THIS is with reference to Sarwar Bari’s article ‘Elections and parochialism’ (Jan 20). The writer missed out one important dimension in this debate. The fundamental reason of parochial interests of the public reflected through biradrism in elections is that due to dysfunctional state institutions they are forced to seek parallel informal networks of patronage at the local level, which have linkages up to the provincial and the federal level. These genuine and basic entitlements range from getting justice at the village level from the police or courts to getting employment at the provincial or the federal level. Since they had seen that institutions fail to deliver the goods whereas family ties or biradaris are tested and credible, their natural choice is to vote for them rather than for party manifestoes.
The other important factors which reinforce and feed into this argument of dysfunctional institutions are deep mass illiteracy (definition of literacy in our country is only disguising illiteracy) and rampant poverty (the majority is only concerned what is in store for them in the elections rather than taking fancy on party manifestoes).