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Politics, Institutions, Poverty: The Case of Karachi

S. Akbar Zaidi
Economic and Political Weekly
Vol. 32, No. 51 (Dec. 20-26, 1997), pp. 3282-3293
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4406207
Page Count: 12
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Politics, Institutions, Poverty: The Case of Karachi
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Abstract

Poverty alleviation is the trendy and fashionable slogan for the end of the 1990s. Projects will be defined with a specific focus on the poor, often with the help of donor money channelled through non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This attempt, while well meaning, will invariably be at a micro level with a narrow focus, often ignoring the causes for the existence of poverty in the first place. Band-Aid social work of this variety will certainly improve the living conditions of a number of beneficiaries in the project area. However, poverty is primarily a political issue, caused and maintained by factors of a macro nature and by institutions which function in a specific, political, environment. This paper argues that politics comes prior to poverty, as do institutions. The failure of institutions to address issues of poverty and development are seen here as essentially political failures. Looking back over the last decade, it would be difficult to find a more politicised, violent, ethnically divided, alienated city than Karachi. The paper concludes with the assertion that far-reaching and substantial political and institutional reform, must come first in any attempt to alleviate poverty, particularly in Karachi.

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