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Devolution under Autocracies: Evidence from Pakistan

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Authoritarian regimes often direct the course of electoral politics in ways that allow them to concentrate and consolidate power. This observation applies well to Pakistan and its three military regimes: Ayub, Zia, and Musharraf. The political reforms enacted by General Zia ul-Haq, his devolution programme, and his mode of channelling development funds via elected politicians exerted a strong and enduring impact on the country’s political system. Specifically, we argue that institutional changes under General Zia’s regime have stimulated the rise of family politics in replacement of party politics, as well as the formation and consolidation of political dynasties. They have also contributed to the capture of local bureaucracy by elected politicians thereby entrenching clientelism.

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