Sunday, July 7, 2013

Power and Civil Society in Pakistan

Anita M Weiss and S. Zulfiqar Gilani
Oxford Univ., 2001

This book reviewed various articles about power and authority in Pakistani society. Weiss and Gilani have gathered different perceptions about power relations, and noted a shifting pattern of power relationships in social domain. The shifting patterns of authority are because of the instability of political institutions and inefficiency of governments.
Gilani's article traced psychological explanation of existing power structures like male supremacy and paternalism. In order to understand social power in a culture, it is important to identify the psychological underpinnings of power at individual level. Gilani's argument is interestingly divergent since he views desire for social position as inherent rather than acquired. Freudian psychoanalysis has been used to support the argument, and desire of power in the later stage of life is consequent to progressive loss of power during the early stages of development. Individual sense of powerlessness is reflected in a variety of social, political and cultural expressions as they relate themselves to power figures.
Anita Weiss studied the power relations through a gender approach. Weiss argues that public and private spheres of power are interrelated. Women's subordinate position in a family is reiterated at State level. A discriminatory law against women in a society is an extension of acts of violence committed against women within their homes. To Weiss, women's social liberation is dependent to women's empowerment within their families.
Omar Asghar Khan's article states how people's disillusionment with traditional forms of political structure led to the formation of CSOs, which is an expression of cohesion and power for the people. Unfulfilled needs for welfare, relief and provision drive people to seek alternate means that is by organizing in an CSO they ensure the protection of their rights. However, Khan does not perceive CSOs as an alternate of State, because CSOs need the cooperation and patronage of State or elite, else they can not function smoothly.
This book is a distinct and palpable analysis of Pakistani society. A drift from the usual projection of an exotic image, the writers of the articles presented the Pakistani society as what it is in its contemporary state. The book contains about ten articles contributed
Writers from varied social disciplines contributed the articles in the book:
Imran Anwar Ali a professor at LUMS, Farzana Bari of Quaid I Azam university, Shahid, Javed Burki of World Bank, Syed Zulfiqar Gilani, University of Peshawer, Omar Asghar Khan, an CSO activist and founder of a non-profit organization SANGI,,Saba Gul Khattak, SDPI, Omar Noman, UNDP, Mustapha Kamal Pasha, School of International Service at American University, Lynn Renken, Mercy Corps International, Hasan Askari Rizvi, Punjab University, Anita M. Weiss, University of Oregon,

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