Party patronage and merit-based bureaucratic reform in Pakistan

Sameen A.Mohsin Ali*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


How do ruling political parties accommodate their members’ demand for access to state patronage with a push for merit-based bureaucratic reform? I argue that political commitment to reform is contingent on electoral calculations within the party. Therefore, distortions in reform implementation reveal not only dynamics within the party itself, but also the significance of appointing the right bureaucrats to the right posts to regulate access to patronage. Drawing on qualitative fieldwork in Punjab, I contextualise political commitment to bureaucratic reform to provide an explanation for their unsustainability and for persistently low state capacity in countries with weak, patronage-reliant parties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-201
Number of pages18
JournalCommonwealth and Comparative Politics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Bureaucratic reform
  • Pakistan
  • patronage
  • political calculus
  • political commitment
  • state capacity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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