is a research associate at the Overseas Development Institute. She specialises in governance and rights in fragile states, with a particular interest in inclusive peacebuilding and statebuilding, and has worked with donors, UN agencies, think tanks, and NGOs on a range of confli...
Exclusion: a hidden driver of Pakistan’s fragility
Clare Castillejo, 26 April 2012
Deeply entrenched patterns of political, social and economic exclusion are fuelling Pakistan’s fragility. Large segments of the population are denied basic rights, access to resources, or a political voice based on their identity or location. This creates grievances that motivate people to violence. It also perpetuates Pakistan’s elite and unaccountable governance, which itself is a major cause of instability.
There are four main axes of exclusion that most clearly drive Pakistan’s fragility. These are the political and economic exclusion of some regions by the political centre; the exclusion from access to land experienced by much of the rural population; the profound exclusion and violence faced by religious minorities; and the exclusion of many young people and women, which contributes to Pakistan’s demographic instability. Ultimately, all these forms of exclusion serve the interests of Pakistan’s civilian, military and traditional elites. Hence there is little political will to challenge them.
The international community has so far failed to pay sufficient attention to issues of exclusion and inequality within its response to Pakistan’s fragility. European actors are particularly well placed to address exclusion through their political engagement and development assistance to Pakistan. However, they are likely to face strong resistance from Pakistani elites, as well as other challenges.