In their post-authoritarian period, civilian governments in transitional democracies have often been battered by unelected power centers. Where do these unelected forces derive their power? This article addresses this question through a case study of Pakistan. Since the 2018 elections, a decade after leaving formal political office, the Pakistani military has asserted greater control over civilian government. Using the concept of informal institutions of political participation as an analytical framework, we argue that when formal forms of control become untenable due to legitimacy and/or functional constraints, the military turns into a Janus-faced institution, visibly acting as a formal state organ while invisibly protecting its institutional interests through what we call “informal mechanisms.” The article explains how Pakistan’s pre-2018 political situation dictated a quasi-military regime more suited to the military’s interests than direct military rule.
Governing through Informal Mechanisms: Military Control over State Institutions in Pakistan
Saif Ur Rahman is a PhD candidate in the School of Economics and Management, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China. His research interests include civil–military relations, social media, and international political economy. This article received partial financial support from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (grant no. Y03021299900402)
Zhao Shurong is a Professor of Political Science in the School of Public Affairs and Administration, and Director of the Center for West African Studies, at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China. Her research interests include comparative studies on politics and governance. She also works at the frontier of public policy and strategic management in the context of globalization.
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Saif Ur Rahman, Zhao Shurong; Governing through Informal Mechanisms: Military Control over State Institutions in Pakistan. Asian Survey 1 December 2021; 61 (6): 942–970. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/as.2021.1433283
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