Working Paper

IDS Working Paper 550

Accountability Bargains in Pakistan

Published on 27 May 2021

Poor and marginalised citizens rarely engage directly with the state to solve their governance issues in fragile, conflict and violence-affected settings, as these settings are characterised by the confrontational nature of state–citizen relations.

Instead, citizens engage with, and make claims to, intermediaries some of them public authorities in their own right. What are these intermediaries’ roles, and which strategies and practices do they use to broker state–citizen engagement? We argue that in Pakistan intermediaries make themselves essential by:

  1. Being able to speak the language of public authorities;
  2. Constantly creating and sustaining networks outside their communities; and
  3. Building collectivising power by maintaining reciprocity relations with their communities.

In doing so, households and intermediaries engage in what we are calling ‘accountability bargains’: strategies and practices intermediaries and poor and marginalised households employ in order to gain a greater degree of security and autonomy within the bounds of class, religious, and ethnic oppression.

Cite this publication

Loureiro, M.; Pracha, M.; Ahmed, A.; Khan, D. and Ali, M. (2021) Accountability Bargains in Pakistan, IDS Working Paper 550, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, DOI: 10.19088/IDS.2021.046

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