Links Feedback Home Home
 Curriculum Vitae
 Topic-wise  Classification
 Published Work
 Papers Presented
 Newspaper Articles
Daily Times
The Dawn
Herald Magazine
The News
Journal - NGORC
The Friday Times
The Nation
The Express Tribune
 Guest Book


Dr.Akmal Hussain
Newspaper: The Express Tribune
Dated: Monday, 19 November 2012

Recent research under the rubric of the New Institutional Economics casts light on the problem of violence and the institutional forms of managing it.  North and others have argued that since the dawn of history, management of violence to establish order in society has been the principal challenge for human society. Without a semblance of order it is not possible to have the structured interaction between individuals that defines social stability, conduct transactions in the economy and enable various organizations of the state to function in harmony. In Pakistan today, widespread disorder threatens the cohesion of state and society and is a major constraint to economic growth.

How has violence been controlled in human history? Through the establishment of resilient institutions. Here it may be helpful to define an institution. An institution is a set of formal rules and informal norms that together with their enforcement mechanisms structure human interaction. Now for rules to be effective, enforcement mechanisms must function. At the same time rules embody incentives and disincentives and so if they are enforced, they shape the behaviour of individuals and organizations. Violence occurs either when the rules do not take account of organizations that specialize in violence and undermine order, or when rules are not enforced. In such a case it is a failure of the executive alongwith its law enforcement agencies such as the police, and military. In any case if as in Pakistan at present, there are non state organizations that have emerged as rival powers to that of the state within its geographic domain, then it is the state as a whole that gets undermined, not just its component organizations.

Max Weber defines the state in terms of its monopoly over the legitimate use of violence. Now the minimum function through which a state acquires legitimacy is the provision of security of life and property of citizens. In this sense, if there is widespread violence by non state groups who remain unchallenged, then the monopoly of the state over violence is lost and hence the very legitimacy of the state gets eroded. This sets into motion a self destruct process, where normally peaceful and law abiding citizens having lost confidence in the state to establish order, begin to join one or the other militant group or otherwise take to lawlessness to protect their individual interests. When law is not enforced and cannot provide order, the law ceases to exist. Civil war can result at some stage in the continuing breakdown of order. Foreign powers seeking to protect their own interests then step in as the state unravels. This is what we observe in sub Saharan Africa, Libya, and more recently Syria.

It is in this perspective that it is possible to understand the vociferous demand for establishing order in Karachi by the National Assembly members as well as the Senate last week. Armed militant groups driven by various ethnic, sectarian and gang identities, are competing for power and resources by seeking to control parts of the city. The Judiciary too had earlier called upon the government to fulfill its primary responsibility of providing protection of life and property to citizens in Karachi. But the problem is not limited to Karachi. Taliban groups are on the rampage in FATA, and even settled areas such as Swat in Pakhtunkhwa, D.I. Khan in Southern Punjab and areas bordering Afghanistan in Baluchistan. Worse still in some of the major cities in the Punjab, Sindh, Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan, Taliban groups have pre positioned themselves with arsenals of weapons and trained cadres. They have the capacity to launch simultaneous terrorist attacks aimed at paralyzing the main urban centres of the country.

This is the defining moment for Pakistan. The vision of the founding fathers was of a pluralist democratic polity nurtured by love, enlightenment and freedom; of a society enriched by the soaring creativity of its human potential. Can this experience of being be brought to bear in confronting the forces of hate, bigotry and oppression; the forces of fear, that alienate us from the aesthetic and the spiritual. Can a consensus be achieved on who we are as a nation and can the state defend the nation?


Designed & Developed By INTERSOL International