The Patronage Networks in Pakistan

The patronage networks By Ayesha Siddiqa
Dawn, 12 Feb, 2010

A COUPLE of months ago while walking through the F-9 park in Islamabad I met a young undergraduate studying information technology. He was critical of corrupt politics and the feudal mindset of the ruling elite. He was bitter about our leaders who he said do nothing but grab and exercise excessive power.

The conversation went fine until I asked him about his future plans. He wanted to take the civil service exams. Why won’t you pursue the profession for which you are training, I inquired. The answer was that he wanted to have power, since you cannot survive in the country without it.

I was reminded of a similar conversation I had with another person aspiring to join the civil service. This person was pursuing postgraduate studies abroad and wanted to become a bureaucrat to avenge the system that killed his parents. Being poor, the only option he had was to take his ailing parents to a government hospital without sifarish. Naturally the doctors on duty couldn’t care less and the man’s parents died. Now the young man who got an opportunity to go abroad for studies thought he would join the system and change it from within.

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