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Organized Crimes and Governance Gap in the Conflict Affected North-Western Pakistan

Asghar Khan & Ayaz Ahmad

Recently there has been an increase in activities and in the number of
organized criminal groups in the North-Western region of Pakistan bordering
Afghanistan. The simple criminals and gangs have been transformed into
more sophisticated and organized groups especially during the conflict and
post conflict situations. Why is this increase in the number and level of
complexity of criminal activities & gangs? Is there weakness in state capacity
that has led to the rise of the organized crimes and criminal groups in North
Western Pakistan? These questions has been explored by using Migdal’s
concept of strong societies and weak states as a theoretical framework. The
state-centric approach claims that a state always dominates in every affair
within its territorial jurisdiction. In a weak state the government does not
possess sufficient will, authority and power to ensure the performance of its
fundamental functions such as protecting human rights and making available
social and economic wellbeing of its population. If the state fails to provide
these functions, a power vacuum results leading to the rise of strong societies.
Organized criminal groups and criminal economy are indicative of such
happening in North-Western Pakistan. Therefore, in the absence of state
control, the organized criminal groups fill this governance gap by performing
state-like functions in the local community for strengthening their roots.
Keywords: Organized Crimes, Criminal Groups, Gangs, Governance Gap,
State-Society Relations, Poverty and Inequality, Conflict, Social Control.