ResearchPDF Available

Abstract

This paper is part of a 3 part series on how people imagine and experience the state in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. We carried out field research in Swat, Pakistan between May and October 2018. We then used historical records to construct a political settlement analysis and used this to interpret the primary data. The field research was done by Shehryar Toru, Rubab Syed and Shujaat Ahmed.
Researching livelihoods and
services affected by conict
Why services won’t
always buy legitimacy:
Everyday experiences of the state
in Swat, Pakistan
Working Paper 82
Aoife McCullough, Shehryar Toru,
with Rubab Syed and Shujaat Ahmed
July 2019
Researching livelihoods and
services affected by conict
B
SLRC publications present information, analysis
and key policy recommendations on issues
relating to livelihoods, basic services and social
protection in conict affected situations.
This and other SLRC publications are available
from www.securelivelihoods.org. Funded by UK
aid from the UK Government, Irish Aid and the EC.
Disclaimer: The views presented in this
publication are those of the author(s) and do not
necessarily reect the UK Government’s ofcial
policies or represent the views of Irish Aid, the EC,
SL RC or ou r pa r tn ers . ©SLRC 2019.
Readers are enc ouraged to quote or reproduce
material from SLRC for their own publications.
As cop yri gh t ho lder SLRC reque sts due
acknowledgement.
Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium
Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
203 Blackf riars Road
London SE1 8NJ
United Kingdom
T +44 (0)20 3817 0031
F +44 (0)20 7922 0399
E slrc@odi.org.uk
www.securelivelihoods.org
@SLRCtweet
Cover photo: Suns et over the Mingora City,Swat
Valley, Pakistan. Imranrashid26, Wikimedia
Co mm on s, (CC BY- SA 3.0).
Written by Aoife McCullough,
Shehryar Toru, with Rubab Syed
and Shujaat Ahmed
i
The Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium (SLRC)
aims to generate a stronger evidence base on
statebuilding, service delivery and livelihood recovery in
fragile and conict-affected situations. It began in 2011
with funding from the UK’s Department for International
Development (DFID), Irish Aid and the Europ ean
Commission (EC).
Phase I: 2011 - 2017
SLRC’s research can be separated into two phases.
Our rst phase was based on three research questions
on state legitimacy, state capacity and livelihoods,
developed over the course of an intensive one-year
inception phase. Findings from the rst phase of research
were summarised in ve synthesis reports produced
in 2017 that draw out broad lessons for policy-makers,
practitioners and researchers.
Phase II: 2017 - 2019
Guided by our original research questions on state
legitimacy, state capacity, and livelihoods, the second
phase of SLRC answers the questions that still remain,
under three themes:
Theme 1: What are the underlying reasons for
continued livelihood instability in post-conict
recovery situations?
Theme 2: How doe s the experience of conict
link to how people experience trust, fairness and
expectations of the future as part of their recovery?
Theme 3: How doe s ser vice delivery inuence the
negotiation of state legitimacy?
Theme 3: Services and state legitimacy
This paper is one of three case studies conducted in
Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Pakistan. Researchers from
the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI)
in Pakis tan, the Social Scientis ts Association (SSA)
in Sri Lanka, Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in
the UK and independent researchers collaborated to
produce these case studies. The research lead was Aoife
McCullough.
The case studies under this theme consider when and
why services inuence the negotiation of state legitimacy.
Development donors and practitioners often assume that
improving access to services will contribute to improving
state legitimacy in post-conict environments. Findings
from SLRC I did not support this assumption; data from
our panel survey indicated that access to, or improved
satisfaction with basic services did not necessarily
translate into improved perceptions of government. On
the other hand, when people experienced a problem with
a service, this translated into negative perceptions of
government.
In SLRC II we sought to understand why access to,
or improved satisfaction with basic services had a
limited effect on people’s perception of government
while experiencing problems with services had a much
stronger effect. We broadened our research angle to
examine processes of negotiating state legitimacy
and located this negotiation within evolving political
settlements. Using this broader approach, we sought
to understand when certain aspects of service delivery
become salient in the negotiation of state legitimacy.
In addition to these country studies, a third round of
the panel survey was carried out in 2018 in Uganda,
Nepal and Pakistan. New questions were added to the
survey that were designed to capture a range of opinions
related to perceptions of state legitimacy. The ndings
from the survey are forthcoming.
For more information on who we are and what we do,
visit: www.securelivelihoods.org/about-slrc
Preface
Acknowledgements
ii
The authors would like to thank all of the interviewees
who generously gave their time for this research. The
authors are especially grateful to Urs Geiser, Tom Kirk
and Tim Kelsall for their thoughtful comments on earlier
draf t s, to Sultan -i-Rome and Adnan Sher for providing
insights into Swat’s complicated social structures, and
to Mareike Schomerus for inspiration on titles, for helping
us to rene our argument and for patiently editing out
all ghost nouns and passive voice. The authors are also
grateful for George Richards, Stephanie Buell and
Patricia Prohaszka for pushing us to develop more
coherent recommendations.
iii
Acronyms
and glossary
DRC Dispute Resolution Council
JUI Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, a Deobandi
political party in Pakistan founded in
1947. During the Zia-ul-Haq regime, the
party divided into JUIS where S stood for
its leader Sami Ul Haq, and JUIF, where F
st ands for the name of its leader Fazal-ur-
Rehman. JUIS suppor ts jihadism and a
totalitarian state while JUIF supports the
restoration of democracy in Pakistan.
MMA Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, a political
alliance of Islamist and conservative
parties of Pakistan, including the JUIF
MPA Member of Provincial Assembly
NADRA National Database & Registration
Authority
NGO Non-governmental organisation
OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development
PATA Provincially Administered Tribal Area
PIU Produce Index Unit
SLRC Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium
TNSM Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi,
movement for the enforcement of Islamic
law, a militant group who took over much
of Swat in 2007
TTP Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the Pakistani
arm of the Taliban. Formed in 2007 when
13 groups agreed to unite under the
leadership of Baitullah Mehsud
Deobandi A revivalist Sunni movement
Gujar A non Pashtun ethnic group who were
traditionally herders
Jirga Assembly of leaders who make decisions
by consensus and according to Pashtun
tradition
Khan Title originally used by the Mongols;
commonly used in Pashtun society to refer
to a major landowner. In the past, it was
used to refer to a leader of a faction in a
particular valley in Swat
Paracha A professional class who traditionally were
shopkeepers, peddlers, owners of mules
and donkeys and transporters of grain
and manure
Pashtun Wider Pashto- speaking ethnic group,
/Pakhtun concentrated mainly in the north of
Pakistan and south of Afghanistan.
Qazi Judge of sharia court
Stanahdar Holy men or descendant s of holy men.
Before the establishment of the state,
stanahdars were able to own land and
in modern Swat are generally part of the
upper classes
Tahsildars Revenue ofcer
Wali Arabic for protec tor, used to refer to the
ruler of Swat
Yusufzai Dominant Pashtun tribe in Swat and other
valleys in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Contents
iv
Preface i
Executive summary v
Background v
Methodology v
Findings v
How the state was imagined vi
How the state was experienced vi
Conclusions vii
1 Introduction: reections on supporting state legitimacy in
international development 1
1.1 Assumption 1: there is a distinction between state and society 1
1.2 Assumption 2: the state is a collection of tangible institutions
and agencies 2
1.3 What this report is about 2
2 The political settlement of Swat 4
2.1 The rst state structures in Swat,
18 4 9 –1 9 69 4
2.2 The political settlement following the merger of the ‘princely
st ate’ with the central state, 1969–2007 6
2.3 Political settlement in Swat, 2008–2018 8
3 Imagining and experiencing the state in Swat 11
3.1 How people imagine the state in Swat 11
3.2 How people experience the state in Swat 13
4 The outlook on negotiating state legitimacy in Swat 17
5 Conclusions and implications 19
5.1 Recommendations 20
References 21
Annex 1: Research methods 22
Annex 2: List of key informants for the political settlement analysis 23
Annex 3: Suggested interview questions for key informant interviews 24
Annex 4: Emic perspectives of the state: interview questions 28
Box 1: Theoretical framework 3
Figure 1: The evolution of the political
settlement in Swat, Pakistan, during
the reign of Wali 1926 - 1969 10
Figure 2: Following the merge with
the Pakistani state 1970-2007 10
Figure 3: Following the Taliban
uprising 2013 - 2018 10
v
Background
In 2017, the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium
(SLRC) published a set of unexpected ndings. Between
2012 and 2015, services improved in Swat and Lower
Dir distric t s in Khy ber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakist an, but this
improvement in services did not change people’s opinion
of the government.
The ndings were based on a longitudinal survey that
was carried out in 2012 and 2015. Among other questions,
respondents were asked about their access to basic
services such as health education and health, their
satisfaction with those services and their perceptions
of government. These ndings raised questions about
key assumptions informing international development
programme s in post conict contexts, namely that if
people’s satisf action with services improved, this
would repair state/societ y relations and streng then
state legitimacy.
The survey asked people about their perception
of government, not about their perception of state
legitimacy. While the author s argued that perceptions
of government were a stepping stone to understanding
perceptions of state legitimacy (Nixon and Mallett, 2017),
measuring perceptions of government is only one slice
of the overall perception of state. It is qui te possible for
citizens to consider a particular government illegitimate
while believing that the state is legitimate. This present
research seeks to examine experiences of the state more
broadly. Using qualitative research, we explored whether
there is a role for services to play in the construction of
state legitimacy in Swat, Pakistan.1
Methodology
We rst conducted a political settlement analy sis of
Swat to identify groups that have different relationships
with the state. We categorised groups as ‘insiders’
1 A third round of the survey was carried out in 2018. A report that will integrate survey ndings with the qualitative ndings from this case study is forthcoming.
2 Disruptive potential is the ability to mobilise other people to protest the status quo either violently or peacefully.
groups that have disrupve potential2 but that are part
of the political set tlement; and ‘outsider s’ – groups with
disruptive potential but that are outside the current
poli tic al settlement . We dened the difference between
groups inside and outside the political settlement
by analysing how the state reacts to their disruptive
potential—groups inside the political settlement are co-
opted by the state while tho se outside it are repressed.
We then interviewed a purposive sample of 79 insiders
and outsiders from across Swat, using a set of open-
ended questions about what the function of the state
should be and how they experience the state on an
ever yday basis. Understanding people’s beliefs about
what the function of the state should be is important for
gaining an insight into what kind of state they consider
right for society. In this research, power becomes
legitimate when it is justiable by reference to core social
values and beliefs about what is right for society held by
those who are subject to that power.
Findings
The political settlement analysis allowed us to identify
specic aspects of state function that are salient in the
negotiation of state legitimacy in Swat and to explain why
these functions gained salience. In the past, under tribal
customs, only those who owned land held political power
and could participate in jirgas. As Swat was gradually
integrated into the Pakistani state, landed elites worked
to conserve their political power and maintain ownership
of land. Land claims by non - elites were held up in court
and titles were rarely formalised. Meanwhile landed
elites also worked to regain control over the judiciary by
negotiating for the integration of the Jirga system into
the formal judicial system. As a result, land registration
and the format of the justice system became key sites
over which the legitimacy of the state was negotiated. For
example, in 1970, tenants rose up against their landlords,
refusing to pay rent and making claims to certain tracts
of land. The landlords used their private armies of
Executive summary
vi
dependent s to suppre ss this uprising while st ate ofcials
failed to protect the tenant s. In 2007, labourers, service
providers and small time businessmen rose up again,
this time backed by the Pakistan Taliban and Tehreek-
e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM). The landlords
no longer had private armies to protect them and their
property; and in a move to gain monopoly over violence,
the Pakistani army was deployed to Swat to violently
suppress the uprising.
We found that the traditional landowning and business
classes continue to be inside the political settlement—
that is, they are co-opted by the state. Those lower down
in Swat’s class system such as day labourers, service
providers and those descended from traditional herders
continue to be repressed by the state and thus remain
outside the political settlement.
How the state was imagined
The structured interviews revealed some shared beliefs
about what functions the state should perform. Across
both insiders and outsiders, people imagined the state
as a provider of basic services and a constructor of
infrastructure. People further away from the centre of
power were more likely to imagine the state as a source
of jobs. But, while many people agreed on these three
core functions, people also imagined the state in a myriad
of other, less tangible, ways. People imagined the st ate
as a regulator of the physical and social environment, an
inuencer of values among the youth, and for some, as a
defender of Islamic values.
How the state was experienced
While there were similar notions among insiders and
outsiders about the function of the state, there were
signicant dif ferences in how people experienced
the st ate. Three main themes emerge d in stories that
interviewees told about their experienc es with the state.
First, there is the challenge of navigating the bureaucracy,
or the institutions of the state. Both insider and outsider
groups told stories about negotiating the registration
of companies, securing land cer t ic ate s or simply
travelling between regions in Pakistan. Most negotiations
ended by paying a bribe, but insiders and outsiders
described the experience of the negotiation differently.
Whereas insiders portrayed the paying of a bribe as a
way to resolve the situation, outsiders experienced it
as coercion. Furthermore, outsiders talked more about
having to rely on informal intermediaries such as elders to
mediate difcult situations involving the state, particularly
those involving the police.
The second main theme of respondents’ stories of the
state was the poor quality of services in Swat, especially
in healthcare. The way people were treated emerged as
an important aspect inuencing how service delivery was
evaluated. While insiders talked of being able to secure
special treatment because of their status, outsiders
told of being treated with disrespect, or being ignored
because service providers saw them as uneducated or
too poor to pay for the ser vice.
Third, in outsiders’ stories, there were recurrent themes
of structures of power outside traditional state structures
and even beyond Pakistan’s national borders. For example,
many returnee migrants talked of the high costs they had
to pay travel agents for visas to the Gulf countries or the ill
treatment they experienced in jobs they performed abroad.
They expressed disappointment that the Pakistani state
was not able to protect them against unscrupulous travel
agents and foreign construction companies.
Finally, there were several stories of people’s house s
being destroyed by the military during conict or of male
family members being arrested by the military and held
without trial. The former haven’t been compensated and
the latter have no information as to the status of their
family members.
The ndings from the qualitative research reveal the
differential treatment by service providers of people
according to their social status. The requirement to pay
bribes to gain access to services is experienced as coercive
by poorer people who can’t afford to make these payments.
These experiences provide people with evidence that
seems to support narratives promoted by the Pakistani
Taliban and TNSM that the Pakistani state is oppressive,
corrupt and only serves the interests of the wealthy.
The ndings also emphasize that the state is experienced
as much more than a provider of basic services. It was
clear that in many situations people experienced the state
as a coercive and unaccountable power. State absence
was also an experience of state, where the state failed to
provide protection for migrants.
The difference between what was described in
how people imagined the state and their stories of
experienc es of the state reveal a signicant disjuncture.
This disjuncture was particularly acute for outsider
Why services won’t always buy legitimacy: everyday experiences of the state in Swat, Pakistan
vii
groups, as how they imagined the state to function did not
translate into reality.
Conclusions
In Swat, services work to reproduce class relations
– in this case, distinctions between upper and lower
classes. In a region where the social hierarchy was
contested through the Islamist uprising in 2007/08
and in a tenant uprising in the 1970s, the reproduction
of class relations through services is likely to work to
delegitimise the state, particularly for those outside the
political settlement and who may have been involved in
the uprisings.
Donors face competing priorities in Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa. On the one hand, there is a need to
preserve the stability that has been achieved in most
areas since the military suppressed the Taliban uprising
in 2009. On the other hand, this stability is based on the
repression of certain groups that contested the state
in 2008/2009, and these repressive actions limit the
possibility for negotiating state legitimacy with those
groups.
To legitimate its power to non-elite groups, the state
needs to address at least some of the hotly contested
issues raised by repressed groups, including access to
land and a functioning justice system. Khans and other
elites will resist reform of the land tenure legislation
and deep reform of the justice system so donor funded
reform programmes need to target parts of the land
tenure and justice systems where there is some traction
and space for change. In this way, small incremental
changes can be achieved that are less likely to be
destabilising.
The emerging issue of the unaccountability of the
military will be a very sensitive area for donors to try and
inuence. However, a focus on addressing the factors
that incentivise corrupt and disrespectful behaviour
among civil servants would contribute to changing
the way that citizens experience other parts of the
bureaucracy. Improving the treatment of citizens by
civil servants will help avoid fuelling narratives that the
Pakistani Taliban and TNSM produce about the state as
oppressive, corrupt and only serving the interests of the
wealthy.
Recommendations
Recommendation 1: Focus efforts on addressing the
problems in state functions that are salient in the
negotiation of legitimacy in Swat: land registration
and the justice system.
Recommendation 2: To improve people broader
experience of the state, include indicators of how
people are treated when measuring the success of
service delivery programmes.
Recommendation 3: Treat reform of the bureaucracy
as a political process and invest in politically-
informed programmes that aim to adjust incentive
structures rather than provide training and capacity
building.
In international development, we often use terms such
as ‘state performance’, ‘government trustworthiness’
and ‘social contract’ to create the illusion of a consistent
relationship between society and the state that can be
used to tap into st ate leg itimacy. Most commonly, we
base ideas of state legitimacy on an institutionalist and
quite technocratic idea of the state. There is a widespread
belief among policy makers and academics that if those
institutions perform according to people’s expectations,
this will strengthen the legitimacy of the state (see
for example OECD, 2010; Krasner and Risse, 2014;
Ciorciari and Krasner, 2018; Levi, 2018; Stollenwerk,
2018). Services are one of the mos t tangible output s
of functioning state institutions and can, in theory, be
accessed by most citizens. As such, improving services
would seem to offer a way to strengthen state legitimacy.
The logic of this approach is enticing. Surely if the state is
delivering services and achieving improvements on standard
human development indicators, it will become more
legitimate? As with all enticingly simple notions of how the
world works, there are some problematic assumptions.
1.1 Assumption 1: there is a distinction
between state and society
The rst assumption built into this understanding of
how to construct legitimacy is that there is a line that
separates state from society. In fact, it is ver y dif cult to
clarify the distinction between state and society (Mitchell,
1991; Migdal, 200 9). Social and private sector elements
penetrate the state on all sides, and vice versa, making the
boundary between what is state and non-st ate porous.
Services such as health, water provision and education
are often partly or completely provided by private
companies or non-governmental organisations (NGOs),
depending on the country. Even in countrie s where
everyone perceives a service to be public, there can be
parts that are contracte d out to the private sector. In the
UK’s National Health Service, for example, the private
sector in fac t delivers many services.
When we speak about improving services to bolster state
legitimacy, do we really mean increasing regulation of the
private sector or NGOs to deliver services better? If the
private sector and NGOs involved in delivering ser vice s
are better regulated by the state, do people understand
this as state performance, and thereby perceive the state
to be more legitimate?
1 Introduction:
reections on
supporting state
legitimacy in
international
development
1
2
The structure of society, including the structure of social
relations, also inuences how ser vices are delivered.
State-brokers and powerful people within a community
mediate people’s relationship with the state. In Sri
Lanka, for example, people’s social status and their
connections to political representatives inuenced the
amount of social protection they received (Godamunne,
2015). This complicates the task of investing in services
with the aim of strengthening legitimacy. If resources are
increased to improve the reach of services, will those
who have connections with political representatives
receive the bulk of the benets? And, if so, will those
with connections consider the state as more legitimate
while those who are disconnected from political
representatives see the state as less legitimate?
1.2 Assumption 2: the state is a collection of
tangible institutions and agencies
The second assumption underpinning the idea that
improved services support the construction of state
legitimacy is that people understand the state only
as a collection of tangible institutions and agencies.
However, qualitative research on perceptions of state
legitimacy in South Sudan indicates that the state can
be an abstract entity that is disconnected from everyday
experience. Moro et al. (2017) found that many people
living outside of South Sudanese towns and cities did
not experience the state in a material form in their day-
to-day lives. Their idea of the state was an abstract idea
of independence from Sudan, rather than a tangible
reality in their daily lives.
Marx and Engels both argued that the state is an illusory
idea that presents a particular balance of political
power unaffected by class struggles (see Abrams, 1977).
This means that even in places where the state is an
everyday tangible reality, such as in the UK, at its core
the state remains an ideology rather than a ‘thing’. In
Abrams’ line of argument, the state apparatus, including
the military, police, judiciary, schools and hospitals, is a
product of that ideology and functions to maintain and
protect political power.
In this sense, perceptions of state legitimacy should
be based on judgements on whether a form of political
power is justied or not, rather than judgements about
state performance, government trustworthiness or
3 For more details, see Box: Theoretical approach
4 For more details on our method see Annex 1.
the strength of the social contract. However, as many
theorists of the state have pointed out, state ideology
works to camouage the legitimation of political power
structures (Abrams, 1977; Mitchell, 1991). So, what
inuences how people judge the rightness of a state?
1.3 What this report is about
In this report, we present the results of our attempt to
answer the question: ‘What inuences how people judge
the rightness of the Pakistani state in Swat Valley?’
We rst took a historical approach to the evolution of a
political settlement in Swat, to understand what aspects
of the settlement have been contested and how this
plays out in service delivery in Swat. Normally, political
settlement analysis is carried out at the national level.
For this research, examining the political settlement
at the subnational level was useful as it allowed us to
look for ways in which basic services have played a
role in the negotiation of state legitimacy in Swat since
the formation of a state. In particular, it allowed us to
understand why certain functions of the state became
key sites on which the legitimacy of the state was
negotiated.3 Through the political settlement analysis,
it became clear that land registration and an efcient
justice system were two aspects of state function over
which the legitimacy of the state was contested.
Field research in Swat between June and October 2018
deepened our understanding of the role services play
in how people experience and speak about the state.
To accommodate the challenge of the blurred boundary
between state and society, we asked open-ended
questions about the state including questions about
what the function of the state should be. We also asked
participants to describe an experience they had with
the state.4 The stories that people told were sometimes
about getting justice and getting land registered but
more often than not, they were about more diffuse
experiences of the state, going to the local hospital and
seeing piles of rubbish, getting arrested in Karachi,
or the absence of state such as loosing a job abroad
without any compensation.
Finally, we used our understanding of the political
settlement in Swat and the analysis of how people
imagine and experience the state to comment on the
outlook for negotiating state legitimacy in Swat.
Why services won’t always buy legitimacy: everyday experiences of the state in Swat, Pakistan
3
Box 1: Theoretical framework
Recognising that, at its core, the state is an ideolog y, but an ideology that produces a ‘state system’ (Abrams, 1977),
we approach the state as set of power congurations rather than a set of institutions. We hypothesised that people’s
experienc e of the st ate, and thus the way they judge state legi timacy, depends on their relationship with state power.
We draw on political settlement theory to inform our analysis of power relations in Swat. A political settlement is an
ongoing, conict-ending agreement among power ful groups , around a set of political institutions and a distribution of
power, expected to deliver an acc ept able distribution of bene ts (Kelsall 2018).
Drawing on Kelsall (2018), we use the idea that there is a ‘social foundation’ for a political settlement. A social
foundation is a group, or groups, whose consent to the settlement is crucial to the settlement’s reproduction. In
Kelsall’s framework, groups that form the social foundation are termed ‘insider groups’, whereas those whose
consent is not crucial are termed ‘outsider groups’. Kelsall’s approach differs from other approaches to analysing the
distribution of power in society. In much of the literature on developed countries, inspired by the Marxist tradition, the
analysis of power within society focuses on class. The problem is that this approach misses other forms of social and
political organisation linked to, for example, ethnicity, caste, religion and region.
Kelsall’s approach categorises groups according to both their disruptive potential and the way the political leadership
responds to this. Groups that have disruptive potential but are repressed by the political leadership are located
outside the political settlement, as ‘outsider groups’. Groups with strong disruptive potential that are co-opted by the
political leadership are located inside the political settlement, as ‘insider groups’. Many political settlements also
have ‘marginal groups’ that have weak disruptive potential. This means the state does not need to act to prevent
them from conte sting its power.
We also draw on Beetham (2013) to inform our approach to legitimacy. Thus power becomes legitimate when it is
justiable by referenc e to core social values and beliefs about what is right for society held by thos e who are subject
to that power. Power is legitimated through a two-way process between the ruler and the ruled. First, power must be
exerted in ways that conform to established rules. These rules may be unwritten as informal conventions, or they may
be formalised in legal codes or judgements. For these rules to be accepted, the rules must be justiable in terms of
the beliefs both dominant and subordinate groups hold. On its own, legal validity is insuf cient to secure legitimacy,
since the rules through which power is acquired and exercised need justication. As Beetham put it: ‘For any given
institution to generate leg itimacy, it must ultimately be justi able by reference to core social values, and resonate
with belief s about what is right for society’ (Beetham, 2013: 13).
Thus, we sought to understand how people in Swat imagined the state in order to observe whether there were shared
beliefs about the way st ate power should be exer ted. We also examined how people experienc ed the state to allow us
to analyse the difference between shared beliefs about state power should be exerted and the day-today experience
of how state power is exerted in Swat.
In this section, we trac e the development of the political
settlement in Swat. We rst examine the way in which
power was centralised during the establishment of
the st ate between 1849 and 1969. The push toward s
increasing centralisation of power was disrupted in
1969 when Swat merged with the rest of Pakistan. We
examine the effect the merge had on the negotiation of
st ate power. Through the analysis, we explore the role
that services played in the legi timation of st ate power.
We use this to under stand the signicanc e of certain
state functions, such as land registration and provision of
justice in modern day Swat. This analysis allows us to then
place and interpret the primary data collected on how
people imagine and experience the state in Swat in 2018.
2.1 The rst state structures in Swat,
1849–1969
To understand the current political settlement in Swat, it
is useful to examine systems for managing power before
power was consolidated in a centralised state structure.
Until 1849, political power was decentralised across
several factions . The leaders of most factions were
Yusufzai – an ethnically Pashtun tribe that conquered
Swat between the 16th and 17th centurie s. The Yusufzai
disposse s sed the tribes living in Swat of their land. Some
ed, but many staye d and became indentured to the
Yusufz ai (Plowden, 1875). The Yusufzai thus were the
main landowners. In each valley, the leaders of factions
were referred to as Khans.
Khans competed with each other to increase their power
by gaining either more land or more supporters (Barth
1959). All non-landowners, including tenant farmers,
herders, agrarian labourers and service providers paid
taxes to landowners in the form of agricultural produce
or services rendered. Political decisions were made in
groups called jirgas, of which only landowners could be
members (ibid.). Members of the saintly class ‘stanahdar’
were also able to own land and particpate in jirgas
(Sultan-i-Rome, 2017). Thus, the Yuzufzai and the saintly
class, such as Sayeeds and Mians, controlled rents and
political decision-making.
Fearful of inltration by the British and attacks by the ruler
of Dir (a neighbouring state), Yusufzai, who were more
numerous than stanahdars, agreed to select a king who
would defend their interest s. After the shor t-lived reign of
Sayeed Akbar Shah from 1849 to 1857, factions continued
to compete with each other, some leaders loosely aligning
themselves with the British, others contesting British
2 The political
settlement of
Swat
4
Why services won’t always buy legitimacy: everyday experiences of the state in Swat, Pakistan
5
power. In 1917, another Sayeed, Mian Gul Abdul Wadud,
succeeded in consolidating power and the British Colonial
Government recognised him as the Wali, or ruler, of
Swat. Abdul Wadud worked to centralise power through a
combination of strategies, including annihilating his rivals
and weakening the political system developed by the
Yusufzai that allowed land owners to command control over
non-landowners (Barth, 1959).
The Wali secured Khans’, Sayeeds’ and Mians’ suppor t
through coercion, patronising loyalty and making elite
families dependent on the new state (for example,
through offering them jobs in the army and the
administration). In the initial years of the Princely St ate
(starting in 1926), the Wali allowed Khans to draw their
own set of rules to be implemented in their localities. This
allowed the Wali to implement rule of law that aligned with
the beliefs of Khans. As Khans still needed the suppor t
of non-landowners in their political block, they negotiated
rules that were acceptable to their tenants. In this way,
the Wali worked to legitimate his power to Khans and
Khans worked to legitimate their power to their tenants.
However, the system was backed up by brute force, with
no separation of power bet ween the judiciary and the
executive, and limited downward accountability. Thus,
extensive negotiation between the Wali and the Khans
and the Khans and their tenants about the rules was
unneces sary. In this way, Abdul Wadud cultivated an
exclusive, highly personalised political settlement that
featured elements of dec entralised power.5 Swat state
emerged as a legal and administrative structure within
British India and, when the new Pakistani state was
formed, Swat initially maintained its status. Abdul Wadud
reigned in Swat until 1949 when he handed over power to
his son Miangul Jahan Zeb.
Within this new political set tlement, there were distinct
insider and outsider groups (see Section 2 for an
explanation). Insider groups included aligned Khans,
Sayeeds and Mians who drew their power from their
position of landlords and ext rac tor s of land rent. Certain
Mullahs also gained prominence during the Wali’s time
throug h patronage. As the state developed, trade became
increasingly important and a merchant class emerged.
Parachas, traditionally a group who were shopkeepers,
peddlers, and transporters of grain and manure, used
their connections to take advantage of the new trading
oppor tunities that developed in the 1930s and 1940 s.
5 We draw on Kelsall’s (2016) typology of political settlements to categorise the different settlements that emerged in Swat need to add reference.
6 Interview with president of Swat Chamber of Commerce, 3 July 2018
7 This theme emerged numerous times during our interviews with key informants in Saidu Sharif in May 2018. Most of the key informants were elites.
Abdul Wadud promoted small-sc ale weaving industries
with tax exemptions. The Parachas were the main group
to benet from these exemptions and by the 1960s
they dominated the silk industry, which employed 3,000
people.
Outsiders were non-aligned Khans. These groups had
been weakened through the Wali’s of ce’s conscation
of land in land disputes and through the administration
providing support to their rivals, resulting in non-
landowners increasingly positioning themselves in the
poli tic al groups of aligned Khans.
Groups lower down in the Swat class hierarchy could not
own land and, as a result, had almost no political power.
These groups can be classied as marginal groups.
As Swat gradually industrialised during the 1950s and
1960s, marginal groups began to work as daily labourers
in the silk and cosmetic factorie s.6
The reign of the rst and second Walis of Swat is
often nostalgically remembered as a time when there
was an efcient justice system, free education and
healthcare.7 By the time of the merger with the state of
Pakistan in 1969, Swat state had achieved substantial
advancements in the provision of healthcare: there were
16 hospitals with 611 beds for a population of just under
a million, and patients were provided with free medicine.
However, Swat was not necessarily more advanced than
other rural parts of Pakistan. While the second Wali, Mian
Gul Jehanzeb, son of Mian Gul Abdul Wadud, invested in
building a modern education system, by the time of the
merger the literacy rate was only marginally higher than
the average for rural areas in Pakistan (7.1% compared
with 6.1%) (Population Census of Pakistan, 1972). As both
Walis invested heavily in roads and communic ations, at
the time of the merger Swat had more infrastructure than
other rural areas. A growing infrastructure combined with
tax exemptions for industrialists promoted economic
growth.
Ideas about alternative models of state circulated in Swat
during the reign of the Wali, including models inspired by
Islamist Mullahs or by the Bolshevik revolution in Russia.
The Wali suppressed the promotion of alternative models
with brute force, either by alienating Islamist Mullahs
or through hanging those who were caught spreading
Bolshevik ideas (Sultan-i-Rome, 2008).
6
The Wali himself was heavily inuenced by the British
model of the state, which at the time (1955 – 1969)
was orientated towards providing free health care, free
educ ation and family allowances. It is not clear, however,
that the Wali’s ofce invested in hospitals and schools
to respond to the demands of non-elite and to legitimate
his power. Indeed, in the 1930 s, Abdul Wadud shut down
schools —fearing that educating people would make them
contest his power (Sultan-i-Rome, 2008). It is more likely
that the reason his son Miangul Jahan Zeb invested in
basic services was to demonstrate to the outside world
Swat’s legitimacy as a princely state. As the state became
more consolidated, the Wali’s ofce increasingly modelled
itself on a benign monarchy and legitimated its power by
demonstrating economic development, modernisation
and it s ability to subordinate rival groups. However, this
legitimation work was directed at a limited audience –
namely, the landowning, saintly and merchant classes
within the political settlement. Delivering ser vic es to
the masses was an idea that was beginning to take hold
among certain elites, but there is little evidence that a
signicant majority of elites linked the right of the Wali
to rule to providing health services, education and clean
water for all.
2.2 The political settlement following the
merger of the ‘princely state’ with the
central state, 1969–2007
When the Swat ‘princely st ate’ merged with the Pakist ani
central state, the political settlement shifted once more.
Where power had been consolidated within the Wali’s
of ce to produce a partially coordinated and highly
personalised political settlement, power was now located
across different provincial government departments
with weak lines of accountability and perverse incentive
structures. The dispersal of power created vacuums of
power, which local elites quickly took advantage of (see
Geiser, 2013 for an example of how this played out in
the forestry department). Following the merger, formerly
non-aligned Khans worked to reclaim land that the Wali’s
of ce had conscated. Under the old political system,
owning land had conferred the right to participate in jirgas
and extract rent and labour from tenant s. But the political
system and beliefs about how power should be exerted
8 PIUs are used to measure the productivity of land in Pakistan. Under this system, any 2 acres with the same PIU should be capable of producing approximately the
same revenue per year.
9 Interview with Sher Mohammed Khan, Senior Lawyer and former Judge at Peshawar High Court, in Saidu Sharif, 18 May 2018
10 Ibid.
11 By bureaucracy, we mean institutions of the state
were changing. Non- landowners suddenly had full voting
rights and, with this, a degree of political power. In 1970,
Z.A. Bhutto—aware of the issues that were affecting the
rural poor—launched his election campaign advocating
social welfare, labour protection and land reform. He won,
and in 1972 passed a land reform regulation (Martial Law
Regulation 115). The response in Swat was dramatic.
Tenants, anticipating land reform, stopped paying rent
(Nichols, 2013). Groups of tenants engaged in armed
confrontation with landlords (Barth, 1981), sometimes
successfully claiming land. In some villages, up to 42% of
land was claimed by gujars, although these claims are still
being contested in cour t (Khan, 2009).
As per Martial Law Regulation 115, any person with an
area equivalent to 15,000 Produc e Index Units (PIUs)8
was required to surrender it to the state. The landowner
received some compensation and could retain an area
equivalent to 3,000 PIUs. The state then sold the land
to tenants at a subsidised price (Herring and Ghapfar
Chaudhry, 1974). However, land claims made during
this time in Swat are still held up in cour t.9 Part of the
problem was that the state legal system had not been
implemented following the merge. The old customary
system was not suitable for executing such a radical
change in land ownership. In the 1977 elections, formerly
aligne d and non-aligned Khans uni ted by an interest in
protecting their property rights supported a Deobandi
party, the Jamaat-i-Ulema-i-Islam (JUI), which defended
private property rights (Nichols 2013). In the 1977
elections, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, supported by JUI, won
on the basis of a conservative religious ideology that
protected landlords’ rights. Claims on land using Martial
Law Regulation 115 continued to be made ineffectually
in different courts, which gave rise to a complex system of
bribery in the arbitration of land disputes.10
Alongside organising politically to protect their property
rights, Khans worked to capture parts of the judiciary
and the bureaucracy.11 Having held job s in the Wali’s
administration, members of formerly aligned Khan families
were well placed to get jobs in the new administration. As
Khans were subject to the same laws as everyone else in
the newly merged Swat state, formerly competing Khan
families were incentivised to work together to reinvigorate
Why services won’t always buy legitimacy: everyday experiences of the state in Swat, Pakistan
7
the jirga and regain control over legal rulings.12 They
negotiated with members of the provincial government
to change the system, arguing that the Pakistani legal
system was not appropriate for tribal areas. In 1975, the
provincial government introduced Provincially Administered
Tribal Area (PATA) criminal and civil codes in the Malakand
division, under which Swat falls. These effectively took
power away from the regular courts and reinforced the
jirgas, which the Khans controlled.13
Under PATA, the magistrate referred cases to the jirga
under the super vision of a tahsildar (revenue ofc er, a
position dating from the Wali’s administration) (Hussain,
2007). Once the jirga had heard the case, the magistrate
implemented its decision.14 Any appeal was referred to
the deputy commissioner and the North West Frontier
Province home secretary (Hussain, 2007). This system
ensured legal power was controlled by a combination
of the lande d elite, the revenue ofcer and the deputy
commissioner (part of the executive). Meanwhile, the
integration of the jirgas into the formal legal system
inevitably led to delays, which allowed Khans to position
themselves as brokers for what was quickly becoming a
dysfunctional legal system.
In the 1960s and 1970 s, marginal groups began
migrating to larger Pakistani cities, such as Karachi,
where there were opportunities to work in the textile
industr y (Khan, 2009); in the 1980 s, migration began to
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (Khan, 2009;
Geiser, 2013). Although the extent to which remittances
led to the rise of a new middle class in Swat is debatable,
there is evidence that remittances came to form a major
part of income for many households in Swat, especially in
the mountainous areas (Steimann, 2006). Ahmad (1991)
notes that low-level lineages in Pashtun hierarchies saw
employment abroad and the economic activities at home
as an avenue of escape from their positions in society.
With new sources of income, former tenant farmers were
able to buy land but, in the face of a legal system that
continued to disenfranchise lower classes, they could
not get registration papers to formalise their purchases.
Meanwhile in the 1980s, Mullahs active in the Deobandi
movement, a revivalist Sunni movement, began receiving
funding from Saudi Arabia, Arab religious organisations
and from migrants returning from the Gulf states to set
12 Ibid.
13 Interview with Akhtar Waheed Khan, President of District Bar Association, Swat, in Saidu Sharif, 17 May 2018; interview with Sher Mohammed Khan, Senior
Lawyer and former Judge at Peshawar High Court, in Saidu Sharif, 18 May 2018
14 Interview with Akhtar Waheed Khan, President of District Bar Association, Swat, in Saidu Sharif, 17 May 2018
15 Ibid.
up madrassas and mosques in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
(Gazdar, Kureshi and Sayeed, 2015).
On the legal side, lawyers from the Pakistan Bar
Association started to contest the jirgas and the inuence
of what they referred to as ‘tribal law’ on the formal legal
system.15 In the late 1980s, they submitted a petition
to Peshawar High Court to abolish the PATA Regulation.
In 1990, Peshawar High Court ruled in their favour. The
federal government then appealed in the Supreme Court,
which ruled four years later that the PATA Regulation was
unconstitutional. But by that stage, the socioeconomic
changes in Swat which gave rise to a new middle class,
that suppor ted a reinvigorated Islamist movement
ultimately overtook efforts to instate a legal system that
was more in line with the rest of Pakistan.
Islamist political alliances such as Muttahida Majlis-e-
Amal (MMA) and militant groups such as Tehreek-e-Nifaz-
e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) and Tehreek-e-Taliban
Pakistan (TTP) successfully articulated a vision for an
alternative order based on Islamist principles. TNSM built
its support on criticism of two issues vital to society: the
judicial system imposed by PATA and the corrupt electoral
and political system of Pakistan (Khan, 2009). When
the Supreme Court in 1994 ruled the PATA Regulation
unconstitutional, TNSM demanded the imposition of
sharia law. In a sign of TNSM’s new power, the provincial
government agreed to the introduction of the Sharia
Nizam-i-Adl Ordinance, which required all courts to seek
the assistance of a qazi to pass verdicts. However, TNSM
continued to argue that the application of sharia law was
insufcient and to lobby the federal government.
In 1999, the federal government promulgated the Sharia
Nizam-i-Adl Regulation 1999, further increasing the
clerics’ inuence in the courts. These changes in the
political settlement resulted in a hybrid political system
incorporating aspects of a legal system based on
English common law and aspects of sharia. There was
widespread support for these changes among different
groups in Swat, particularly those who in the past had
been excluded from the political settlement and were
not served by a legal system that combined jirgas and
formal courts in a dysfunctional way (BBC, 2009).
However, tensions continued between representatives
8
of the courts, the qazis and members of the jirgas. With
such competing interests groups, it was difcult for the
state to legitimate its power with a unied narrative.
The form of Nizam-i-Adl was renegotiated in 2008
between the Government of Pakistan and the Pakistan
Taliban, and a more extensive role for the application
of sharia law was agreed. The agreement was brokered
by small landowners and business owners, and allowed
excessive power through open-ended sharia, which was
essential to meet the rising expectations of non-elites
(Khan, 2009). However, the United States—worried that
a precedent would be set that would have repercussions
in Afghanistan—pressurised the Pakistani state to
intervene militarily.
One interpretation of the rise of the Taliban in Swat in
2007 and 2008 is that it was an uprising by the lower
classes against the landed elite, the state and its
representatives (e.g. Khan, 2009; Nichols, 2013). In
a survey conducted by the Regional Institute of Policy
Research and Training, 45% of respondents were of the
opinion that the spread of militancy was owed to class
differences (Aziz and Helge, 2010).16 Even the grandson
of Mian Gul Jehanzeb, the last Wali of Swat, admitted
that the Taliban received covert support from the
oppressed community – namely, the servants of Khans
who felt disgruntled and subjugated.17
Another interpretation is that the state had failed
to legitimate the hybrid political system that it had
negotiated with TNSM. Since the merger with Pakistan
in 1969, there have been two main uprisings in Swat.
In the early 1970s, representatives of the state were
not specically contested, but rather large landowning
Khans who represented the old political system. In
the uprising of 2007/08, TNSM and TTP contested the
legitimacy of the formal and informal legal system, and
the democratic electoral system. Khans were once
again attacked, including the old political system that
they represented and the places where jirgas were held.
Representatives of the state were also targeted, and
symbols of the state, such as schools and hospitals,
destroyed (Av is 2016). Access to land emerged again
as an unresolved issue. However, access to basic
services such as education, health and water were not
raised during either uprising, which potentially indicates
that basic service provision is not part of how state
16 The survey included in-depth interviews with district ofcials and key informants, focus group discussions and a questionnaire survey of 384 random households.
17 Interview with Mian Gul Adnan Aurangzeb, grandson of Mian Gul Jehanzeb, in Saidu Sharif, 6 July 2018
18 Also mentioned during interview with Adnan Sher, Consultant and researcher from Swat, in Islamabad, 8 December 2018.
legitimacy is negotiated in Swat. What we do not know
is whether a more efcient delivery of basic services to
lower classes would have consolidated more support
for the state, even in the face of a dysfunctional and
exclusionary legal and political system.
2.3 Political settlement in Swat, 2008–2018
In many ways, the 2008 uprising by the Taliban did shift
parts of the political settlement. Many Khans lost land,
their houses and their servants. Some have struggled to
reassert their position. Wealthier Khans ed the conict
and have since settled in major cities such as Peshawar
and Islamabad (Elahi 2015).18 Meanwhile, returnee
migrants and the middle class continue to buy land
and increase their access to alternative sources of rent
besides land.
However, the uprising did not empower the lower classes
but rather partially replaced the traditional elites with a
renewed state presence. In the initial years following the
conict, the military worked to regain control of the use
of violence in Swat while explicitly displaying the state’s
power by reopening schools and health clinics. This was
perhaps the rst time the state had actively worked
to legitimate its power by increasing access to basic
services.
Once again, the judiciary was captured, this time by the
military. From 2009 to 2013, the military implemented
martial law in Swat. Whether the state succeeded in
legitimating its use of repression and violence against
the population is an extremely sensitive topic and
difcult to research directly. The military played a role
in food and goods distributions and managing refugees
during the oods in 2010, but was unprepared to
respond to the scale of the disaster (Orakzai, 2011).
Support for the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement in Swat
– a human rights movement that demands more
accountability for military and police activities in Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa province – indicates that the military did
not succeed in fully legitimating its presence.
In 2013, the military ofcially handed authority of
Swat back to the civilian government; however, it has
remained in Swat, and indeed continues to occupy
some institutions, such as hospitals. The military has
developed connections with the construction and
Why services won’t always buy legitimacy: everyday experiences of the state in Swat, Pakistan
9
tourism industry, thus further asserting its position
within the Swat political settlement. Since the ofcial
handover, the bureaucracy and local government
have worked to reassert their presence by redeploying
teachers and health care staff. The SLRC panel survey
revealed that people were more satised with basic
services including education and health in 2015
compared with 2012.
Meanwhile, there are some indications that the
bureaucracy has gained increased control over the
provision of justice. Jirgas have effectively been
replaced by Dispute Resolution Councils (DRCs), which
use alternative dispute resolution approaches to resolve
civil cases referred by the police. DRCs were integrated
into the formal legal system in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
in 2014. Unlike in the jirgas, members of the DRCs are
selected by district police ofcers and include mostly
retired senior civil servants with relevant experience.
While many civil servants may be Khans, the DRCs
represent a way for the bureaucracy to have more
inuence over informal justice systems in Swat.
Although the traditional landowning, saintly and
merchant classes suffered losses during the Taliban
uprising, they remain central to the reproduction of
the political settlement and so are located inside the
political settlement. Non-landowners now rely less
on landowners and have more access to alternative
sources of revenue (through migration). They have
also gained political power through political parties
representing their interests. A sign of their increasing
power is that the state initially worked to appease these
groups when they demanded an alternative justice
system not captured by elites in the 1990s and early
2000s.
The violent repression that certain groups experienced
from the state between 2007 and 2008 once again
excluded them from the political settlement. In this
study, we therefore classify all interviewees who were
not Khans, Sayeeds, Mians or Parachas as ‘outsiders’.
The next section explores the role services play in how
insiders and outsiders experience and speak about the
state more broadly.
Inside the political settlement
Key: Outside the political settlement Marginal groups
Saintly class
Business class
Tenant farmers
Labourers
Service providers
Aligned Khans
Non-aligned Khans
Bureaucracy
Mullahs
Non-aligned Khans
Aligned Khans
Business class
Saintly class
Tenant farmers
Labourers
Service providers
Bureaucracy
Military
Mullahs
Tenant farmers
Labourers
Service providers
Mullahs
Non-aligned Khans
Office of the Wali
Saintly class
Business class
Aligned Khans
State institutions
Figure 1: The evolution of the political
settlement in Swat, Pakistan, during the
reign of Wali 1926 - 1969
Figure 2: Following the merge with the
Pakistani state 1970-2007
Figure 3: Following the Taliban
uprising 2013 - 2018
In the series of gures (Fig 1, 2 and 3), we attempt
to depict the changing position of different groups in
Swat according to whether they are inside the political
settlement, that is, co-opted by the governing authority
or outside the political settlement, meaning repressed by
the governing authority.
During the reign of the Wali, there were three main
positions that groups occupy in relation to the political
settlement: inside the inner circle (mainly co-opted),
inside the outer circle (mainly repressed), outside the
outer circle (no political power and therefore not a threat
to the political set tlement). Of course the reality is always
much messier than such a graphic depicts with members
of different groups experiencing co-option or repression
at dif ferent times . Mullahs were mostly out side the
political settlement but some who were willing to support
the Wali gained political inuence during the reign of
the Wali. There are also likely to be members of insider
groups who experienced state repression or members
of out sider groups who were co-opted. For example,
women who were members of Khan families benette d
from the position of their husbands and brothers in the
political settlement while at the same time experiencing
repression. None of this ner det ail is depicted here: the
purpose is to indicate broad trends within the political
settlement in Swat over time.
Following the merger with Pakistan, marginal groups
gained a degree of political power through universal
franchise. Mullahs who had not supported the Wali
increased their power thanks to funding from Saudi
Arabia, Arab religious organisvations and returnee
migrants from the Gulf states. To suppress this growing
power, the state alternated between co-option and
repression.
Following militar y inter vention, groups that had been
gaining power were strongly repressed, pushing them to
the outer edges of the political set tlement. The military
and the bureaucracy gained more control over how power
was exerted.
19 For more details on our sampling methods, see Annex 1.
20 See Annex 3 for a copy of the interview guide.
Using the insights from the political set tlement analysis,
we aimed to capture how representatives from different
groups across the political settlement experience and
imagine the state in Swat.19 In structured inter views we
asked individuals to recount an experience they had with
the state, and to identify three words that best described
the Pakistani state as well as what functions it should
perform..20
Based on our political settlement analysis, we categorised
all Khans, members of the saintly class (e.g. Sayeeds and
Mians) and business class (e.g. Parachas) as insiders and
everyone else as an outsider. The reality of course is much
more complicated than what our model predicts . Although
there was evidence that most Khans, Sayeeds, Mians and
Parachas were more likely to be co-opted than repressed,
there were several Khans who described coercive action
by the state, such as trafc nes for offences they claimed
not to have committed. It was clear from the interviews
that not just group memb ership, but also wealth inuences
how the state treat s you: In some instances, poorer Khan s
and Mians were refused hospital treatment because they
could not pay. For the purposes of this study, however, we
retained the categor y of insider for all Khans , Sayeeds,
Mians and Parachas as it is possible that the state used
a mixture of co-option and coercion with some subgroups
within the broader insider categor y. As Kelsall (2018)
notes, social groups are uid as new political and social
identities emerge or dissolve, disruptive potential waxes
and wanes, or new coalitions among groups get formed.
For our purposes, we were interested in the similarities
and differences in imagining and experiencing the state
among groups who hold different positions in the political
settlement.
3.1 How people imagine the state in Swat
Interviewees imagined the state in Swat in many ways, as
reecte d in the range of answers they gave to the quest ion:
‘What three words best describe the Pakistani state?’ The
most common word used was ‘selsh’, indicating a sense
that the state had betr ayed people. People often depicted
the state as unaware of poor people and concerned only
with enriching high-level civil servants and wealthy people.
Several interviewees used stepfamily analogies--such as
‘stepmother’, ‘stepfather’ or ‘stepbrother’--to capture the
cruel nature of the state. Others used family analogies such
as ‘mother’ to denote the positive aspects of the state, or
the sense of duty that they felt was due to the state.
3 Imagining and
experiencing the
state in Swat
11
12
My state is like mother to me; even if mother does
anything bad to us we don’t mind and hate her for
that. Same should be our attitude towards our state.
We should respect it no matter what (Factory worker,
insider group).
This quote from a poorer Khan is especially interesting.
Even though she indicates that the state sometimes
works against them, she believes that citizens should
continue to respec t the state. She prefers accepting the
current state—with aws—to contesting it.
3.1.1 The state as a provider of services,
infrastructure and welfare
There were more patterns in responses to the question:
‘What functions should the state perform?’ than to the
question ‘What three words best describe the Pakistani
state?’ The majority of insiders and outsiders imagined
the functions of the state in two main ways: one, as a
provider of services (education, health, water) and two, as
a provider of infrastructure (roads, electricity, gas).
Members of outsider groups were more likely to imagine
a stronger role for the state; in addition to basic services,
outsiders often thought that the state should provide for
the welfare of its people:
It is the responsibility of our state to provide us
with the basic human needs, like electricity, clean
drinking water and education. Why do we have to ask
for it? If we would have to ask for our basic needs,
what’s the purpose of State? (Housewife, outsider
group)
I don’t have gas, electricity, water. My house is in a
very pathetic condition, I want State to full all of my
needs. (Housewife, outsider group)
Some members of insider groups also thought the
state should look after the welfare of poorer people, not
because it was its duty but because this would make
Swat a safer place.
3.1.2 The state as a provider of jobs
Members of outsider groups were more likely to imagine
the state as a provider of jobs:
Job opportunities should be provided which may
enable people to ght for their rights. (Male tenant,
outsider group)
The current job in which I am employed is not
secure….the state should ensure secure jobs for us.
(Waiter, outsider group)
Poor people never get good job opportunities. There
are no respectable jobs for poor people. We want
the state to establish a factory here in Swat so many
people could work here and earn for their families.
(Housewife, outsider group)
Outsiders were also frustrated that, even with an
education, young people in Swat were not able to get a
job. They saw the state’s role as creating jobs for youth so
they would not be idle.
Insiders imagined the state more as a facilitator of trade
and business than as a creator of jobs. They imagined
the state’s role as providing subsidies for industry and
ensuring a stable and secure environment in which a
business could operate. There were some conicting
views on what would happen if the present government
under Imran Khan were to abolish Swat ’s tax- exempt
st atus. On the one hand, factor y owners feare d rising
costs and declining competitiveness if they were
required to pay corporation tax. On the other hand, some
interviewees from outsider groups thought that more
taxes for rich people should be introduced.
3.1.3 The state as a regulator
Across the different groups, interviewees also imagined
the Pakistani state as a regulator – an entity that ensured
services were not just delivered, but delivered correctly
and that takes responsibility for urban and rural living.
This included regulating pollution, ensuring waterways
and streets were clean and controlling prices of basic
goods.
Many interviewees conjured up images of Swat in a
time gone by when there was no shortage of water as
people could drink water from the rivers. Interviewees
commented on how the rivers in Swat still gushed and yet
people had no clean water to drink. A common narrative
in the interviews associated the state with water pollution
and failure to maintain a standard of living that Swatis had
enjoyed in the past. Indeed, an acute sense of injustice
that the state had not been able to provide Swatis with
clean water was palpable. One woman bitterly compared
the situation with the highly symbolic war when Hussein,
the Prophet’s grandson, fought Yazid, the Caliph in 680
AD in Karbala, present-day Iraq:
Why services won’t always buy legitimacy: everyday experiences of the state in Swat, Pakistan
13
The situation in Swat is worse than what happened
in Karbala. People in Karbala were not given water
for three days, but poor people of Swat have not been
given water and other facilities for year and years.
(Housewife, insider group)
3.1.4 The state as an upholder and protector of
moral values
Many interviewees imagined the state as a regulator
of social relations and as cultivating the right values in
Pakistani youth. People envisaged the state as having
a range of responsibilities, from building the character
of youth to deleting all pornographic content from the
internet. A common theme was that the state had a role
to play in promoting Islamic values among the population:
Since Pakistan is an Islamic State, so youth should
be brought up on the Islamic fundamentals. We
think that Islam is conservative but it actually isn’t.
We need to show the true picture of Islam. (Female
lawyer, insider group)
States can only be successful if they have a code
of conduct and some rules and regulation. These
rules and code of conduct are being given by Allah,
through different prophets. We should make Islamic
leaders our ideals and should follow them. (Female
social worker, insider group)
Several women imagined the state as being responsible
for providing ‘women-only’ places to work and socialise.
But these views were not shared across the board, and
it was clear there were differences about the extent to
which the state should uphold Islamic values.
3.1.5 The state as a maintainer of peace
Finally, the state was perceived as responsible for
maintaining peace. Some people commented that if the
state could not keep peace and ensure security for its
citizens, it was useless.
In summary, across outsider and insider groups, there
were common beliefs about what functions the state
should perform – mainly the provision of basic services
and infrastructure to allow people to live modern lives
with electricity and ease of travel. Insiders tended to
imagine the state more as a regulator of the physical and
economic environment, controlling pollution and ensuring
nancial stability.
In contrast, outsider groups, which are more distant
from the state, emphasised an image of the state as an
all-powerful entity that could provide them with complete
welfare. The state in their descriptions was more of an
entity that could provide a good environment to live in
but instead had squandered its resources on itself, by
enriching certain people connected to it.
This difference in perspective is perhaps understandable.
Considering the blurred line between state and society,
and that members of insider groups are more likely to
be closer to the state, it is conceivable that insiders will
be more likely to see the importance of the state as a
regulator of relations between the state, semi-state
entities and society.
3.2 How people experience the state in Swat
While there were signicant overlaps in the way that insider
and outsider groups imagined the state, there was more
divergence in the way these group s experience d the state.
Older male members of insider groups were more likely
to say that their experience of the state now compared
negatively with their experience of the state under the
Wali Swat:
Swat was second most peaceful district on the
Sub-Continent with a lot of success stories, even
though there was authoritarian rule. If there was
any instability, the Government did not play a role. I
am not against the Government of Pakistan and its
actions in Swat, but for what means and with what
number of sacrices? (Member of a Khan family,
insider group)
This member of a Khan family is referring to the space
the Wali afforded powerful Khans to resolve conicts
themselves. In other stories of the state during the time
of the Wali, members of Khan families appreciated the
involvement of the Wali or his high-level administrators
in mediating conict and judging disputes. The Wali
judged cases in favour of Khan families that supported
his reign (Sultan-i-Rome, 2008) so, understandably,
aligned families remember his adjudication of cases
favourably. In stories recounted, the features of the
justice system under the Wali included efciency
– the disputes were resolved in one hearing – and
appropriateness of the ruling – cases were resolved in a
way that aligned with local values, and not according to
complex legislation and lengthy procedures. Of course,
as was argued in Section 3, following the merger the
14
actions of various Khans worked to impede the state
justice system.
3.2.1 Negotiating the bureaucracy
A recurrent theme in stories about the state told by
younger male members of both insider and outsider
groups was the negotiation of state bureaucracy.
Difculties involve d in registering proper ty and
businesses and obtaining compensation for damage
to proper ty during the conict were recounted. For
insiders, these stories often ended in the resolution of the
problem, more often than not with a bribe:
He [member of staff at the property registrar ofce]
said: “I am favouring you only, pay whatever you want
to pay but do pay.’ I paid him PKR 20,000 and got the
matter resolved. (Goods trader, insider group)
A silk factor y owner tried to pursue a property dispute
through legal channels but faced pressure from his
family to resolve the issue faster. He also found that
his business was suffering because of the amount of
time he was spending pursuing the matter through legal
channels. In the end, he decided to pay a bribe to get
the dispute resolved. Another businessman tried to get
compensation for damage done during the conict by
making a formal application. After receiving nothing, he
eventually bribed a member of staff at the administration
ofce PKR 30,000 and was compensated PKR 775,000.
However, bribes were not always the solution to
impasses. There were parts of the bureaucracy that were
unresponsive even to pressure from members of insider
groups. One man described ling complaints about
leaking pipes to the Water and Sanitation Services ofce s
and getting no response.
Men in outsider groups also talked of negotiating the
state bureaucracy, but their stories were less about the
ability to resolve the problem and more about feelings
of coercion. Often, the outcome was similar to what had
happened in the stories from insider groups – a bribe was
paid – but the men were more likely to feel targeted and
unfairly treated:
The police were not letting me go through even, after
too much insistence. I was asked to pay extra money
in the form of bribe to which I agreed. After paying the
money, I started my journey back to the destination.
(Pillow and blanket maker, outsider group)
There was a sense that if you did not have members of
insider groups (such as elders) to negotiate on your behalf
with the state, state ofcials could use brute force to
coerce you to pay a bribe. In one stor y, an unemployed
man told of how, when his nephews and son were in
Karachi working in a textile mill, they were arrested. As
they did not have access to elders in Karachi, he was
forced to pay a bribe to the police to get them released.
In another situation in Swat, two young men were
threatened by the local police chief as they were out
beyond the curfew. The men were able to avoid pay ing a
bribe by threatening to get the local elders involved.
Thus, while members of both insider and outsider groups
had been subjec t to bribery to access state ser vice s,
the nature of the experience was different. Members of
insider groups interpreted the bribes they paid as more
of a negotiation and a way to resolve the situation where
both sides benet, whereas members of outsider groups
experienced the requirement to pay bribes as more
onerous, presumably as they could not afford the bribe.
3.2.2 The poor state of the healthcare system
Stories about the poor functioning of public healthcare
system featured across all groups. For example, both
insiders and outsiders complained that, even if you had
money to pay for treatment, facilities were not available in
Swat. However, there were dif ferences in the focus of these
stories. Insiders tended to highlight the poor condition of
public healthcare services and how they chose to access
private services. A businessman, who expressed shock
at the waste and lack of regulation at the public hospital,
decided to move his father to a private hospital.
In some situations, insiders needed to access public
hospitals as private facilities were not always available
in rural areas. In these situations, insiders were able to
negotiate better treatment:
In government hospitals, we are given immediate
services and medicine is always arranged for us.
Two days before I went to a government hospital
in Mingora, where I was very satised with their
treatment (Member of a Khan family, Housewife,
insider group)
Once I went to a public hospital for the treatment of
my eyes. Something went inside my eyes and I was
hurting a lot. I kept on asking the doctor to check
my eyes, as eyes are always very sensitive part of
Why services won’t always buy legitimacy: everyday experiences of the state in Swat, Pakistan
15
body. The doctor didn’t know that I am daughter of
MPA [Member of Provincial Assembly]. They asked
rudely to sit down quietly and wait my turn, which
was ne, I should have waited for my turn but it was
hurting severely that I just could not wait. But when I
told them that I am daughter of MPA, all the doctors
gathered around me and started treating me like a
VIP. (Student, insider group)
In contrast, the dominant theme of stories from outsiders,
particularly female outsiders, about the public health care
system, was not the condition of healthcare services but
the bad treatment they had received from staf f.
When I go to hospital they never listen to us. Doctors
treat us nicely only if we have money. Other staff
judge our nancial status by our appearance and
treat us badly. If we wore expensive cloths and high
heels, they would treat us as VIPs but otherwise we
feel as if we are not human. (Female beautician,
outsider group)
Hospitals are the worst place to visit. They never treat
you as humans. They treat you on the basis of money
in your pocket. I never have enough money to give
them that’s why I get scared of going to hospitals
and prefer sitting at home. (Female sharecropper,
outsider group)
Male outsiders were less likely to recount stories of bad
treatment in hospitals, highlighting instead the fact that
they had to pay for medicines and syringes themselve s.
3.2.3 Treatment by service providers
Insiders not only accessed preferential treatment
in hospitals and health clinics but also were able to
negotiate better treatment across a range of public
institutions.
We are rich community of Swat, so when we go to
any state institution for anything we are treated
nicely. (Member of a Khan family, housewife, insider
group)
Around one month ago I went to NADRA [National
Database & Registration Authority] for my ID card.
Since one of my cousins works for NADRA so I didn’t
have to stand in queue and wait for my turn, rather
they directly served me before others standing in
queue. Whereas, other people who were waiting in
for so long for their turn were treated very rudely.
I felt bad about them. (Member of a Khan family,
student, insider group)
Many insiders were aware of the preferential treatment
they received because of their position. Some identied
the current system as discriminatory and expressed a
preference for state services that treated everyone
more equally.
The view from the other side looks ver y different. A
male tenant farmer described applying for one of twelve
positions with the Technical Education and Vocational
Training Authority. He was rejected on the basis that he
did not full the criteria. As he did full the criteria,
he led a complaint. This was two years ago. The
storyteller concluded:
There was money and other personal benets
involved [in the decision], which I was not able to
afford. (Male tenant farmer, outside group)
3.2.4 Competing structures of power
When asked for stories of the state, men from outsider
groups often talked about structures of power, rather
than interaction with the state bureaucracy. One man
described how ‘spies’ operating at a local cattle mart
charged an arbitrary tax to anyone who purchased an
animal. The spie s are the loc al maa who have captured
the cattle mart and operate to create a shadow state.
3.2.5 Limitations of state power
Returnee migrants often told stories that indicated
that they understood the Pakistani state as a power
structure that was responsible for protecting their rights
in other countries. Many of their stories were about
the high visa prices charged by travel agents (that are
supposed to be licensed by the state) and the poor work
conditions endured abroad. These migrants expected
the Pakistani state to enforce a minimum wage in the
countries where a large population of Pakistani citizens
works.
3.2.6 Experiencing the state as a woman
Of course, power is exerted in different ways across
groups. Yet in both insider and outsider groups, women
had less disruptive potential and less power to inuence
the political settlement. A woman’s position in the
16
Why services won’t buy you legitimacy: everyday experiences of the state in Swat, Pakistan
political settlement did not protect her from gender-
based discrimination. For instance, one insider woman
told a story about how an advertisement for a job in a
government department encouraged women to apply.
The woman got the job but found that it was not possible
to perform her duties as a monitoring and evaluation
ofcer with only 15 days of maternity leave.
3.2.7 Experiencing the state as an actor in
the conict
During the conict, both the state and the militants
used violence against the population. Although there
were plenty of exceptions, the militants in general
targeted Khans, attacking their houses and forcing
them to ee. In retaliation, members of Khan families
reported members of other groups to the military as
sympathisers. As a result, many outsiders experienced
direct bombing of their houses by the Pakistani military
and arrests of family members. When the army launched
a full attack on the Taliban in 2009, both insiders
and outsiders were forced to ee their homes. Many,
including Khans, have not received compensation for
the damage to their homes and property.
Many outsiders remain extremely distrustful of the
Pakistani state. Many outsiders felt so unsure about
their right to comment on the state that they refused
to describe an experience they had had with the state.
Among the female tenants interviewed were some who
did not trust anyone in authority, as their experiences
had be en negative.
As one per son put it:
We get scared of getting closer to state institutions,
so we don’t interact with them. If we are treated
badly, we don’t feel bad about it because we know
that’s how they are, and that’s how people with
authority should be. (Female tenant, outsider group)
In summary, outsiders described extreme difculty in
negotiating the state, either to access basic services
or secure documentation to protect their rights. Even
where the state succeeded in providing a service,
parts of this were often inacce ssible for po or people.
In hospitals, patients had to pay for all medicines
and syringe s. To get reg istration papers, bribes were
needed. In the wors t scenarios, poor people were
not seen by doctors or were treated with disrespect
as doctors assumed they were uneducated or would
not be able to pay for their treatment. Outsiders often
described the state as ‘only for the rich’.
Insiders’ experience of the state also did not match
their imagination of it, but they were mostly able to
mitigate the negative ef fect of poor- qualit y services.
Through accessing preferential treatment at state
institutions, bypassing the public system by accessing
private services or using illicit means, insiders did not
suffer the full effects of the disjuncture between how
they imagined and how they experienced the state.
To be sure, they could not always circumvent the
dysfunctional state: they also experienced crumbling
roads, polluted rivers and lack of health facilities.
The signic ant disjunc ture between how people imagined
and experienced the state in Swat is a cause for concern.
According to Beetham (2013), leg itimacy depends on
the extent to which power is exerted according to formal
or informal rules. For the rules to have any validity, they
must align with shared beliefs about how state power
should be exer ted. Through believing the state should
exert its power in one way, while experiencing its power in
another—contradictory--way, Swatis are likely to perceive
state power as delegitimised.
However, a number of factors temper the delegitimating
ef fec t of the disjuncture between how people imagine
and experience the state. The traditional landowning,
saitnly and business classes experience disjuncture
between what they imagine the state should do and how
the st ate actually exerts it s power. Yet the state continue s
to work to appease these groups through political
goodies such as zero corporate tax and opportunities to
maintain control over land through briber y. Member s of
outsider group s experience the disjuncture, but not the
accompanying appeasement. The stories of the state
eliciting bribes for services or arresting people without
procedure reveal a state that exerts its power through
coercion. With lower incomes, there are also limited
ways for outsiders to avoid the negative effects of poor
services. However, the military occupation and increased
state surveillance have subdued outsiders’ ability to
collectively organise and contest what they may perceive
as a delegitimised state.
The political settlement analysis in section 3 highlights
how different aspects of the exertion of state power
became hotly contested. These aspects included access
to land and a functioning justice system. Acces s to
basic services did not feature as a salient issue in the
negotiation of the political settlement. Indeed, following
the merge of Swat state with the rest of Pakistan, despite
access to free health care and increasing access to
education, non-elites took up arms and contested Khans’
power. The right to own land had bec ome the salient
issue for which people were willing to contest the status
quo, not access to healthcare and education. This means
that without addressing the problems within the justice
and land tenure systems , it will be difcult for the state to
legitimate its power to non- elites in Swat.
There have been attempts by the international community
to support the Pakistani government in reforming the
justice system. The United Nations Development Program
(UNDP), for example, has invested heavily in training of
court ofcials, increasing access to legal aid for non-
4 The outlook on
negotiating state
legitimacy in
Swat
17
Why services won’t buy you legitimacy: everyday experiences of the state in Swat, Pakistan
18
elites and supporting alternative dispute resolution
mechanisms. However, the approach has been largely
driven by a centralised vision of what a functioning legal
system looks like, rather than starting with the problems
and directly tackling some of the incentives that drive
perverse behaviour within the justice system (see
McCullough, 2017, for more details).
However, while acces s to land and a functioning justice
system have been salient issues in the negotiation of
the political settlement, it is possible that new points of
contestation are emerging. The most recent outward
contestation of the state was articulated by the Pashtun
Tahafuz Movement, which marched through Swat in early
2018. Although it is dif cult to obt ain reliable details on
this , it appears that several thousand Swatis joined this
march. In their stories of the state, several interviewees
told of arrests by the military without trial. According to
the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances,
there are currently 1,577 cases still pending. In interviews
with key informants, the estimate was much higher
at 6,000. Undoubtedly, some of these arrests were of
people with connections to the Pakist ani and Afghan
Taliban but the lack of transparency around the process
leaves families not knowing whether their sons are alive
or dead.
The way that people are treated when accessing services
contributes to a broader experience of the state. The
stories told by people across different groups in Swat
in 2018 indicate that the bureaucracy continues to
serve the interests mainly of inuential Khans. These
experiences are likely to feed a narrative that the
Pakistani state is only for wealthy people and that the
way to build a state that treats all people equally and
without bias is to introduce sharia, a narrative that
militant groups such as TNSM and the Pakistani Taliban
promote. Thus, while basic services such as access
to healthcare, education and water are currently not
the main sites over which the legitimacy of the state is
contested, the experiences that people have of the state
through accessing basic services conrms the narrative
that militant groups promote, thus fuelling narratives that
ultimately delegitimize the state.
Of course, in any society, there will never be complete
agreement about the justication of political power, but
it is possible that the divergences in the way people in
Swat imagine and experience the state are large enough
to produce very different perceptions of state legitimacy.
In its post-conict response, the Pakistani government,
supported by the international community, has not
invested much in negotiating a shared vision of the state.
In fact, despite the conict being about the form the
state should take, the post-conict response has been
dominated largely by a focus on state reconstruction and
improving the outreach of services. This approach reects
the assumption that people in Swat perceive the state
not as representing an ideology but as a set of institutions
that deliver certain services.
The impact of this effort is evident from the survey
ndings: people reported greater acces s to services
such as education and health. However, state legitimacy
is not a phenomenon that emerges on the basis of a
transaction – that is, if citizens gain access to a service,
they will consider the state legitimate. The evidence
collected during this research indicates that, while people
may have increased access to services, those services
are being reconstructed to once again benet those from
the traditional landowning, saintly and merchant classes.
In this way, the fundamental disjuncture between how
outsiders imagine the state and how they experience it
has not been resolved.
Donors face competing priorities in Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa. On the one hand, there is a need to
preserve the stability that has been achieved in most
areas over the past eight years. On the other hand, this
stability is based on the repression of certain groups
who contested the state in 2008/2009, and these
repressive actions limit the possibility for negotiating
state legitimacy with those groups.
All forms of power relations, including those between
citizens and the state, involve negative features such
as exclusion, restriction and compulsion. These actions
need justication if the state is to enjoy moral authori ty
as opposed to merely de facto power, or validity under
a given system of law. However, the state may not need
to legitimate its negative use of power to all groups in
a polity. It may be pos sible to control those out side the
poli tic al settlement through repression alone. In fact, it
is likely that the state will need to do more to jus tif y its
repressive actions to those inside the political settlement,
as these groups can contest power more easily. This
approach worked relatively well during the Wali’s reign
when many groups had no political power at all. With
the merging of the state and the granting of universal
franchise, groups who had formerly been marginal gained
some political power. There was also a shift in the ows
of resources as non-land owning groups started to earn
more money through migrating to Arab and East Asian
countries. The ow of funding from Saudi Arabia and
Arab religious organisations to Deobandi madrassas
and mosques allowed Mullahs to promote their vision
of a new moral order, facilitated by an Islamic state. By
the 1990s, representatives of the state were working
to justif y state power to groups tradit ionally outside
the political settlement by negotiating alternative laws
for Swat. However, with the thre at of losing control of
violence to the Taliban in strategic areas and pressure
from the United States, in 2008, the state reverted to
controlling outsider groups through force. The state could
not maintain a permanent military presence in Swat and
by 2013 handed governance back to a civilian provincial
government. While the state has gained a monopoly
over the use of force in Swat, the task of legitimating the
state to groups outside the political settlement remains
unnished. To limit the appeal of narratives produce by
TNSM and the Pakistani Taliban, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Government and the wider state of Pakistan now needs to
negotiate its legitimacy with outsider groups.
The research ndings highlight the non-transactional
quality to state legitimacy. Legitimacy is not based on
the state performing certain functions and then people
5 Conclusions and
implications
19
20
acquiescing to the state in return. Legitimacy is better
captured as a form of negotiation over what can be
described as ‘hot’ functions. If a state function is not a
site over which legitimacy is negotiated, improvements
in access or quality are unlikely to make a difference to
the overall legitimacy of the state. If, on the other hand,
‘hot functions are addressed in a sensitive way, then
the legitimacy of the state can be suppor ted. Poli tic al
settlement analysis can contribute to the identication of
‘hot functions. To leg itimate it s power in Swat, the state
needs to address at least some of the hotly contested
issues raised by repressed groups, including access to
land and a functioning justice system. Reform of the land
tenure and justice system will be resisted by Khans and
other elites, so initiatives need to target areas where
there is some traction and space for change. In this way,
small incremental changes can be achieved that are less
likely to be destabilising.
The emerging issue of the unaccountability of the
military will be a very sensitive area for donors to try and
inuence. Yet a focus on addre ssing the factors that
incentivise corrupt and disrespectful behaviour among
civil servants would contribute to changing the way
that citizens experience other parts of the bureaucracy.
Improving the treatment of citizens by civil servants will
avoid fuelling Pakistani Taliban and TNSM narratives
about the state as oppressive, corrupt and only serving
the interests of the wealthy. Reforming the way that
service providers treat citizens will require a politically
smart approach to changing behavioural incentives.
5.1 Recommendations
Recommendation 1: Focus efforts on addressing
the problems in state functions that are salient in the
negotiation of legitimacy in Swat: land registration
and the justice system.
In each context, different state functions will hold
different meanings with some state functions being
more salient in the negotiation of state legitimacy. In
Swat, land registration and an inefcient justice system
are two state functions that people outside the political
settlement are willing to take up arms to contest.
Without addre s sing the issues preventing the state
from performing these functions, state legitimacy will be
21 hp://www.worldbank.org/en/research/dime/brief/Bureaucracy-Lab
difcult to achieve among groups outside the political
settlement.
Recommendation 2: Include indicators of how people
are treated when measuring the success of service
delivery programmes
Achieving change in how civil servants treat people
from less prominent classes involves addressing
the incentive s driving civil servant behaviour. Too
often, governments and international development
agencies rely on easy-to-measure tangible indicators
of improvement in terms of the reach of services, for
example numbers of new doctors recruited, numbers
of patients treated, numbers of cases resolved through
the courts, etc. However, if we measure only tangible
indicators, we end up with very limited understanding
of how people experience services. Of course, devising
indicator s of resp ectful treatment will be dif cult.
However, in a post-conict society such as Swat,
monitoring how people are treated through service
delivery is a worthwhile investment. The Bureaucracy
Lab21 funded by the World Bank represent s an
opportunity for developing new indicators and collecting
representative data.
Recommendation 3: Treat reform of the bureaucracy
as a political process and invest in politically-informed
programmes that aim to adjust incentive structures
rather than provide training and capacity building
It is likely that there are organisational factors driving civil
servants’ behaviour. Studies of the Pakistani bureaucracy
highlight the burden on civil servants, high levels of
inefciency in organisational structures and lack of
incentives to improve performance. At the same time,
a large proportion of the post-conict reconstruction in
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has focused on capacity-building
and training of civil servants, with little emphasis on
reforming the perverse incentives driving much of
civil ser vant behaviour. To address the disrespectful
behaviour of civil servants towards less prominent
classes, incentives need to be understood and initiatives
taken to create new incentives. Bureaucratic reform
is a highly political process, so programmes aiming to
address this issue will need to be politically informed and
have a long time horizon.
References
21Researching livelihoods and services affected by conict
Ab ra ms, P. (197 7) ‘No te s on the
di fc ul ty of study in g th e sta te
Journal of Historical Sociology 1 (1):
58–89
Ahmad, A. (1991) Resistance and
control in Pakistan. Cam br idge, UK:
Cambridge Universit y Press
Avis, W. (2016) Drivers of conict
in the Swat Valley, Pakistan.
Birmingham: Governance and Social
Development Resource Centre,
University of Birmingham
Az iz , K. and Helge, L. (20 10) ‘Swat:
main causes of the rise of militancy’.
Policy Brief 10. Oslo: Norwegian
Institute of International Affairs
Barth, F. (1959) Political leadership
among Swat pathans. London: The
Athlone Press
Ba rth , F. (198 1) ‘Swat pat ha ns
reconsidered’ in F. Barth (ed.)
Features of p erson and society in
Swat: collected essay s on pathans:
253–273. London: Routledge
BBC (2009) ‘Swat Taleban nd
sharia a challenge’ (http://news.
bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_
asia/7959100.stm)
Beetham, D. (2013) The legitimation
of power. Basingstoke: Palgrave
Macmillan
Ci or ci ar i, J.D. an d Kr asner, S.D .
(2018) ‘Con tr act in g ou t, legi ti ma cy,
and state building’ Journal of
Intervention and Statebuilding 12(4) :
484–505
Elahi, N. (2015) ‘Militancy conicts
and displaceme nt in Swat Valley of
Pakistan: analysis of transformation
of social and cultural network’
International Journal of Humanities
and Social Sc ience 5(3): 226–236
Gazdar, H., Kureshi, Y and Sayeed,
A. (201 5) . ‘Th e Ri se of th e Ji ha di
Militancy in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas’
in A. Sunda r and N. Sundar (ed s)
Civil Wars in S outh Asia. State,
Sovereignty, Development. New
Dehli: Sage Publications.
Ge is er, U. (2013) ‘P ro du cing civil
society, ignoring Rivaj. International
donors, the state and development
interventions in Swat’ in B. Hopkins
and M. Marsden (eds.) Beyond Swat.
History, society and economy along
the Afghanistan Pak istan frontier:
163–178 . Lo nd on: C. Hur st & Co.
Godamunne, N. (2015) The role of
social protection in state legitimacy
in the for me r co nict are as in Sr i
Lanka. Secure Livelihoods Research
Commission Report 6. London:
Overseas Development Institute
He rr in g, R. and Gh apfar Chaudhr y,
M. (1974) ‘T he 1972 lan d re fo rms
in Pakistan an d their economic
implications: a preliminary analysis’
The Pakistan Development Review
13(3): 245–279
Hussain, K. (2007) ‘The truth about
PATA Regulation’ (http://www.
valleyswat.net/articles/pata_
regulation.html). Ac ce sse d 15 th Apr il ,
201 9.
Khan, S. (2009) ‘Imperialism,
religi on and cla s s in Swa t’
International Socialism 123: 21–26
Kr as ner, S.D. and Riss e, T. (201 4)
‘External actors, state-building,
and service provision in are as of
limited sta tehood: introduction:
external acto rs, state-building, and
service provision’ Governance 27(4):
545–567
Levi , M. (201 8) ‘Th e wh o, wha t,
and why of performance-based
legitimacy’ Journal of Intervention
and Statebuilding 12(4): 60 3– 610
Mc Cu ll ough, A. (2017) . Th e
Challenge of Jus tice Reform in
Fragile Contexts: Focus on Justice
Prog ramm e s in Pakis tan. Part of a
Justice Capitalisation Exercise for
the Swiss Agency for Development
and Cooperation. Overseas
Development Institute.
Migdal, J. (2009) ‘Studying the state’
in M.I . Ir ving and A. Zuc ke rm an (ed s.)
Comparative politic s: rationality,
culture, and structure: 208–235.
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge
University Press
Mitchell, T. (1991) ‘The limits of the
state: beyond statist approaches
and their critics’ The American
Political S cience Review 85 (1):
77– 9 6
Moro, L., Santschi, M., Gordon,
R. , Dau, P. and Ma xwell, D. (2017)
Statebuilding and legitimacy
experienc es of South Sudan.”
Secure Livelihoo ds Research
Consortium Report 15. London:
Overseas Development Institute
Nich ol s, R. (2013) ‘C las s, st at e an d
power in Swat conict’ in B. Hopkins
and M. Marsden (eds.) Beyond Swat.
History, society and economy along
the Afghanistan Pak istan frontier:
13 5–14 6. Lon do n: C. Hu rst & Co.
Nixon, H. and Mallett, R. (2017)
Service delivery, public perceptions
and state le gi timacy: nd in gs fro m
the Secure Livelihoods Re search
Consortium. London: Overseas
Development Institute
OECD – Organisation for Economic
Co-oper ation and Development
(2010) The state’s legi timacy
in fragile si tuations: unpacking
complexity. Paris : OECD
Orakzai, S.B. (2011) ‘Conict in the
Swat Valley of Pakis tan: Pakhtun
culture and peacebuilding t heory-
practice application’ Journal of
Peacebuilding & Development 6(1):
35–48
Pl owde n, T. (1875 ) ‘S elect ions from
the Tarikh-i-Muras s’a of Afzal Khan,
c. 1700 A .D ’ in T. Plowden (ed.)
Translations of the Kalid- i-Afghani.
Lahore: Cent ral Jail Press
Population Census of Pakistan
1972: Dis tr ict Cen sus Repor t Sw at .
Karachi: Manager of Publications,
Gove rn me nt of Pa ki sta n, 1975
Sh ahba z, B., Sul er i, A. , Al i, M. an d
Khan, H. (2017) Tracking change
in livelihoods, service deliver y and
governance: evid ence from a 2012-
2015 panel survey in P akistan.
Secure Livelihoo ds Research
Consortium Working Paper 52.
London: Overseas Development
Institute
Steimann, B. (2006) ‘Rural
livelihoods in a highland -lowland
context and t he role of forest
re so ur ces (NW FP, Pakis tan) in
Sustainable Development Policy
Institute (ed.) Troubled times:
sustainable development and
governance in an age of extreme s:
44–65. Islamabad: City Press
Stollenwerk, E. (2018) Securing
legitimacy? Perceptions of security
and IS AF ’s leg itima cy in no rth ea st
Afghanistan’ Journal of Intervention
and Statebuilding 12(4): 50 6– 526
Sultan- i-Rome (2008) Swat State
1915-1969. From genesis to
merger. An analysis of political,
administrative , socio-politic al and
economic developments. Oxford:
Oxford University Press
Sultan- i-Rome (2017) Social System
of the Swat Yusufz i, Hamdard
Islamicus, Vol. XL, No. 2, pp. 81-110
Annexes
22
Annex 1: Research methods
To carry out the political settlement analysis, Dr Shehryar
Khan and Aoife McCullough rst consulted historical
literature on the founding of the state in Swat. Based on
our review of the literature, we identied key informants
who would be able to provide us with insights as to
how the political settlement currently holds. These key
informants included representatives from the military,
representatives from the judiciary and other par t s of the
bureaucracy, members of the former ruling family and
the business class. We also sought out analysts of local
politics including historians and political scientists from
local universities (See Annex 2). To guide the interviews ,
we developed a semi-structured interview guide (see
Annex 3) tailored to the different types of interviewees.
Two memb ers of the SDPI team, Shehryar Khan and
Shujaat Ahmed carried out a series of initial interviews
in May 2018. The interviews were carried out in Pashto,
Urdu and English. Following a review of the inter view
transcripts, additional more in-depth interviews were
carried out in August 2018. The data was then analysed
by Shehr yar Khan and Aoife McCullough. Additional key
readings were consulted and the political settlement
analysis developed.
Based on the political settlement analysis, the team then
developed the sampling method and interview guide for
the 2nd part of the research. The team sought to sample
from groups positioned across the political settlement
including Khans, Parachas, mullahs, tenant farmers,
day labourer s and ser vice provider s. We also soug ht out
representatives of new political groups such as the new
Islamist political parties to balance out tendencies of
researchers working for Western agencies to interview
people who broadly support liberal democratic values.
We used structured interview guides with open-ended
questions designed not to pre-assume interviewees’
underst anding of the state (see Annex 4). Rubab Sayeed
and Shujaat Sayeed carried out a total of 79 interviews
between August and October 2018. Rubab carried out
interviews with female interviewees while Shujaat with
male inter viewee s. They used their cont acts in Swat to
acces s inter viewee s. This meant that the ini tial sample
was skewed towards the educated and elites. On the 2nd
round of interviews, the team sought to mitigate the bias
and acces s less educated interviewees. The nal sample
included 43 females and 36 males , 42 insiders and 37
outsiders.
Asking people questions about the state is highl y
sensitive in Swat. For this reason, we carefully
anonymized all inter view notes and dig ital records.
The data from the interviews on perspectives of the state
from within the interviewed social groups was coded
using MaxQDA. Coding was split between imaginations of
the st ate and experiences of the state. Demographic data
was saved in an excel sheet and used for reference.
Why services won’t always buy legitimacy: everyday experiences of the state in Swat, Pakistan
23
Annex 2: List of key informants for the political settlement analysis
Date Name Designation Venue Organization
17th May 2018 Akhtar Waheed Khan President Swat Swat Bar Association
Mr. Naveed Khan Former Police Ofcer and
Convener/Chairman
Swat Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police
and Dispute Resolution
Council
18th May 2018 Dr. Ghulam Subhani District Health Ofcer Swat District Health Ofc e, Swat
Syed Obaid Ullah Shah Additional Session Judge Swat Session Court Swat
19th May 2018 Sher Muhammad Khan Former Judge and Lawyer Swat Peshawar High Court
20th May 2018 Awais Dastagir Brigadier Swat Pakistan Army
Gohar Lecturer Malakand University of Malakand
2nd st July 2018 Haji Rasul Khan Convener/Chairman Swat Dispute Resolution Council
Swat
Awais Dastagir Brigadier Swat Pakistan Army
3rd July 2018 Sher Muhammad Khan Former Judge and Lawyer Swat Peshawar High Court
4th July 2018 Dr. Sultan-e-Rome Professor Swat Jahanzeb College Swat
5th July 2018 Representatives of Swat
Chamber of Commerce
(Focus Group Discussion)
President/Senior Vice
President
Swat Swat Chamber of Commerce
and Industry
6th July 2018 Mian Gul Adnan Aurngzeb Grand-Son of Wali-e-Swat Islamabad
30 th O ctober,
2019
Adnan Sher Consultant/researcher
in Swat
Islamabad
24
Annex 3: Suggested interview questions for key
informant interviews
Introduction to the research
In Pakistan, a survey was carried out in 2012 and 2015
in Swat and Lower Dir. We got useful ndings from
the survey but there are a few ndings that we don’t
underst and. For example, although people in Swat and
Lower Dir had more access to services and were more
satised with them in 2015 compared with 2012, they did
not have improved perceptions of government in context
of (trust in state institutions, capacity and governance). As
you know that “the state” playing a decisive or central role
in the provision of services/development/ transformation.
How the state is visualised and embraced by diverse
stakeholders is important to know how the state secures
(or attempts to) secure legitimacy from citizens .
Some of the key research questions include:
How to effectively support people to build more resilient
livelihoods as they recover from difcult circumstances?
How to build state capacities to deliver services and
social protection and support livelihoods?
Does supp ort to services = state leg itimacy dened as
citizens acceptance of state authority?
For this reason, we are carrying out some key informant
interviews to gain better insights into the relationship
between access to services and perception of
government. We really appreciate you taking the time
to speak with us and provide us with your invaluable
insights.
A. Military Command at Malakand
1 What should be the role of the state in livelihood
opportunities or the provision of social services in
Swat?
2 What are the main economic activities in Swat? Which
economic activities are currently the most protable?
Which groups have access to these activities?
3 Which groups/tribes are most likely to migrate? What
do they invest their money in?
4 What do you believe is impor tant in order to gain
citizen’s approval of the st ate in Swat ?
5 In what ways do different groups work to delegitimise
the state in Swat?
6 What is the milit ary’s role in building state legitimacy
in Swat?
7 Are there differences between different classes in
relation to what they consider ‘a legitimate state’? E.g.
differences between Yusufzai, Miangan, Pirs, Syeds,
Zamidars, Dehqan and Gujjars?
8 (Note: you could probe in terms of differences in
what values different groups believe the state should
uphold, what function different groups consider the
state should prioritise)
9 Doe s the milit ary have inuence over the composition
of the jirgas?
B. For Cour t Ofcials
1 What do you believe is impor tant in order to gain
citizen’s approval of the st ate in Swat ?
2 How do the courts contribute to building state
legitimacy in Swat?
3 What are the informal ways that people use to access
the courts in Swat?
4 Are there any group s who nd it difcult to acces s
the cour ts? What do they do to overc ome the se
difculties?
5 Are there differences between different classes in
relation to what they consider ‘a legitimate state’? E.g.
differences between Yusufzai, Miangan, Pirs, Syeds,
Zamidars, Dehqan and Gujjars?
6 (Note: you could probe in terms of differences in
what values different groups believe the state should
uphold, what function different groups consider the
state should prioritise)
7 Which classes/tribes are most likely to work in the
state courts in Swat?
8 Which classes/tribes are most likely to work in the
Qazi courts in Swat?
9 Which classes/tribes are most likely to work in the
DRCs in Swat?
10 Which classes/tribes are most likely to be members
of the jirgas in Swat?
11 In what ways do different groups work to delegitimise
the state in Swat?
12 D oes the Nizam I Adl Regulation affect the functioning
of the courts in Swat?
13 What type of cases did the Taliban prioritise during
their reign in Swat?
14 The National Judicial Policy prioritises cases involving
women, juveniles, rent disputes, stay orders, bail
matters, small claims and minor offences. Do you
think this lis t of prioritisation address people’s needs?
Are these types of cases prioritised in reality? (If no,
you could probe why not)
Why services won’t always buy legitimacy: everyday experiences of the state in Swat, Pakistan
25
Members of the DRC
1 Do delays in disputes resolution affects citizens
perceptions regarding the state, please elaborate.
2 Doe s the Nizam I Adl Regulation affect the functioning
of DRCs?
3 What type of cases did the Taliban prioritise during
their reign in Swat?
4 The National Judicial Policy prioritises cases involving
women, juveniles, rent disputes, stay orders, bail
matters, small claims and minor offences. Do you
think this lis t of prioritisation address people’s needs?
Are these types of cases prioritised in reality? (If no,
you could probe why not)
5 What do you believe is impor tant in order to gain
citizen’s approval of the st ate in Swat ?
6 Which classes/tribes are most likely to work in the
DRCs in Swat?
Land registr y Of ce
1 Which groups/classes/tribes are the main land
owners in Swat?
2 Are there any group s who nd it difcult to acces s
land to farm or buy? What do they do to overcome
these difculties?
3 Over the last 10 years, have any groups gained more
land or lost land? E.g. which groups investing more in
land? Which groups are selling land?
4 Can migrants from Swat working for example in the
Gulf afford to buy land in Swat?
5 What do you believe is impor tant in order to gain
citizen’s approval of the st ate in Swat ?
Business representatives
1 What are the main economic activities in Swat? Which
economic activities are currently the most protable?
Which groups have access to these activities?
2 (In the SLRC survey waves 1 and 2, it was found that
migration is the large st income source. In wave 2,
more people reported fruit picking/packing as their
main source of income)
3 What are migrants from Swat who work, for example,
in the Gulf, most likely to invest their earnings in?
What do you believe is imp ortant in order to gain
citizen’s approval of the st ate in Swat ?
4 Are there differences between different classes in
relation to what they consider ‘a legitimate state’? E.g.
differences between Yusufzai, Miangan, Pirs, Syeds,
Zamidars, Dehqan and Gujjars?
5 (Note: you could probe in terms of differences in
what values different groups believe the state should
uphold, what function different groups consider the
state should prioritise)
6 Which groups can inuence political decisions in
Swat? How do they inuence decision making?
7 What do you believe is impor tant in order to gain
citizen’s approval of the st ate in Swat ?
For political philosophy/political scientists at Malakand Uni
1 Are there differences between different classes in
relation to what they consider ‘a legitimate state’?
E.g. differences between E.g. differences between
Yusufz ai, Miangan, Pirs, Sye ds, Zamidars, Dehqan
and Gujjars? (Note: you could probe in terms of
differences in what values different groups believe
the state should uphold, what function different
groups consider the state should prioritise)
2 What is the milit ary’s role in building state legitimacy
in Swat?
3 Does the military contribute to building state legitimacy
in different ways with different groups in Swat?
4 In what ways do different groups work to delegitimise
the state in Swat?
5 In what ways does the military work with different
groups to ensure that they do not work to delegitimise
the state?
6 What are the main economic activities in Swat? Which
economic activities are currently the most protable?
Which groups have access to these activities?
7 Which groups can inuence political decisions in
Swat? How do they inuence decision making?
8 Which classes/tribes are most likely to work in the
state courts in Swat?
9 Which classes/tribes are most likely to work in the
Qazi courts in Swat?
10 Which classes/tribes are most likely to work in the
DRCs in Swat?
11 Which classes/tribes are most likely to be
members of the jirgas in Swat?
12 Does the state use access to services to
keep some groups happy?
13 Are any groups excluded from particular
services in Swat?
14 Which groups have access to services directly and which
groups can only access services through power brokers?
15 Who benets from Zakat? How is Zakat used by
wealthier families in Swat?
26
For journalists/activists
1 Are there differences between different classes in
relation to what they consider ‘a legitimate state’? E.g.
differences between Yusufzai, Miangan, Pirs, Syeds,
Zamidars, Dehqan and Gujjars?
2 (Note: you could probe in terms of differences in
what values different groups believe the state should
uphold, what function different groups consider the
state should prioritise)
3 What is the milit ary’s role in building state legitimacy
in Swat?
4 Does the military contribute to building state legitimacy
in different ways with different groups in Swat?
5 In what ways do different groups work to delegitimise
the state in Swat?
6 In what ways does the military work with different
groups to ensure that they do not work to delegitimise
the state?
7 What are the main economic activities in Swat? Which
economic activities are currently the most protable?
Which groups have access to these activities?
8 Have the sources of rents changes since the
resumption of democratic governance (e.g. are
there more rents from development projects/state
infrastructure projects etc?
9 Which groups/tribes are most likely to migrate? What
do they invest their savings in?
10 Which groups can inuence political decisions in
Swat? How do they inuence decision making?
11 Which classes/tribes are most likely to work in the
state courts in Swat?
12 Which classes/tribes are most likely to work in the
Qazi courts in Swat?
13 Which classes/tribes are most likely to work in the
DRCs in Swat?
14 Which classes/tribes are most likely to be members
of the jirgas in Swat?
15 Were lower classes more likely to be members of
courts during the Taliban rule?
16 Does the state use access to services to keep some
groups happy?
17 Are any groups excluded from par ticular services
in Swat?
18 Which groups have access to services directly and which
groups can only access services through power brokers?
19 Does any group suffer from exclusion?
20 Who benets from Zakat? How is Zakat used by
wealthier families in Swat?
Representatives from the Miangul family
1 What do you believe is impor tant in order to gain
citizen’s approval of the st ate in Swat ?
2 In what way did the Miangul family achieve legitimacy
during their time in power? How is this different from
how the state achieves legitimacy in Swat?
3 What do you see as the Miangul family’s role in Swat
these days?
4 Do you think it s impor t ant for the MIangul family to
continue to work in politics? Why?
5 Which other families/tribes are active in politics?
6 What is the milit ary’s role in building state legitimacy
in Swat?
7 Does the military contribute to building state legitimacy
in different ways with different groups in Swat?
8 In what ways do different groups work to delegitimise
the state in Swat?
9 In what ways does the military work with different
groups to ensure that they do not work to delegitimise
the state?
MS/District Health Ofcial
1 What do you believe is impor tant in order to gain
citizen’s approval of the st ate in Swat ?
2 Does the provision of health services play an
important role in shaping citizens perceptions
concerning the state? If it does, how and why do you
think health services may accord greater acceptance
of establishing state legitimacy in Swat
3 In the household survey that we carried out in Swat
in 2012 and 2015, we found that an increase in
access to health services did not lead to improved
perceptions of government. Similarly, an increase
in satisfaction with health services did not lead to
improved perceptions of government. Do you have
any idea why this was so?
4 When people are unsatised with health ser vice s, in
what ways they express their concerns,
please elaborate.
5 Does the state use access to services to keep some
groups happy? Which services
6 Are any groups excluded from par ticular services
in Swat?
7 Which groups have access to services directly and which
groups can only access services through power brokers?
8 Does any group suffer from exclusion? If yes, please
elaborate reasons.
Why services won’t always buy legitimacy: everyday experiences of the state in Swat, Pakistan
27
District Education Ofcial
1 What do you believe is impor tant in order to gain
citizen’s approval of the st ate in Swat ?
2 Does the provision of education play an important
role in citizens’ perceptions concerning the state? If it
does, how and why do you think provision of education
may accord greater acceptance of establishing state
legitimacy in Swat?
3 In the household survey that we carried out in Swat in
2012 and 2015, we found that an increase in access
to education did not lead to improved perceptions of
government. Similarly, an increase in satisfaction with
education did not lead to improved perceptions of
government. Do you have any idea why this was so?
4 When people are unsatised with health ser vice s,
in what ways they express their concerns, please
elaborate.
5 Does the state use access to services to keep some
groups happy? Which services?
6 Are any groups excluded from par ticular services in
Swat?
7 Which groups have access to services directly and
which groups can only access services through power
brokers?
8 Does any group suffer from exclusion? If yes, please
elaborate reasons.
28
Annex 4: Emic perspectives of the state:
interview questions
Date
Location:
Name of interviewer:
Interviewee category and number:
Age:
Caste and subtribe:
Job:
Method of selection:
1 What are the most important func tions that the state
should perform in the context of Swat?
2 Follow up Q: Why ?
3 What words best describe the Pakistani state for you?
4 Can you recount a story of an experience you have
had with the state?
SLRC publications present information, analysis
and key policy recommendations on issues
relating to livelihoods, basic services and social
protection in conict affected situations.
This and other SLRC publications are available
from www.securelivelihoods.org. Funded by UK
aid from the UK Government, Irish Aid and the EC.
Disclaimer: The views presented in this
publication are those of the author(s) and do not
necessarily reect the UK Government’s ofcial
policies or represent the views of Irish Aid, the EC,
SL RC or ou r pa r tn ers . ©SLRC 2019.
Readers are enc ouraged to quote or reproduce
material from SLRC for their own publications.
As cop yri gh t ho lder SLRC reque sts due
acknowledgement.
Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium
Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
203 Blackf riars Road
London SE1 8NJ
United Kingdom
T +44 (0)20 3817 0031
F +44 (0)20 7922 0399
E slrc@odi.org.uk
www.securelivelihoods.org
@SLRCtweet
Cover photo: Suns et over the Mingora City,Swat
Valley, Pakistan. Imranrashid26, Wikimedia
Co mm on s, (CC BY- SA 3.0).
... The idea of legitimacy being purely transactional, however, has increasingly been called into question, particularly through the notion that 'substantive' legitimacy, based on values and resulting in the belief in an actor's authority, cannot be 'bought' simply by providing public goods or services (McCullough 2019(McCullough , 2020Weigand 2015Weigand , 2017Weigand , 2022. Even when receiving useful public services from an armed group or another authority, individuals do not necessarily believe that the authority has the right to rule. ...
Article
Full-text available
Armed groups tax. Journalistic accounts often include a tone of surprise about this fact, while policy reports tend to strike a tone of alarm, highlighting the link between armed group taxation and ongoing conflict. Policymakers often focus on targeting the mechanisms of armed group taxation as part of their conflict strategy, often described as ‘following the money’. We argue that what is instead needed is a deeper understanding of the nuanced realities of armed group taxation, the motivations behind it, and the implications it has for an armed group’s relationship with civilian and diaspora populations, as well as the broader international community. This paper builds on two distinct literatures, on armed groups and on taxation, to provide the first systematic exploration into the motivation of armed group taxation. Based on a review of the diverse practices of how armed groups tax, we highlight that a full account of their motivation needs to go beyond revenue collection, and engage with key themes around legitimacy, population control, institution building, and the performance of public authority. We problematise common approaches towards armed group taxation and state-building, and outline key questions of a new research agenda.
... It has been argued that project aid can contribute to the delegitimisation and hollowing out of the state, whose ability to set policy priorities is greatly diminished as budgets are fragmented across multiple projects and directed by NGOs and development cooperation agencies, and donors poach capable national staff (see, for example, World Bank and UN, 2018: 250;Institute for State Effectiveness, 2018;Duffield, 2007: 170;Box 8). 29 Recent findings partly challenge this assumption, indicating instead that the quality of services delivered, whether they are perceived as equitable and the existence of functioning measures for citizens to exercise accountability and participate in the delivery of services matter far more than whether it is the state that delivers them (Denney et al., 2015;McLoughlin, 2015; Jackson and Nemat, 2018;Cummings and Paudel, 2019;Gunasekara et al., 2019;McCullough et al., 2019). If project aid is not conflict-sensitive, it can also exacerbate inequalities by concentrating in more accessible areas, or otherwise failing to reach those most in need (World Bank and UN, 2018: 250). ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Set against a global context of rising violent conflict and the changing nature of conflict driven by a broad range of factors, including a wider spectrum of involved parties, this report considers lessons drawn from key literature on recent peace processes and multilateral settlements, and international donor support to such mechanisms.
Article
Power dynamics in local governance have profound implications for the outcomes of processes of political decentralisation within developing countries. Attempts to improve participation and service delivery through strengthened local and regional governance have been frustrated by the inability to understand and transform the relationship between power and formal and informal institutions. Through a theoretically informed empirical study of the relationship between power and institutions within local governance, this paper addresses this challenge through developing the notion of ‘power within’. Analysis of Batkhela Bazaar in the Malakand district in Pakistan reveals distinct fields of power relating to the market, political representation and local administration, and the evolving interactions between institutions within and across these fields. Results demonstrate how these fields of power, and the agents operating within them, actively shape the interaction between formal and informal institutions of local governance in a process of contiguous evolution. Understanding of ‘power within’ prompts revised thinking on how best to harness emergent institutional forms to promote progressive and inclusionary local governance and develop more effective state decentralization programmes.
Research
Full-text available
This report presents a summary of the findings from the second phase of the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium (SLRC) (2018–2020) on how state legitimacy needs to be re-evaluated by international development workers. The research highlights several insights regarding the relationship between services and state legitimacy: 1. State legitimacy is co-constructed, not transactional 2. Services become salient in the construction of legitimacy if they (re)produce contested distribution arrangements 3. Basic services may not necessarily break or make a state, but they provide ‘teachable moments’ 4. The state may not need to legitimate its power to all citizens in order to maintain its power The first phase of the research, between 2011 and 2017, featured a panel survey every three years from 2012. The survey was carried out twice in Sri Lanka and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and three times in Pakistan, Nepal and Uganda. During the second phase, in-depth qualitative research in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal sought to understand some of the unexpected findings from the panel survey and qualitative studies in SLRC’s first phase. The third round of the survey included additional questions that captured people’s perceptions of state legitimacy, as opposed to just perceptions of government. This allowed us to draw more conclusions about the relationship between services and state legitimacy, and propose a set of implications to consider when designing programmes to support state legitimacy.
Article
This concluding article summarizes the main arguments and contributions of the special issue on virtuous circles of governance in areas of limited statehood. Furthermore, the article points out directions for future research. I argue that in order to understand virtuous circles of governance adequately we need to pay more attention to power dynamics between governance actors and citizens, including conflict and coercion. We also need to broaden our empirical basis to substantiate claims on the virtuous circle argument and research additional cases and regions, particularly over time. This also includes the development of precise measurements for different degrees of legitimacy of both state and non-state actors. Lastly, we need to elaborate on the conceptual differences between trustworthy government and legitimate government and the diverse sources for both beyond effective performance.
Article
This article introduces the themes and arguments of the special issue. While virtually all polities enjoy uncontested international legal sovereignty, there are wide variations in statehood, that is, the monopoly over the means of violence and the ability of the state to make and implement policies. Areas of limited statehood are not, however, ungoverned spaces where anarchy and chaos prevail. The provision of collective goods and services is possible even under extremely adverse conditions of fragile or failed statehood. We specify the conditions under which external efforts at state-building and service provision by state and nonstate actors can achieve their goals. We focus on the extent to which external actors enhance the capacity (statehood) of authority structures in weak states, or directly contribute to the provision of collective goods and services, such as public health, clean environment, social security, and infrastructure. We argue that three factors determine success: legitimacy, task complexity, and institutionalization, including the provision of adequate resources.
Article
The state has always been difficult to define. Its boundary with society appears elusive, porous, and mobile. I argue that this elusiveness should not be overcome by sharper definitions, but explored as a clue to the state's nature. Analysis of the literature shows that neither rejecting the state in favor of such concepts as the political system, nor “bringing it back in,” has dealt with this boundary problem. The former approach founders on it, the latter avoids it by a narrow idealism that construes the state-society distinction as an external relation between subjective and objective entities. A third approach, presented here, can account for both the salience of the state and its elusiveness. Reanalyzing evidence presented by recent theorists, state-society boundaries are shown to be distinctions erected internally, as an aspect of more complex power relations. Their appearance can be historically traced to technical innovations of the modern social order, whereby methods of organization and control internal to the social processes they govern create the effect of a state structure external to those processes.
Article
Abstract The state is not the reality which stands behind the mask of political practice. It is itself the mask which prevents our seeing political practice as it is. There is a state-system: a palpable nexus of practice and institutional stucture centred in government and more or less extensive, unified and dominant in any given society. There is, too, a state-idea, projected, purveyed and variously believed in in different societies at different times. We are only making difficulties for ourselves in supposing that we have also to study the state - an entity, agent, function or relation over and above the state-system and the state-idea. The state comes into being as a stucturation within political practice; it starts its life as an implicit construct; it is then reified - as the res publica, the public reification, no less - and acquires an overt symbolic identity progressively divorced from practice as an illusory account of practice. The ideological function is extended to a point where conservatives and radicals alike believe that their practice is not directed at each other but at the state: the world of illusion prevails. The task of the sociologist is to demystify; and in this context that means attending to the senses in which the state does not exist rather than to those in which it does. ‘When the state itself it is danger’, Lord Denning said in his judgment yesterday, “our cherished freedoms may have to take second place, and even natural justice itself may have to suffer a setback’. ‘The flaw in Lord Denning's argument is that it is the government who decide what the interests of the state should be and which invokes ‘national security’ as the state chooses to define it’, Ms Pat Hewitt, director of the National Council for Civil Liberties, said yesterday’.
Resistance and control in Pakistan
  • A Ahmad
Ahmad, A. (1991) Resistance and control in Pakistan. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press
Drivers of conflict in the Swat Valley
  • W Avis
Avis, W. (2016) Drivers of conflict in the Swat Valley, Pakistan. Birmingham: Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham
Oslo: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs Barth, F. (1959) Political leadership among Swat pathans
  • K Aziz
  • L Helge
Aziz, K. and Helge, L. (2010) 'Swat: main causes of the rise of militancy'. Policy Brief 10. Oslo: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs Barth, F. (1959) Political leadership among Swat pathans. London: The Athlone Press Barth, F. (1981) 'Swat pathans reconsidered' in F. Barth (ed.) Features of person and society in Swat: collected essays on pathans: 253-273. London: Routledge BBC (2009) 'Swat Taleban find sharia a challenge' (http://news.
Militancy conflicts and displacement in Swat Valley of Pakistan: analysis of transformation of social and cultural network
  • N Elahi
Elahi, N. (2015) 'Militancy conflicts and displacement in Swat Valley of Pakistan: analysis of transformation of social and cultural network' International Journal of Humanities and Social Science 5(3): 226-236