THE STATE OF DEMOCRACY IN PAKISTAN: WEAK STATES AND PATRIMONIALISM

PATRIMONIALISM

The natural concomitant to this condition is weak or more accurately the intermittent attempts to impose some degree of coherence to both the state and the nation. This top down attempt inevitably leads to a fragmented polity where the commitment to democracy is largely rhetorical and other actors and groups like the army step in to fill the void. The polity then exhibits characteristics and features of praetorianism ,,patrimonialism and semi authoritarianism which may be the logical corollary to incoherence and dichotomy between the state and nation, weak state structures and crisis of legitimacy.

Weak state’s drift into patrimonialism or repatrimonalization may me inevitable. The term Patrimonialism was coined by the doyen of social and political scientists, Max Weber. It denotes a situation or condition where the objective interests of the state meld with the subjective interests of the regime in power(Ohlson & Soderberg,2002) ‘In patrimonial systems, leaders predicate their claim to power on powerful but informal structures of vertical patron client relationships with rewards going top down and support going bottoms up’ These states often display a hybrid political system in which the customs and patterns of patrimonialism prevail alongside with the modern state features’(Ohlson &Soderberg, 2002:9). Patrimonial state structures, broadly speaking, foster political decay and more specifically distort the system of incentives and misaligns them impinging on the polity and the national interest negatively.

They are exclusive and cannot inherently bring the entire population or citizenry under its purview. Some are excluded from the polity and power structures and thus rendered voiceless. And in the Hirschmanian formulation, patrimonial systems become prone to conflict or even violence. Given the limited scope and remit of patrimonial systems, loyalty and obedience have a premium over efficiency and productivity and corruption therefore becomes a structural feature of these systems.