Pressure Groups And Stability Of Regime In Pakistan

The literature review will focus on the issues and the reasons that affect the stability of regime in Pakistan, mainly focusing on the different forms of pressure groups, the role they have played, whether positive or negative in the past and what is the future of Pakistan if these pressure groups continue to be dominating and influential. Also some of the important eras will be highlighted like Zia’s regime or Musharraf’s regime. Most of the articles are basically theory based with no such statistical model applied and basically focus on the prevailing instability in Pakistan and issues related to it.

According to the writer the reason behind the instability is basically the lack of a proper political system in Pakistan. No government has survived for long and successfully. The national assembly has been dissolved 10 times and 3 times the reason was military interference. No political parties have worked together in peace. There has been always a conflict of interest or power. At the same time religious parties have created their own brand of Islam and are exploiting the situation. Lack of fair elections and corruption has led to extreme cases like political victimization and political polarisation. Even though democratic political institutions exist they are weak and fragile. Another factor is of the existence of feudal lords, which has caused a structural imbalance between the middle class, and the upper class, which comprises of mostly landlords and industrialists. Majority of the power lies in the hands of the upper class. Another issue that has been highlighted in the article is the ethnic conflict that has been in debate for years. Other issues that are discussed in the article are the role of army, rising power of the religious parties and lack of proper rule of law. To conclude the article discusses that future of Pakistan lies in a more democratic environment where there is less corruption and the role of judiciary would be stronger in maintaining a balance between the arbitrary power and the party in power. Today the masses are more informed about the political system in Pakistan and one way it has contributed to the development of the country as a whole however there are other major factors like increase in the level of suicide attacks, food shortage, water and power shortage which has adversely affected the country.

What was a basic ideology for the existence of the country is now more of a pressure group that seeks to gain power by exploiting the constant military intervention and forcing out the secular political parties. The creation of political polarisation amongst civilian and military, among different ethnic groups and provincial groups and among Islamists and secularist has disrupted the regime stability. Also now religious pressure groups have become more powerful, well armed and well financed and influence different branches of government. People have lost trust in the secular parties like Muslim League (Nawaz) and PPP and at the same time most of the military rulers have used Islamist for their own political purpose, be it Zia or be it Musharraf. According to the author the best way to control the growing power of Islamists is through democracy and strengthening the civil society. Also he suggests that U.S intervention in such matter should be taken especially after September 11 attacks. The biggest limitation of this article is that it focused more on the role of Islamist in the past than their existing role. Also the conclusion is very uncertain and vague as to how should this pressure group be controlled. The condition of Pakistan is deteriorating and if we look at the current scenario the one of the biggest problem the religious groups that has created disruption and fear among the lives of the people. The writer focuses more on the past the past then the future.

From 1947-1958 the two most economically powerful pressure groups in West Pakistan were the landlords and the business groups. In East Pakistan the power lied in the hands of the middle class income groups, after the land acquisition act in 1951. Whereas in West Pakistan feudalism was on it peak whereby one-fifth of the cultivable land was owned by one-half of one percent of the owners. Not only were these landowners active in politics by capturing the majority seats in the assembly. In provincial elections in 1951 in the former Punjab about 80 percent of the members elected were landlords. Out of 40 members in the constituent assembly 28 members were landlord groups. The landlords groups have been long engaged in rivalries. As rival groups were more or less in agreement in retaining their landed interests, politics in Pakistan has become a cynical pursuit of sheer power. The domination of feudal lords and family rivalries affected the politics of Pakistan. The influence of business groups was small since at that time there were few industries. It was indirect, whereby they were formally organized and they put effective pressure on the decision-making authorities from outside the governmental institution. The labor class is very weak, but slowly the trade unions are growing strong and influential when it comes to labor issues.

Feudal system is still prevalent in the rural areas whereby the decision of the big landlord is considered to be the final verdict. Also the major leaders of political parties have the landowning background be it Asif Ali zardari, Sharif brothers or Altaf hussain. These landowners due to their rivalries have affected the stability in a bad way. Even though this article is very old but is of extreme relevance as discuses the root cause that lead to the emergence of Pressure groups in Pakistan and is can be of importance when comparing the regimes over-time and how the roles have changed.

The later impact of this was that when Zia’s regime ended the position and the jobs that were promised to the religious Ulemas who had no formal education but merely an informal education in the madrasas were rejected. This frustrated the religious militancy, which resulted in an extreme behavior and disruption. Furthermore religious groups can be categorized as the role of Taliban in destruction of Pakistan. The impact of the training of Taliban’s during the Afghanistan war and providing them with arms and funding them has now become problematic for Pakistan with a huge number of suicide attacks happening and terrorizing the whole country. Zia-ul-haq immense support for the Islamic activists has resulted in the religious polarisation that exists in today’s Pakistan. The statistics say that by 1996 there were around 2463 madrasas only in Punjab and 1700 were supported from outside sources that included the Persian Gulf and Middle East. These Islamic teaching centers are more now a central place for the political activities. Thus, it can be concluded from this article that the rise of Islamists and constant battle between Sunni and Shia has resulted in instability in Pakistan over the years.

However Pakistan which is presided by Musharraf and is in the shackles of economic recession and anarchy needs heavy financing for not only sustaining the Musharraf’s regime but also its economic well being. Despite strong U.S alliance it doesn’t do a sufficient to save Pakistan from drenching. Religious extremism diverts a lot of attention of the government of Pakistan as the attacks and events leading to deaths and bloodshed have recently increased in the country. People feel insecure and threatened by their own fellows. In the name of religion wrong doers are exploiting the weaker ones. Military has taken over the country, sometimes directly by enforcing Marshal law and sometimes indirectly by influencing the government when making the decisions. Also the prevailing condition as the country is on the verge of Civil war military is more active within the country than on the outskirts to protect it from its neighbors.

The four categories of elites are economic, political social and religious. Each of these exerts different levels of influence over the government. According to the author Political elites include, officers, and members of large landowning families. Economic elites include the industrialist class, which can be considered as newly wealthy and newly influential. The conflict between the two elite classes is one of the major reasons for instability.

As 4th president has been dismissed since 1988, the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif won the majority of seats however Benazir Bhutto claimed that the elections were unfair and there has been extensive fraud. Although PPP became popular because of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto for giving an ordinary man a political voice but Benazir ruled the party in a completely opposite opinion of her father by supporting privatization over nationalization and viewing US as a major ally rather than a potential threat. From a position of weakness in martial law period the judiciary has began to re-assert its independence. However, the role of judges is still controversial. The emergence of free press was a positive sign but at the same time, Pakistan’s mismanagement of economies reflects the weakness of the political structure. The political game has taken over a priority in the long-term policy making. Problems such as fiscal deficiency, debt and long-term business interest erosion have always drifted the economic cursor.

The increase in ethnic fragmentation, religious extremism and centralization if political power has created political crisis which needs to be solved as soon as possible otherwise it will result in civil war amongst the ethnic groups, domestic and international terrorism and implementation of marshal law. Not only the government of Pakistan should work on this but also should form allies with the external players like US, Japan and European Union (EU). Furthermore in this article the author talked about the regime of Nawaz Sharif as this article is written during that period of time. Here the writer highlights some of policies adopted by Nawaz Sharif, in which he aims at centralizing the power to the central and creating anarchy. Furthermore the conflicts between the ethnic groups have increased widely whereby Punjab is considered to be the most popular, developed and largely focused on in terms of allocating resources, improving education system. This has resulted in other 3 provinces becoming more backward and less developed and sense of deprivation. The writer also discusses on how the civil institution have weakened during Nawaz Sharif’s era as he is trying to gain popular support of the military. Other problems that were identified in the article were drug trafficking and settling of refugees. In conclusion the writer has basically focused on support from the international players.

first is democratization and civil-military relations; and second islamization and Islamism’s relation to the state. Both of issues are separate yet interdependent on each other and needs to be analyzed and focused on as the future of the country is at stake. The writer also highlighted Musharraf’s era and despite that he was more liberal than Zia but he used the brand of Islam and is exploiting the public.