strong and empowered society, liberal economy, and development. This doubt comes from the state politics during these last twenty years (1991-2011), which caused discontent in the masses by depriving them of basic human rights and needs as well as creating fear and oppression.
The only solution to Uzbekistan’s search for real democracy will come from a free and equal civil society that plays the role of an active partner, guiding the state in the right direction. It does not mean that civil society has more importance than the state structures, nor that the state is above civil society. On the contrary, they should be equal partners in an interactive dialogue.
This dialogue is key in building a relationship between an active, politically involved civil society and the state. The main goal of this dialogue is an active community with a civic mentality that acquires full citizenship and transforms any conflict in a different way, creates changes for development, and builds a strong base for future generations.