Political Economy of Conflict:
The Social Contract and Conflict in Pakistan
The main focus of this book is to analyze conflict in Pakistan, mainly the ethnopolitical conflict. It builds a case that conflict in Pakistan has been a product of the weakening of its social contract. This is both a qualitative and quantitative work that relies on both primary and secondary data as well as diverse techniques from historical interpretative analysis to econometrics.
The research attempts to link the historical evolution and composition of the social contract and the struggles over identity in the pre and post-independence era of Pakistan. It sets up a theoretical framework that defines the relevant concepts of identity, ethnopolitics, conflict, social contract, institutions and the saliency of socio-economic determinants of conflict. To test this theoretical framework, an analytical framework is proposed which operationalizes these concepts. Data about the violent and nonviolent ethnopolitical conflict from 1972 to 2005 is collected, coded and put into a data scheme that helps us build the composite and individual pictures of this conflict through time. This database is unique to the extent of Pakistan. The research finds that the intensity of the major individual conflict has mostly followed an inverted U curve through time. Except for Balochistan, this is true for both the violent as well as nonviolent conflict.
The emerging conflict is then explained with the help of the decay of institutions of conflict management. These include both the formal and informal types. Two political and two economic institutions are selected for analysis which is part of the fiscal federalist scheme of the constitution. The findings suggest that consociational federalism has worked to bring down the intensity of conflict among the federating units. To investigate the political power dynamics, an original scheme of quantifying the political power gap in the state structure is employed and the emerging picture is then contrasted with the picture of ethnopolitical conflict. The analysis also suggests that democracies have worked better at containing the conflict inside the institutions that were created for their management.
The research takes up the salience of the debate about the social and political horizontal inequalities, especially in the Pakistani context and follows it with an econometric analysis of the data related to these inequalities and conflict. Linking grievances with the socio-economic and political horizontal inequalities among federating units, the econometric results suggest that overall, larger inequalities led towards greater ethnopolitical conflict.
The saliency of the social contract in understanding the conflict in Pakistan cannot be overemphasized. A composite view of the explanatory framework of conflict in Pakistan is attempted in this research, which will help formulate better policy options for conflict resolution, avoidance, mediation and management.