Professor speaks on the violence in Pakistan
Published: Friday, September 21, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 00:09
This Thursday, Professor Paul Staniland presented a lecture entitled “Beyond the Monopoly of Violence: Militancy and the State in Pakistan” at UConn’s Student Union Ballroom.
Professor Staniland has done extensive research on civil wars, international security and the politics of South and Southeast Asia. He is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Chicago, and has written several publications on foreign policy. The lecture presented this week discussed some of Staniland’s pre-research for his upcoming book titled “Networks of Rebellion: Explaining Insurgent Cohesion and Collapse.”
Staniland began the lecture by emphasizing that Pakistani politics are interlinked with militarized groups that utilize violence in order to gain influence over the country. This political violence is due to a structural flaw in the government. In developing countries like Pakistan, violence is intentional. Political parties and factions have resorted to violence for various reasons, such as pressurizing voters and securing deals amongst politicians.
Pakistan is technically a democracy, Staniland explained, so elections need to happen. Yet it also has violent militants who ensure that politicians keep their seats. The Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) was an ally of former president Pervez Musharraf and was prominent during his time in office. However, the MQM is not an ally of the Bhutto family’s Pakistani People Party (PPP), which is currently in power. Therefore, the MQM is now a target in the eyes of the state.
Staniland made the example of Altaf Hussain, the leader of the MQM, who fears for his safety and has been living in London since the 1990s. Hussain continues to make speeches through telephone and webcam during the MQM rallies in Pakistan.
Staniland then came to the focus of the lecture, which was exploring the three different logics of violence management. In other words, how do countries monopolize and control political aggressions?
The first logic, posited Staniland, is proxy war. This is when non-state militants are used to target rivals. When rivals live abroad, the targets are usually neighboring countries. When violence is domestic, the state itself has to pay the price for the damage it causes.
The second logic that Staniland presented is local control. Local control is when the state makes deals with violent militants through indirect or semi-direct means.
Staniland’s third logic is electoral influence. This is where armed groups have an electoral count. This last form of logic is somewhat rare.
Staniland concluded that countries like Pakistan are neither stable nor unstable. It is good that violence is not instigated by thoughtless hatred. Even though political violence is not the best way to oppress violence, it is a more systematic and controlled approach to the issue.