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Development Theories: Seminar 1 exercise

Case Study: Citizens’ views of ‘good life’ in Pakistan

The case study provides the views of poor and middle class citizens on their concept of good life in
Pakistan. Please read this case study carefully and discuss the following questions:

1. What is citizens’ vision, description or measure of the state of being of a society desirable to
them? And what are their notions of development as a (a) imminent process, (b) planned
intervention?
2. Considering citizens vision of what they can do for themselves to achieve good life what
possibilities of social change you can foresee and what needs to be done to enable them to do
better?
3. What deliberate efforts/intervention by the state and civil society are required to address
citizens’ needs and concerns?

Poor, dis-empowered citizens:


Amongst poor in urban areas some common indicators of good life referred to the provision of basic
health facilities, education, employment, better sewerage, clean drinking water, better ecology, food,
shelter, equal opportunities for progress and justice, rule of law, and peace and security.

In rural areas such as Turbat and Pasni in Baluchistan, Swabi in NWFP and Jhang in Punjab the main
emphasis was on the provision of hospital, schools, fertilizers and pesticides available on reasonable
prices, good harvest, water for irrigation and basic infrastructure facilities like roads and transport.
Workers in urban and peasants in rural areas in all provinces also identified exploitation and tyranny
of powerful individuals such as factory owners, ethnic political leaders and landlords restricting them
to lead a good life.

Due to various problems like water shortage, price-hike, and water logging causing low farm
productivity in rural areas and consequent increase in poverty, the availability of alternative jobs
(especially in urban localities) was also considered important. Peace and security, was the first and
foremost requirement to lead a good life. Education and health facilities were generally the high
priority areas, both in urban and rural Pakistan. Over the years, entangled in their traditional
professions, citizens have learnt that the traditional professions could not alter their lives. They,
therefore, opined that education could help them meeting the challenges of changing world.

Unlike Punjab and Sindh, the areas such as NWFP and Baluchistan (excluding coastal areas) which
are dominated by tribal heads, the religious view of good life seemed dominant. For example
tobacco growers in Village Baqar (Swabi, NWFP) and coal mine workers in Quetta (Baluchistan)
believed that good life largely depends on the practice of Quran and Sunnah (teachings of the
Prophet Muhammad) and a way of life implicit in the principles of Islam. In their view Islam has aptly
provided solutions to all economic, political and social problems of village as well as city life – hence
no need for any other models of development.

Regarding citizens role to create good life most of the citizens in rural areas lacked any significant
vision. In cities also the situation was not much different. In cities, the clusters of youth and labor in
Sindh and traders in Punjab could identify few ideas; these were mere desires, rather than proposals
for development. They did not see any definite role to play and seemed to rely more on the state to do
so. In short, the dependence of citizens on state seemed to be almost complete.

The development paradigm in their minds that rely more on state’s intervention has, on the one hand,
made them dependent and, on the other, has become a cause of frustration in the light of ground
realities where state is unable to provide them required development. As a consequence, they seemed
to have complete reliance on the state while having no faith in any of its institutions. Quite frequently,
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the respondents from invisible category complained about malpractice, corruption and bribery, and
the fact that the state could not deliver.

The poor citizens’ had expectations that the state should solve the problems that restrict them to lead a
good life. In rural areas, people urged the government to provide schools for boys and girls, hospitals,
clean drinking water and water for irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides, loans on easy installments, and
infrastructure facilities. Date growers in Turbat and fishermen in Pasni (Baluchistan) also urged the
government to construct a highway linking Karachi with these areas. Such highway would facilitate
them to transport fish to Karachi, which they were currently transporting through a longer route
incurring much more transportation cost.

Middle class citizens:


Due to more awareness and education, middle citizens’ perceptions were somewhat different from
poor citizens. Apart from the provision of basic necessities and economic and social progress their
perceptions ranged from the prevalence of spiritual values to concepts such as, equal opportunities for
all, tolerance in the society -- especially religious tolerance, welfare of people, freedom of speech and
expression, aesthetic accomplishments, gender equality, civilized behavior, democracy, cultural
development, empowerment of people and access to information and technology and end to violence
and terrorism in the society.

The rural middle class aspired for a boost in agricultural production and wanted the government to
provide them infrastructure facilities and equitable provision of justice to all. These citizens in Pasni
and Turbat in the province of Baluchistan urged government to construct factories in their areas and a
motorway linking these areas, especially Gwadar with Karachi and Iran. This would bring down the
cost of transportation of their goods to these areas.

The middle citizens emphasized the need for the quality and accountability of the holders of the
public office, members of the judiciary and high ranking offices in civil and military services;
reduction of their discretionary powers, restructuring and downsizing of the government and among
other things transparency and reduction in defense expenditure. Citizens in most of the clusters were
critical of government’s initiatives such as, nuclear tests.

On the whole, there were four demands of middle class citizens from the state – 1) overcoming crimes
and deteriorating law and order situation; 2) providing citizens peace and security of life; 3)
overcoming rampant corruption in state departments; and 4) bringing social, economic and political
stability in Pakistan. They also urged that the state should provide education, health and roads, equal
opportunities of justice, assurance of full wage, effective implementation of labor policies, protection
of labor interests and overcoming ambiguity in labor laws.

Growing crimes and the declining state of law and order situation was the major concern.
Improvement in law and order situation was, therefore, the foremost demand. In my recent visit to
Pakistan, such a demand of citizens seemed to be even intense, as deplorable law and order situation
and crimes of various kinds are at historic high nationwide. Daily news papers are filled with reports
on crimes. Chaos in society was on increase since 1980s, it has been compounded with
the widespread increase in the new kinds of crime -- especially related to illegal drugs--and criminals
have substantially greater firepower. Since the war in Afghanistan, Pakistan has been awash with
guns. Kalashnikov and other automatic weapons have become ubiquitous. Criminal violence,
especially kidnapping for ransom, murders, crimes against women (rape, kidnapping, honor killing
etc.) have significantly increased. According to some conservative estimates, Pakistan is among the
top killers under law in the world. It has approximately 7,400 convicts awaiting execution (Daily
Times: 2007). The perpetuating crime rate is alarming especially in Sindh and Punjab. In Karachi
1,178 persons were killed, 825 were killed apparently for political and sectarian reasons. At least 110
of them were killed at police hands – in encounters or in police custody. The death toll included 107
women and 37 children. In Punjab 4,811 persons or more faced criminal attack, 6,732 others survived
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attempts on their lives in 2011. Official figures for crimes against women in the country put victims of
murder at nearly 2,000, of kidnapping at 4,600 per annum.

It is not surprising therefore that on the whole, a vast majority of citizens ideals of a good life not only
referred to the provision of basic necessities but also to peace and security of life and property and the
same they expected from the government to provide. Controlling law and order situation had been
therefore a recurrent theme across all classes of citizens of Pakistan.

What is citizens’ vision, description or measure of the state of being of a society desirable to
them? And what are their notions of development as (a) imminent process, (b) planned
intervention?

Poor citizens in rural areas = state must provide basic resources; peace and security first requirement
for a good life, followed by need for education and health facilities
Poor citizens in areas dominated by tribal heads = good life depends on following Islam teachings; no
need for other models of development
Middle class citizens = provision of basic necessities + addressing law and order, providing for peace,
overcoming corruption, stability in the country; emphasized accountability of public officers

Notions of development:

As immanent process: for poor citizens adhering to religious point of view, development is immanent
(inherent) by following teachings of Islam
As planned intervention: citizens depend and expect the state to plan for and provide good quality of
life for them

Considering citizens vision of what they can do for themselves to achieve good life what
possibilities of social change you can foresee and what needs to be done to enable them to do
better?

Citizens don't see role to play in creating a good life; dependent on state to provide for their needs
(while at the same time having little faith in state institutions)

Possibilities of social change:


- Education
- Greater transparency/collaboration between state actors and citizens in provision of services

What deliberate efforts/intervention by the state and civil society are required to address
citizens’ needs and concerns?
- Reforms in sectors identified by citizens as needed (law and order, health, education, infrastructure)
- Education and awareness on part of civil society to do their part in helping address these concerns

***development seen as economic growth, capitalistic; but here the citizens are demanding state
intervention (instead of capitalism)
*** bigger picture: consider also the state – its ties, priorities, which will affect how it will address
problems raised by citizens