Accepted paper:

Bureaucratic politicisation & governance in Punjab, Pakistan


Sameen Ali (Lahore University of Management Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

Focusing on Punjab, Pakistan, this paper argues that a deeper understanding of the factors underpinning specific patterns of bureaucratic appointment is essential for those seeking to understand specific patterns of governance.

Paper long abstract:

This paper argues that understanding patterns of bureaucratic appointment allows for a deeper understanding of patterns of governance. Tracing the appointment/promotion/transfer of senior and mid-tier bureaucrats in Pakistan through legal, extra-legal, and illegal means, I argue that many politicians and bureaucrats face incentives to manipulate the appointment process. This paper provides an overview of those personal and political incentives (which are shaped by the interaction of formal and informal institutions), as well as the methods used to influence bureaucratic appointments in Pakistani Punjab. I show that different combinations of 'incentive structures' and 'appointment methods' produce different patronage bonds, and the nature of these bonds determines whether or not desired outcomes (electoral gain, bureaucratic efficiency, targeted service delivery) are achieved. Based on interviews and ethnographic observations, I find that those in a position to influence bureaucratic appointments are better able to bend outcomes to their personal or political advantage, not when they undertake 'illegal' appointments (which introduce higher personal and political costs), but when they exploit specific loopholes in the existing appointment procedures.

panel P25
South Asian bossism