When we talk about politics in Pakistan, it’s always about politicians and just about political parties. This differentiation is of vital importance because of its implications for democratic governance. Despite the huge explosion of electronic and social media and the coverage given to politicians, the alienation of the peoples from political leaders continues to increase.
The basis of political behavior is the local culture. Culture is the rootof social design that provides directions to the inhabitants ofyour lifestyle Therefore, culture is considered a way of life.
Hence, culture emerges political culture for politicsbehavior and political participation. Political culture is this partof the culture that influences the political decision making of an individual as well as society.
Political decision making ispolitical behavior that is identified as a voting behavior in thebasis of a particular thought, belief and action. Therefore politicalculture is the main way to influence the political behavior ofan individual in a particular society.
Punjab is a special societywith its own regional configuration based on pluralistic ethnicity, the Zamidari system,with urban characteristics with a modern education based onscience and technology, marked sectarianism in the contextIslamic beliefs, and especially the Western heritage.
Political parties are destined to establish party at all levels in order to engage with the public, helping to reduce alienation. But most parties in our country care little about this. The leaders of the local factions often guarantee a bank of votes: biradris, clans and sects.
Such factions exist in some form or another throughout Punjab and Baluchistan mostly but also in other provinces. Network leaders are easily accessible to their members as they live in the same neighborhood, interact with them and respond to their needs. They add and articulate their collective needs and negotiate with politicians and government officials on behalf of their members.
Although these factions play an important role locally in the absence of parties, it is extremely dangerous to promote competition among them, as this hinders social progress and allows intolerance and misogyny to flourish.
In the absence of non-partisan civil society organizations at the local level, the importance of primordial factions is accentuated in politics and electoral governance. Most officials do not care, even if factional actions go against public policy objectives. For example, while the National Action Plan strives to eliminate extremism and sectarianism, many politicians continue to cultivate sectarian factions.
What makes these primordial networks so popular among politicians? The only reason which comes in mind is that “voters prefer candidates closer to them”. We do not have political parties that make contact at the neighborhood level. Instead, we have primordial factions that do this work.
A leader, who would most likely be very close to the heads of households residing in their neighborhood, will have strong monitoring and control over voters. It would not require much more than their support in the form of vows. Despite this relationship, the leader does not take people for granted.
Very often, before declaring their candidacy or support to a particular party / candidate, a wise faction leader goes through a consultation process and obtains the consent of the communities. Very often, the whole process is handled with diligence.
In general elections, most faction leaders support candidates from political parties, but in local elections they prefer to run for office. No wonder we had more independent candidates in LG’s polls than those nominated by the parties.
The biradari system and the caste hierarchy are the decisive factor that determines the rights of people to political participation. The political marginalization of members of the caste group who reside in the villages due to their subordinate position in the caste hierarchy.
In the 2015 local elections and General Election, 2013 the lower caste status of service providers restricts their rights to political participation, including the right to vote, to contest elections, participate in the electoral campaign and assume leadership functions. As a result, they are excluded from the political patronage system that connects villagers with politicians through their biread representatives.
This patronage system serves the interests of the villagers by providing access to state institutions, in particular to the police and courts, welfare funds and employment opportunities. With the decline of the caste system, members of the caste groups that provide services began to exercise their right to vote in the elections.
Biharradarism and caste, as a system of social stratification, divide individuals into hierarchically classified categories, which are differentially powerful, privileged, and valued. In rural Punjab, the rights of individuals to political participation are determined by the caste hierarchy of their group.
Members of the traditional zamindarbiradaris have the privilege to lead, participate in elections, participate in election campaigns, exercise their voting rights and develop networks with political influence. On the other hand, kammibiradaris members are generally excluded from local power structures and their political participation in village affairs is limited due to their lower birradari position.
Kammis do not generally participate in electoral politics, nor do they openly support any candidate. During the election campaign, politicians negotiate with zamindarbiradaris for their votes. The representatives of zamindarbiradaris help politicians get the voices of the marginalized segments of their people, that is, members of kammibiradaris.
Kammis generally do not have the opportunity to interact directly with political influences. In summary, the ability to possess and exercise political power is associated with belonging to a biradarizamindar as a prerequisite and, therefore, kammibiradaris members are generally unable to fulfill leadership roles and patronage.
Inelectoral politics of rural western Punjab, biraderi and voting blockplay the leading role in determining the voting behavior of thepeople. The ideological commitment to political parties orProgrammatic monitoring in politics has very little role indo the voting behavior of rural voters in the WestPunjab.