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Research Report

Pakistan:: the end of exceptionalism?

Edited by Luis Peral
Samina Ahmed
Muhammad Amir Rana
Gilles Boquérat
Stephen P. Cohen
Ijaz Shafi Gilani
Maleeha Lodhi
Polly Nayak
Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2012
Pages: 56
OPEN ACCESS
https://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep07083
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 3-8)
    Luis Peral

    Pakistan is often approached by external analysts as a unique and challenging security problem which poses serious threats to the international community. The Pakistani people also tend to believe, if for different reasons, in their country’s exceptionalism.¹ The consolidation of democracy will be made more difficult under these circumstances, since the consolidation process inevitably entails a ‘normalisation’ of political and institutional life. Exceptionalist approaches tend to be self-perpetuating, without giving the population a chance to build on their own strengths.

    Domestic and international actors who have influence over Pakistan should be aware that democratic consolidation will be difficult in a...

  2. I. PROSPECTS FOR DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN PAKISTAN

    • (pp. 9-13)
      Maleeha Lodhi

      Pakistan faces many new and enduring challenges today. Beset by an array of formidable problems, the country is navigating a critical transition from military to civilian rule – Pakistan’s third democratic transition. Transitions, as Pakistan’s history testifies, are complex processes. This time the transition is proceeding in a very fraught regional and domestic environment and when the twin, interconnected internal challenges of security and solvency are particularly acute. But it is also a moment of opportunity. Changes in the political and social landscape have opened up new possibilities for the consolidation of democracy and longer-term transformation of the country’s governance. What...

    • (pp. 14-17)
      Ijaz Shafi Gilani

      The fundamental challenge in Pakistan is that a stagnant state structure is unable to cope with the unsettling effects of a a rapidly changing society. This is at the root of the prevailing unrest; but it also seems evident that Pakistani public opinion is clearly inclined to search for a new balance of forces in society through legal and constitutional means rather than by a massive upheaval of the status quo achieved through street politics and violence. The majority of the population supports the rule of law and does not endorse violence as a means of bringing about social change....

    • (pp. 18-26)
      Muhammad Amir Rana

      Religious discourse in Pakistan is characterised by the presence of a large number of political and non-political religious organisations, violent sectarian and religiouslymotivated militant groups and a vast network of religious seminaries, or madrassas, belonging to different schools of sectarian thought. The discourse of every religious sect, which is mainly represented by one or more of its major religious organisations, has these attributes. Religious organisations pursue multiple agendas, such as the transformation of society according to their ideologies, the enforcement of Sharia law, the establishment of the Khilafah (caliphate), the fulfilment of their sectarian objectives and achievement of Pakistan’s strategic...

  3. II. LAW AND ORDER:: UNCERTAIN TRANSITION FROM MILITARY TO CIVILIAN CONTROL

    • (pp. 27-32)
      Samina Ahmed

      The deterioration of law and order countrywide, from the state’s failure to hold perpetrators of violence – political, criminal and militant – accountable, to the inability to effectively control large tracts of territory, has assumed alarming proportions in Pakistan. Focusing on the country’s criminal justice system, more specifically on the role of the police and the judiciary, it is worth examining the challenges to law and order in the context of an evolving civil-military relationship.

      Pakistan’s democratic transition offers opportunities for tangible security sector reform, including the reform of a dysfunctional police force, deprived of autonomy and adequate resources – administrative, technical and...

    • (pp. 33-38)
      Stephen P. Cohen

      Democratic consolidation may be inversely related to ‘stability’ if by that we mean the continuation of an oligarchic political order, usually termed ‘the establishment’. Over sixty years of an establishment-dominated political order – whether by the army or by the army in cooperation with civilians – has not made Pakistan a democratic country in most senses of the word, except that the aspirations of many Pakistanis are to have democracy Pakistan-style. This aspiration is held by many in the army, which would like to have political leaders that can govern Pakistan in a way that is commensurate with its own high standards....

  4. III. DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL RESPONSES TO SOCIOECONOMIC CHALLENGES

    • (pp. 39-45)
      Polly Nayak

      While much of the West’s attention has been focused since 9/11 on security issues in the tribal periphery of Pakistan with an eye to Afghanistan, larger and longer-term risks to internal – and, potentially, regional – stability have been growing in ‘main Pakistan.’ The failure of successive Pakistani governments to translate past economic growth into improved social indicators represents a lost opportunity to shape foreseeable population and economic trends strategically. With Pakistan’s economy now in decline and the added pressures of high global food and oil prices, even a visionary government with a free hand to make sweeping changes would face...

    • (pp. 46-49)
      Gilles Boquérat

      For many decades, international approaches to Pakistan were dictated by the context of the Cold War and the country’s tension-filled relationship with its Eastern neighbour. From a Western perspective, democratic India was sitting on the wrong side of a bipolar world whereas military-ruled Pakistan was seen as an accommodative ally eager to assist in containing the Communist threat. Pakistan insisted on getting in exchange, apart from financial and military assistance, support in its dispute with India, notably over Kashmir. This made it difficult to move beyond a zero-sum game. It was nearly impossible to dissociate relations with one from relations...