This article explores how the political connections cultivated by Pakistan’s business groups contributed to their rise as key actors in the corporate sector. Such connections have long been used by business groups in developing countries to secure access to economic rents from politicians in power. We examine the basis of selection of business groups for state patronage under military and civilian-led regimes, as well as the extent to which such ties have contributed to their rise as Pakistan’s leading enterprises. A historical analysis is provided of these groups, with a focus on a financial review of their publicly listed companies. We find that emerging business groups actively resort to rent-seeking activities by colluding with ruling elites, while also using multifaceted networking to protect and enhance their presence in the corporate sector.

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