HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Director, Center for International Development
Sumitomo-FASID Professor of International Finance and Development


This paper provides a description of the recent decentralization reforms in Pakistan under General Musharraf. In the process, we hope to not only highlight major aspects of this reform, but also to analyze the evolution of this reform in historical context in order to better understand the potential causes behind the current decentralization. Analyzing the evolution of local government reforms in Pakistan is interesting because each of the reform experiments has been instituted at the behest of a non-representative centre using a ‘top down’ approach. The Pakistani experience shows that each of the reform experiments is a complementary change to a wider constitutional reengineering strategy devised to further centralization of political power in the hands of the non-representative centre. We argue here that the design of the local government reforms in these contexts becomes endogenous to the centralization objectives of the non-representative centre. It is hoped that analyzing the Pakistani experience will help shed light on the positive political economy question of why non-representative regimes have been willing proponents of decentralization to the local level.


Cheema, Ali, Asim Ijaz Khwaja, and Adnan Qadir. "Decentralization in Pakistan: Context, Content and Causes." KSG Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP05-034, April 2005.