Violence, political parties and counter-terrorism: three essays on Pakistan
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This dissertation uses quantitative methods and archival research to study three aspects of political violence in Pakistan –1) the effect of political party ideology on political violence, 2) the relationship between the electoral cycle and political violence, and 3) the effectiveness of cellphone shutdowns in reducing political violence. The first essay focuses on whether the political party in power in a region influences the forms of political violence prevalent in that region – i.e. does political violence vary when left-wing, right-wing, religious, ethnic or ethno-nationalist parties come into power? The results show that a) riots increase when ethnic parties come into power in a district, and b) violent demonstrations increase when ethno-nationalist and center-right parties hold seats. Based on newspaper reports from 1988 to 2011, it is argued that ethnic parties in power often create conditions that are conducive for rioting to occur by favoring their own ethnic group with privileged access to public sector jobs, land and other resources and creating resentment amongst other ethnic groups. In addition, it is argued that ethno-nationalist parties engage in a politics of grievance and rely on demonstrations to protest the actions and policies of the national government with regards to their ethnic group. The second essay focuses on the nature and timing of election violence over the course of six elections in Pakistan between 1988 and 2011. It looks at how four different forms of violence – assassinations, riots, demonstrations and terrorist attacks – vary before, during and after elections. The paper shows that riots and terrorist attacks sharply increase on election day, in line with the existing literature. However, assassinations are not affected by the onset of elections and violent political demonstrations see a slight decline in the week after the election which challenges important work on election violence. My final essay examines the effectiveness of disrupting cellphone networks as a counter-terrorism strategy to tackle terrorist violence. The paper shows that when cellphone shutdowns occur unexpectedly they disrupt terrorist attacks, although the effect is short-term as terrorist groups carry out their attacks when cellphone services resume on the next day.