Informality and Political Violence inKarachi
Haris Gazdar and Hussain Bux Mallah
[Paper first received, May 2011; in final form, November 2012]
This paper proposes an understanding of political violence in a major metropolisthrough the lens of informality in urban planning and land use. Political conflict inKarachi has been examined largely from the lens of ethnic identity. Here it is shown,using census data, how urban planning was implicated in the evolution of the city’sethnic demography. Election results at the polling station level further confirm theimportance of territory in Karachi’s violent political divisions. The literature oninformal economic governance, and its insights on non-state contract enforcementand dispute resolution, is used to interpret case studies of three unplanned neigh-bourhoods. Various migrant cohorts had distinct experiences regarding informaleconomic governance and the politics of regularisation. These differences gave riseto two alternate modes of informal economic governance, which not only sustainedviolent political divisions, but also denied coercive monopoly to formal institutionsof the state.
This paper proposes an understanding of political violence, or violence implicatingpolitical organisations, in a major metro-polis through the lens of informality inurban planning and land use. Karachi pro-vides sustenance to its 15 million residentsthrough industry, trade, commerce, ser-vices and charity. It is also a violent city where organised criminal and politicalactions claimed over 1700 lives in 2011(CPLC, 2012). Nearly 500 of the murdervictims in 2011 were recognised activistsfrom political parties,
paradoxically in aperiod when the main alleged protagonistshave been in coalition governments.Karachi, which accounts for 8 per cent of the national population, was the site of 42per cent of all reported assassinations inPakistan between 1988 and 2010 (Shapiro
Hussain Bux Mallah
are in the Collective for Social Science Research, 173-IBlock-2, PECHS, Karachi 75400, Pakistan. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Special Issue Article:
Cities, Conflict and State Fragility in the Developing World
0042-0980 Print/1360-063X Online
2013 Urban Studies Journal LimitedDOI: 10.1177/0042098013487778
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