This book represents an analysis of structural, political, symbolic and everyday causes and processes of the mobilisation of male youth to extreme violence in Karachi. Through the lens of Mohajir politics – in MQM and, to a lesser extent, in Jamaat e Islami – it developed a view on modalities, practices and individual dimensions of violence that integrated governance, civil society and cultural issues, alongside intra-familial and psychological processes. It took an actororiented, historical and interdisciplinary approach to a relatively unelaborated perspective on male subjectivity, political terror and affect in its account of a violent social movement in urban South Asia. Rather than exploring MQM’s ascendancy as a political movement, it has focused on how certain men from the ethnic community of Mohajirs were recruited to the roles and statuses of prominent political killers in the Karachi conflict. Exploring three interlocking temporal perspectives it sought to overcome some tensions in distinctions between theoretical explanations that conceptualise the post-Independence, cultural or biographical past, for example, as causes for violence, within an analysis of experience. Combining ethnography in a Central Karachi neighbourhood with the analytical perspective of life-history work, it drew together national, social and personal histories in an explanation of how sustained individual participation in violence and killings derived longitudinally from a trajectory of internal, psychological and affective and external socio-political and cultural events over time. Setting the historical and political scene, early sections (Chapter 2) examined the significance in post-Independence Sindh of rapid demographic reconfiguration arising from large-scale migration, discriminatory policies, economic downturn, the deterioration of law and order as well as wholesale failures in democratic political legitimacy in understanding the meteoric rise of MQM. Similar contentious issues of violence, trade, immigration, urbanisation, ethnicracial and religious hostility had earlier also characterised the British Imperial conquest of Sindh and the growth of ‘Kurrachee’ from a sleepy coastal town in 1839 to its present status as Pakistan’s commercial capital, housing over 15 million. Their dramatic re-emergence in the aftermath of Partition, and in MQM’s subsequent violent articulation of grievances to the state, gave credence to the drawing out of, in the nascent Mohajir public and political consciousness,

older lines of historical continuity. After the seventies, Mohajir nationalism became crystallised in response to avowed structural forms of exclusion and authoritarianism, to the military’s overdominant position as the ultimate arbiter of political power, the plundering of state resources by those in power, the collapse of the taxation system and to pressures on Karachi’s urban socio-economic infrastructure. These national and provincial factors were central to the ethnic fragmentation of civil society, to powerful syncretic forms of violent class protest and to the obstruction of normative ‘democratic’ possibilities of debating and resolving problems through political institutions. They also contributed to the form of MQM’s collective politics, its electoral success as well as to the culture and practice of violence amongst its activists and militants. Whilst these factors are prioritised within the dominant interpretive framework of Mohajir nationalism, they are lived and experienced differently and their examination, I argued, required an additional measure of analytical complication. Support for MQM, for example, is not as widespread amongst Karachi’s more staunchly middle-class Mohajir communities, which retain strong support for parties such as Jamaat e Islami, and amongst Liaquatabad’s Mohajirs exclusion and poverty have been commonly experienced and contested as relative rather than absolute deprivation. Whilst the issue of identity is important in the links made in this book between the individual, politics and society, the homogeneity of ‘Mohajir’ as an identity marker was queried for communities so divided by class, ideology and violence, and naturalising or essentialising tendencies avoided in the framing of either identity or violence. Pakistan’s post-Independence history was described in terms of a trajectory of contested discourses over changing Mohajir identities which enfolded historically diverse trajectories and modes of ‘Mohajir’ political participation and action. Whilst they were linked through migration and a common mindset rooted in the aftermath of Partition – and a range of modernisation goals that reacted to the structural exclusion of an aborted bourgeoisie – they were differentiated through class, political affiliation and urban demography. ‘Mohajir’, I argued, is a highly flexible concept adopted for diverse expressions of identity and purpose, subsuming principles of Islamic statehood (JI), of ethnicised class protest to the state (MQM), opposition to Altaf Hussain’s leadership (Haqiqi) as well as a myriad of individual interests directed towards gaining legitimacy amongst peers, position in the party and within localities. Whilst MQM was founded on the notion of ethnic identity, specific practices of ethnicity within MQM have not focused particularly on rituals, food, music or dance, for example, but on sets of practices relating to recruitment to political action and to political violence. Although political violence within MQM has social and cultural aspects, violence also entailed individual acts. The notion of ethnic identity was crucial because it has both a public social, and a personal private face and, in its linking of external and internal worlds, was critical in explaining individual participation in extreme violence. The biographic and ethnographic explication of these interests revealed the explanatory and instrumental power attributed by activists to ethnicity compared to other factors, and some

ways they negotiated their daily lives in a complex social and political environment and history shaped by violence and migration, as well as how ethnicity constituted a politically instrumental categorisation distinguishing, as distinct group phenomena, opposition or support for violence. Developing a view of structural, political, symbolic violence being reproduced across different societal levels, and in collective nationalist and political as well as personal private agendas, I argued that political killings were not solely driven by class, economic deprivation or ethnic politics, and for the insufficiency of conceptualising violence solely in terms of a response to structure, or ‘exclusion’. Although the effects of exclusion and poverty undoubtedly feature, the theoretical emphasis on these aspects tends to ‘politicise’ violence rather than to deal with its meaning to communities and individuals and, more erroneously, to collapse actions that may not necessarily be related to exclusion into forms and modalities of ‘opposition’ and ‘resistance’. As Mahmoud (2005) has argued in her excellent ethnography of the women’s mosque movement in Egypt, frameworks that predominantly conceptualise individual agency in exclusive liberatory terms of ‘resistance’ to subordination can lead to the elision of many human dimensions of ethical and political action that do not map onto the logic of subversion, resignification or resistance to repressive models of power: ‘in order to grasp these modes of reason and action indebted to other reasons and histories, I will suggest it is crucial to detach the notion of agency from the goals of progressive politics’ (p. 14). In respect of the women mosque participants, for Mahmoud it is important to recognise that agency is not individual, but produced out of the historically contingent discursive traditions in which these women were located. I developed on this notion that explorations of agency should account for, but also be detached from too close an adherence to the framework of political power relations, and examined in terms of the ways individuals relate to others, and to themselves, within a field of institutional, discursive and imaginary networks as well as psychological domains. Whilst poverty, unemployment and exclusion are key forces for political identity and political violence, rather than affirm young Mohajirs as the passive victims of exclusion, the biographies revealed ways in which individuals were active agents in shaping cultural, political and economic practices of violent opposition to social marginalisation, how male subjectivities were negotiated within the performative contours of violent conflict but also, how participation in killings, besides causing insecurity and emotional pain, could present an opportunity for transforming selfhood and changing and improving one’s life socially and materially. Additionally, the study incorporated a psychoanalytic view on aggression in order to think through the complexity of ways individuals became subjectified as killers through history, discourse and experience. In doing so, it addressed a question more elegantly posed by Fanon writing on the Algerian War of Independence: ‘Should it be said that war, that privileged expression of an aggressivity which is at last made social, canalises in the direction of the occupying power all congenitally murderous acts?’ (2001:247). Theorising the place of individual aggression in mobilising particular Mohajirs to embrace extreme ‘political’ viol-

ence, I first tried to think about the formation of aggression at the sites of culture and the individual psyche, and drew attention to the preoccupation in psychoanalytic thinking on aggression with the relative importance of innate destructiveness (Freud) and environmental influences (Klein). In Freud’s (1929/1985) theory, culture, psyche and aggression are powerfully connected – men are instinctually driven to cause their fellows pain, to torture and to kill them – excessive ‘cultural’ violence is produced through the re-externalisation of aggressive drives combined with a failure of morality. Despite the analytical potential of these connections proposed by Freud between internal and external worlds, the exact pathway between individual aggression, cultural violence and political conditions is left relatively unelaborated. The problem of linking individual aggression to external social worlds I proposed is more effectively addressed by the Kleinian tradition. For Klein (1946/1975), the psychodynamics of aggression are intertwined with feelings towards parents and with an infant’s fantasy life, as it is in fantasy that the infant splits object and the self. For Klein, dealing with the implications of one’s aggression on one’s loved ones, both external and internal, is the central drama in life and hostile destructiveness is never far from love and devotion. Kleinian perspectives on object-relations consider it essential to psychic wholeness for the individual to manage good and bad objects and construct a healthy concept of self. The management of fantasised aggression towards self and object is the key to attaining a whole self and to preventing the psyche from being overwhelmed with anxiety. Infantile fantasies of destroying the good object with aggression and hatred can lead to anxieties about being destroyed in turn by the bad object, to pre-emptive aggression and, in extremes of destructive aggression, to the fragmentation of the self (Klein 1975:11-12). Developing these arguments, Mitchell (1993) proposes that physical violence, as an extreme expression of individual aggression, may constitute a reactive defence by an endangered self which is under external threat of punishment, humiliation, shame, physical or emotional attack or (and as well as) threatened internally by lack of internal wholeness. The emphasis in these perspectives shifts towards the environments that engender aggression, namely family pathology and gives importance to the affective experience underlying the aggression, which may include anxiety, empathic failure or the disintegration of a whole self. Fonagy (Fonagy and Target 1995) adds a further dimension on ‘mentalisation’, suggesting that when both self and other are fragmented, as a result of persistent physical or emotional abuse in childhood, violence may reflect a need to manage anxiety where individuals conceptualise themselves and others more physically than mentally. Aggression, in this case, responds to the assumed hostility of the object (caregiver) and is accompanied with a failure to appreciate the mental states of others who are perceived of as dangerous and non-reflective. When parental abuse occurs regularly, aggression may fuse integrally, becoming isomorphic with self-expression. One of the aims in this book was to map out ways that some aspects of these processes, originating in individual desires for stability and wholeness in

childhood (and selfhood), may also occur at the collective political level (Chapter 3). Whilst Klein allows for the possibility of the ‘social’ in the formation of aggression, she accounts only for the limited dynamics of fantasised aggression that are connected to selfhood and object-status within the family. Nonetheless, with her focus on situated relational dynamics, Klein opens up possibilities for theorising (albeit profoundly speculatively) the link between the psychic and the social, and for tying the Mohajir self that seeks stability and status through aggression to structure, society and external practices and contexts of political violence. Erikson is one psychoanalyst who urges consideration of cultural identity or ethnicity, as the social expression of psychic selfhood that is organised relationally in terms of good self (us) and bad object (them), and requires the same need for recognition and for wholeness as the self. His psychosocial model locates the forms of enmity that lead to contemporary violence as almost invariably organised around ethnic identity, and associated prototypes of good and evil, through which self-definition is achieved through opposition to an Other (1959). In this view, ethno-nationalist political movements, with their demands for recognition, entitlements and representation may be viewed as expressive of a constitutive rupture to identity, and violence conceived of in terms of a solution to identityrelated crises of stability, as well as of a condition of profound potentiality. In this view, the language of representation and discourses in which violence and ethnicity are embedded become key sites of contestation over interpretation, meaning and identity – and crucial to the positive mobilisation of (transformative) violence. This study revealed how, in a field of representations, practices and experiences of death, suffering and destruction, participation in violence (whether or not it entailed ‘opposition’ to exclusion or material advantage) vitalised a real and imagined space of possibility in the formation of subjectivity – that is, of the potential of realising idealised selfhood and of ‘violent becoming’ (the transformation). Rather than viewing collective processes as an indiscriminate projection of individual internal motivations for aggression on the outer world, I proposed we should see ego identity as deriving from the interaction of childhood meaning and dynamic heterogeneous, historical conditions and sought to trace several individual pathways between the psychodynamic within to similar formulations without. As Erikson (1959:18) argued, cultural claims alone do not motivate individuals to act violently in cultural situations. Equally, personal psychodynamics do not replicate social or ethnic claims, for example of humiliation or threats to survival. Rather, collective historical processes assume particularity in individuals, and militants are embedded differently in social discourses. During several phases of the conflict, I examined how the content of these discourses – which elaborated a view on cultural time as well as the basis of demands for recognition and rights – located the Mohajirs’ condition as mythically centred around the violent political geography of Partition (Chapter 4). Political ‘mythmemories’ of injuries sustained in Partition, viewed as repeated in the contemporary situation, were examined as they were invoked in speeches, rallies

and amongst militants, structuring different positionalities through which ethnic identity and political violence were experienced and prosecuted. They linked disjunctive time periods in discourses of identity and of violence, characterising the Mohajirs’ condition in Pakistan as pivotally and symbolically intertwined with their position in British India, their migration and Pakistan’s bloody inception, the betrayal of their sacrifices by the new homeland, and fatefully interwreathing the repair of historical injuries and sacrifices and the destruction of suffering and oppression with contemporary political goals. Enfolding violence into the doing and imagining of political community, these ideas gathered force, forging the moral presence of the past in the present, vitalising Partition’s deaths (sacrifices) in MQM’s political rhetoric, party literature and political culture and providing militants and supporters with a set of metaphors of rupture for identification, legitimation and violence. Reproduced across historical, political, social and cultural settings, they constituted an affective and intergenerational context for public collective and personal, more private memories of the displacements and traumas of Partition to interact. MQM’s projective, violent ideology of exclusive nationalism broadly described MQM’s commitment to redefine the Mohajirs’ place ethnically in Pakistani politics and society, by drawing on historical discourses and myths of sacrifice, exclusion and entitlement. Whilst the framing of Mohajir nationalism in MQM may support Erikson’s view that identity is ethnic, cultural and social as well as personal and individual, reasons for violence did not always involve cultural ideologies or threats to identity specifically invoking Partition, or ‘exclusion’ vis à vis the state, for example, but other personal factors. One suggestion put forward was that conflict offered an opportunity to externalise aggression and to restore stability to fragmenting selfhood and social identity through selfaffirming violent action. Whilst the complexity of reasons uncovered in the biographies are consistent with an in-depth individual analysis, and the cases urge caution in respect of generalising about killing, they also reveal a type (Lewin et al. 1935) for whom killings represented a vehicle for self-definition, for coping with varied interpretations and experiences of the past, as well as with young men’s more immediate contemporary frustrations relating to obstructed social status, respect, poverty and manhood. Although these killers cannot be said to be representative of all Mohajir killers during the Karachi conflict and reflect a substratum of other ‘types’ (see Lewin 1935) of killers about whom I only speculate, nonetheless their type may constitute the basis for some generalisation. The complex and contradictory aspects of political mobilisation and action were further highlighted (Chapter 6) in an examination of the informality of social life in marginalised neighbourhoods, which revealed the contingency of political identity and political action and the role of the local community, community ties and family affiliations in shaping political affilations as well as fundamental tensions between party, collective and individual interests. Again the reductionism of the view that ties political mobilisation and violence solely to exclusion, unemployment or systems of clientelism and corruption was contested. The chapter demonstrated how in socially and economically marginalised

neighbourhoods like Liaquatabad, people were clearly highly resourceful in using diverse social and political networks to subvert their everyday difficulties, but also how they directed practices of both ethnic and religious violence towards the affective, moral and practical dimensions of realising desires for self-assertion, independence and potentiality in the presentation of selfhood and social/political identity. Rather than view subjectivities as shaped, passively, by external forces, I argued that subjectivities, power relations and political practice and culture were mutually constitutive, co-imbricated and also contradictory, and tried to illustrate some ways that hegemonic discourses of both Mohajir nationalism and ‘Islamism’ were supported and challenged by ways people engaged with and brought their desires for themselves, their families and communities to their understandings of political debates and to political participation. MQM killers are overwhelmingly men and a central dimension of this study was a gendered analysis of men’s political participation and violence, and the way they approached past and present suffering in their lives. Two principal lines of argument were highlighted. First, the historical pressures on societal patriarchy in the context of participation in violence, and second, the issue of masculinity. The argument was made that the recruitment of young men to the conflict as killers was processual and tied to personal biographical history as well as to the normative structure of patriarchal social relations and of masculinity. Child-rearing practices reflected the social patriarchal organisation of power within families and pointed to the importance of fathers in sons’ recruitment to killing. This was a field where psychodynamic processes could come into play more strongly. What was specific about child-rearing was not just that fathers dominated in family patriarchy, but that early affective experiences and early disruptions in self-formation involving boys’ relationships with their fathers, as well as maternal depression, domination, abandonment or pre-occupation with a father’s absence in a child’s first years, may all have contributed to aggressive adult identities. The way a boy’s identification and love for his father were tied up with aggression also corresponded with Freudian accounts of individuation where the father-child dyad is the primary object-relationship in the formation of psychological selfhood – and becoming a man involves instinctual identification with a violent father (Fonagy and Target 1995). Paternal violence reflected a normative parenting trend that was also tied, specifically, to the economic, social and political pressures placed on Mohajir patriarchal authority in postIndependence Karachi society, conditions which eroded fathers’ power and agency and interacted with the acculturation difficulties and traumas many experienced as children as Mohajir migrants to Pakistan. For their Karachi-born sons, the generational relation of patriarchal convention to violent masculinities enacted during conflict was found in the extent to which they were excluded from as adults, or abused in as children, conventional worlds of male domination – and it became clear, in several cases that as children, political killers had been singled out for punishment or neglect, or sent away, over and above their siblings.