Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



Political Development and Conflict Resolution in Pakistan

Conflicts in Pakistan emanate from a configuration of factors relating to the state system, the unstable regional setting, and the global system at large. The state system in Pakistan has been characterised by problems of constitutionally underdeveloped provincial set-ups, dysfunctionality of elections for the prevalent system perceived by a privileged migrant leadership, a centralist authority structure, and a domineering role of army. During the last five decades, the state system passed through various phases of centralism, populism, and constitutional engineering by the military-bureaucratic establishment as well as Islamisation, largely at the expense of provincial autonomy and a sense of participation in the business of the state shared by all communities. Non-recognition of electoral mandate as the final source of legitimacy led to the emergence of ethnic movements in East Pakistan, the NWFP, Balochistan, and Sindh. The perceived Punjabisation of the state has created feelings of ethnic hostility among all regions other than Punjab. Social insecurities caused by rapid social change, such as urbanisation in general and in-migration in Karachi in particular, have fuelled ethnic hatred all around. Similarly, the influx of refugees from neighbouring countries, along with arms and drug trafficking, has led to new patterns of identity politics and higher levels of political violence. The state’s relative non-performance at the local level has pushed many sectarian groups to exit from the parliamentary framework of politics towards a blatant use of arms. What)s needed is the creation of a third tier of government at the district and sub-district levels. At the top of the priority list should be a policy of decentralisation and continuity in the electoral process to bring the recalcitrant elements into the mainstream, de-weaponisation, and strengthening of political parties as interest-aggregating and policy-bearing institutions.

Mohammad Wseem