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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Enterprising Extremists - Crime, Religion, and the Business of Violence in Pakistan
by Zafar, Rabia, Ph.D., Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University), 2019, 197; 22623399
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation considers non-ideological causes for extremist violence in Pakistan. It examines variability in the occurrence of extremist violence in Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore, and Quetta from 1988 to 2016 and offers detailed case studies of Karachi and Peshawar. Using data gathered through extensive fieldwork and an existing dataset on political violence, the study finds that subnational temporal variability in extremist violence is better explained by incentives than by religious ideology. A key group of violent entrepreneurs, responding to changes in their incentive structures, strategically substitutes extremist violence for other forms of political or criminal violence. At times when these actors choose extremist violence instead of ethnic, electoral, or organized criminal violence, this work calls them enterprising extremists.

Three main hypotheses are tested to determine what factors most impact incentives for extremist violence. The first hypothesis states that incentives for extremist violence are higher than for other forms of violence when the state is either overtly or tacitly endorsing extremist violence. The second hypothesis is that incentives will be higher when there is either: 1) ongoing competition among similarly matched violent actors or; 2) a condition of near monopoly wherein the top violent actor engages in extremist violence. The last hypothesis suggests that the failure of traditional patrons to reliably serve their clients raises incentives for extremist violence. The state endorsement, market structure, and patronage hypotheses are explicitly tested in the Karachi and Peshawar cases, across three separate time periods ranging from 1988 to 2016. While some variables may have greater influence than others at particular times, the analysis finds support for all three research hypotheses.

By contextualizing the violence and lowering the level of analysis from the country to the subnational level, this research challenges broad-brush approaches to the study of extremist violence. It discounts the analytical utility of religion as the primary lens by which to view Pakistan’s historical and current experience with extremist violence. Instead it offers a structural explanation that emphasizes the rational behavior of violent entrepreneurs in determining local trends in violence. As such, this research has strong potential for generalizability to other cases and direct implications for policy.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Drezner, Daniel W.
Commitee: Jalal, Ayesha, Bulutgil, H. Zeynep
School: Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University)
Department: Diplomacy, History, and Politics
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 82/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: South Asian Studies, Law, Entrepreneurship
Keywords: Extremism, Crime, Religion, Violence, Pakistan, Business
Publication Number: 22623399
ISBN: 9798597096124
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