Failing State or Fragmented Hegemony: The Political Economy of Change in Pakistan
Akhtar, Aasim Sajjad
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The relationship between the Pakistani state and society is a complex and evolving one. It continues to be shaped by class, national oppression, patriarchy, caste-ism and the myriad legacies of colonialism. In his talk, Aasim Sajjad Akhtar argues that a classically dichotomized historical materialism is insufficient to capture the Pakistani condition. While the class structure has evolved considerably between the colonial and contemporary periods, the structure of power in Pakistan is still centred around patronage ties, even while the underlying bases of patron-client relations have been transformed. While patronage was based on the control over natural resources such as land and water under British colonialism, later regimes found themselves patronizing an intermediate class emerging out of the subordinate classes. In explaining these shifts, Akhtar uses a Gramscian framework of analysis to explore the shifting institutional dynamics of the state, the role of capital and the evolving bases of patronage within the political economy of Pakistan.