Pakistan: Ungoverned Spaces

Publication date:
Raza Ahmad Rumi

Policy Research Papers

July 2012

Even after more than six decades since its inception, Pakistan has been unable to establish its writ across geographical boundaries and several of its territories remain ungovernable. Analysts have noted that such regions comprise nearly 60% of Pakistan's territory.1 This phenomenon has consequences for regional stability and affects peace and governance efforts in neighbouring Afghanistan, Iran, Central Asian Republics, and India.

The reasons for lack of governance in Pakistan differ across regions.

In some cases, the non-state actors have succeeded in establishing their own writ, emerging as alternate power centres that have supplanted the role of the state. The most notable of these are the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Balochistan, Southern Punjab and to some degree, the mega polis, Karachi.

This paper seeks to examine three such regions, i.e. FATA, Balochistan and South Punjab, where the authority of the Pakistani state has diminished to varying degrees and where non-state actors effectively govern these areas. In part, this situation is a result of wilful abdication of authority by the central state (FATA), insurgency and regional dynamics (Balochistan) and nurturing of militant networks (South Punjab). The paper looks at the three regions in some detail, outlining the historical evolution of governance systems (or lack thereof) and the current situation, which has serious implications for Pakistan's security and regional stability.