Announcements :
• Dr. Muhammad Hanif Khalil has resumed the charge as Acting Director of the National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad w.e.f. 25-09-2023
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National Institute of Pakistan Studies
Name of ScholarAhmed Salman Humayun
Title of Dissertation Elite Politics in Pakistan: Going Beyond the ‘Public Face’
Issue Date2002
PublisherNational Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan

Political actors utilizing diverse resources III the domestic and international environment, adopt pragmatic strategies to outmanoeuvre their political competitors, but at the same time they may seek to justify their expedient actions and that they would do with reference to the public face.

In attempting to understand elite politics in Pakistan the study of public face, therefore, becomes important. Before analysing Pakistan’s elite politics we have to look at ‘making of the public face’, that is, we have to undertake an historical treatment as to how the public face of Pakistan’s politics came to be evolved. In such evolution three themes seem to be important: First, largely ‘trust-based patterns of elite politics in pre-colonial South Asia can be discerned, which were mainly located in the Muslim rule in the sub-continent. Secondly, colonial patterns of governance, continuing some of the pre-colonial practices for pragmatic considerations of achieving stability of the rule, also introduced, from the beginning, rule-based legal rational style of bureaucratic and military administration. The latter along with intermittent reforms eventuated in the establishment of democratic governance based on British parliamentary traditions. Lastly, the creation of Pakistan resulted by virtue of a ‘movement claiming that Muslims possessed a culture different from that of Hindus and were, therefore, entitled to a status of nationhood and a separate country. The movement, thereby, gave a fillip to an extensive spread and articulation of cultural norms among Muslims.

The present study appreciates various patterns of elite politics and their pragmatic strategies in a historical manner starting from pre-colonial India, reviewing the colonial period and coming down to the termination of the colonial era. It focuses on the making of the public face of politics and the emergence and consolidation of elite groups.

The thesis is divided into seven chapters. The first introductory chapter, including a literature review, is followed by the second chapter, which presents a critique of the developments in the elite theory, sharpens some of the existing concepts and coins new concepts to create a contextualized framework of analysis, along with the methodology of the study. Chapter three “Setting the Context: Pragmatics and the Making of the Public Face of Politics” places the argument in the larger historical context. Drawing on historical political sociology, it analyses the elite politics in northern India during pre-colonial times with a contrasting analysis of the functioning of modem legal-rational structures during the British rule both of which go to make the major contours of ‘pubic face’ of Pakistan’s politics . It also highlights the elite and elite groups as well as the legislative arrangements in colonial times.

Chapter four “Political Competition among Civilian Elite and the Emergence of Rival Elite” discusses the political competition among the civilian elite in early years after independence, with focus on their pragmatic strategies for outmanoeuvring its members keeping the public face of politics in their major decisions. It also brings to the fore the gradual rise of the bureaucratic and military elite as rival elite in the body politic of Pakistan. Chapter five “Dismissing a Civilian Prime Minister: Nazimuddin’s Removal and its Pragmatics” studies the decision of Prime Minister Khwaja Nazimuddin’s dismissal (1953). It sheds light on the public face of his dismissal along with the pragmatic considerations behind it, and pragmatic gains accruing to the bureaucratic-military elite from it, which contributed to consolidating their position vis-a-vis the civilian elite. Chapter six “Dissolution of Constituent Assembly and its Pragmatics” deals with the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly (1954) and explains how political actors may try to break the existing rules of political conduct for the sake of pragmatic gains, and redefine the rules of political competition. Like the earlier chapter, it also highlights the public face and pragmatics of the decision of the Governor General in dissolving the Assembly. The last chapter “Pragmatics of Bureaucratic-Military Coup” focuses on the pragmatic reasons of the coup of October 1958 by President Mirza. It also explores the dynamics of competition among the rival elite: military elite led by Ayub Khan and bureaucratic elite represented by President Mirza. In addition, it also reveals the pragmatic reasons of Mirza’s ouster from power and the pragmatic gains accruing to the military elite from it.