Challenging the landed elite in contemporary Pakistani politics

Document Type



Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, London


Since independence in 1947, highlypoliticisedkinship practices have shaped the country from rural agricultural villages to the highest legislative and executive branches of government and the military.Idealmodels ofpatrilinealaffiliation have defined and guided patterns of factional loyalties. Although my earlier work has principally focused on village networks and politics, the same patterns of factional alliances can be seen at national levels to shed light on the activities of party politics. The mechanisms adopted by the traditional landed elite, far from being challenged, are integral to the strategic success of non-landed elites in securing the top, public, elected positions of power. So, rather than suggesting landed elites have become irrelevant, I argue the source of wealth is ultimately less relevant than the broadersocio-economicshard class and familial interests of a minority elite bound together through marriage.


Journal of Legal Anthropology