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Sovereignty, Governmentality and Development in Ayub's Pakistan: the Case of Korangi Township*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 January 2011

Department of History, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK Email:


This paper uses a historical ethnography of the construction of Korangi Township outside Karachi to analyse the configuration of power in the post-colonial Pakistani state of the late 1950s and 1960s. Foucault's distinction between ‘sovereign’, ‘disciplinary’ and ‘security’ power helps to reveal how possibilities of non-interventionist control were deliberately discarded in favour of an (often theatrical) exercise of ‘raw’ power. The way in which the township was conceived by the international architect and city planner, C. A. Doxiadis, often stood in contrast and tension with the ways in which it was executed by General Ayub Khan's military regime (1958–1968). Rapid early success—tens of thousands of refugee slum dwellers were resettled within six months—went hand-in-hand with equally-quick failure and abandonment later on. The Pakistani regime was only interested in demonstrating its ability to make decisions and to deploy executive power over its territory, but it made no sustained effort to use spatial control to entangle its subjects in a web of ‘governmentality’. In the final analysis, the post-colonial Pakistani state was a ‘state of exception’ made permanent, which deliberately enacted development failure to underscore its overreliance on sovereign power.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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1 For instance ‘Pakistan Progress under Military Rule’ The Times, 23 October, 1959. For celebratory pictures see ibid., 4 November, 1960.

2 Recent and important contributions include Waseem, Mohammad, Politics and the State in Pakistan, 1st edn (Lahore, Pakistan: Progressive Publishers, 1989)Google Scholar; Shafqat, Saeed, Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan: From Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to Benazir Bhutto (Boulder: Westview Press 1997)Google Scholar; Nasr, Seyyed Vali Reza, Islamic Leviathan: Islam and the Making of State Power (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Niaz, Ilhan, An Inquiry into the Culture of Power of the Subcontinent (Islamabad: Alhamra, 2006)Google Scholar, Rizvi, Hasan Askari, Military, State, and Society in Pakistan (New York: St Martin's Press, 2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Shaikh, Farzana, Making Sense of Pakistan (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009)Google Scholar.

3 For example, Burki, Shahid Javed, Pakistan: A Nation in the Making (Oxford University Press, 1986)Google Scholar; Pakistan: Fifty Years of Nationhood, 3rd edn (Boulder: Westview Press, 1999); Noman, Omar, Pakistan: A Political and Economic History since 1947, Rev. and updated edn (London, New York: Kegan Paul International, 1990)Google Scholar.

4 For an impressively rigorous, albeit somewhat mechanistic, example in the field of city planning see Legg, Stephen, Spaces of Colonialism: Delhi's Urban Governmentalities (Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

5 (New York: Picador, 2003), Michel Foucault et al., Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège De France, 1975–76, Foucault, Michel, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège De France, 1977–1978 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)Google Scholar, Foucault, Michel, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège De France, 1978–79 (Basingstoke Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)Google Scholar.

6 Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, p. 108.

7 Ibid., p. 71.

8 Ibid., pp. 70–72.

9 This is the result of Foucault's own shifty usage, which becomes clearer only when considering his lecture cycle as a whole. Much of the reception prior to 2007 derives the meaning of ‘governmentality’ exclusively from Lecture 4 (1 February, 1978) which is the only one to have been widely circulated before the recent publication of the entire lecture cycle. For instance, in Michel Foucault, Power, Essential Works of Foucault, 1954–1984 (New York: New Press, 2000), pp. 201–222. Unlike the others, Lecture 4 downplays the juxtaposition of disciplinary and ‘security’ power.

10 Notable examples include (in addition to those quoted elsewhere in this paper) Prakash, Gyan, Another Reason: Science and the Imagination of Modern India (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1999)Google Scholar, Sen, Satadru, Disciplining Punishment: Colonialism and Convict Society in the Andaman Islands (New Delhi, Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2000)Google Scholar, Colonial Childhoods: The Juvenile Periphery of India, 1850–1945, Anthem South Asian Studies (London: Anthem Press, 2005), Anderson, Clare, Legible Bodies: Race, Criminality, and Colonialism in South Asia (Oxford, New York: Berg, 2004)Google Scholar, Arnold, David, Colonizing the Body: State Medicine and Epidemic Disease in Nineteenth-Century India (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993)Google Scholar, Hodges, Sarah, Contraception, Colonialism and Commerce: Birth Control in South India, 1920–1940 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008)Google Scholar; For similar approaches outside South Asia see Mitchell, Timothy, Colonising Egypt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988)Google Scholar, Stoler, Ann Laura, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002)Google Scholar.

11 For an up-to-date account and bibliography of this debate see Legg, Spaces of Colonialism, pp. 18–25.

12 In a general context see the critique of Foucault in Agamben, Giorgio, Homo Sacer. Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998)Google Scholar. For a collection of important new approaches to the problem of sovereignty in South Asia see Hansen, Thomas Blom and Stepputat, Finn, States of Imagination: Ethnographic Explorations of the Postcolonial State (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, Sovereign Bodies: Citizens, Migrants, and States in the Postcolonial World (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2005). For Africa, see Mbembé, J. A., On the Postcolony (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001)Google Scholar.

13 Chakrabarty, Dipesh, ‘“In the Name of Politics”: Sovereignty, Democracy and the Multitude in India’, in Karagiannis, Nathalie and Wagner, Peter (eds), Varieties of World-Making: Beyond Globalization (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2008), pp. 115124Google Scholar; Daechsel, Markus, The Politics of Self-Expression: The Urdu Middle-Class Milieu in Mid-Twentieth Century India and Pakistan, Royal Asiatic Society Books (London, New York: Routledge, 2006), pp. 6775Google Scholar.

14 Daechsel, The Politics of Self-Expression, pp. 75–81. Also (in a different context) in Jalal, Ayesha, The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League, and the Demand for Pakistan, Cambridge South Asian Studies. no. 31 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Shaikh, Making Sense of Pakistan, pp. 46–80.

15 He made this argument before developing the concept of ‘governmentality’. Foucault, Society Must Be Defended, pp. 37–50. For an application to the present context see Chakrabarty, ‘In the Name of Politics’, pp. 129–131.

16 See Chatterjee, Partha, ‘On Civil and Political Society in Post-Colonial Democracies’, in Kaviraj, Sudipta and Khilnani, Sunil (eds), Civil Society: History and Possibilities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 165178Google Scholar; The Politics of the Governed: Reflections on Popular Politics in Most of the World, Leonard Hastings Schoff Memorial Lectures (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004); Verkaaik, Oskar, Migrants and Militants: Fun and Urban Violence in Pakistan, Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004)Google Scholar; Hansen, Thomas Blom, Wages of Violence: Naming and Identity in Postcolonial Bombay (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001)Google Scholar.

17 For an anthropological account of emergency in India see Tarlo, Emma, Unsettling Memories: Narratives of the Emergency in Delhi (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001)Google Scholar.

18 Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, p. 20.

19 Daechsel, The Politics of Self-Expression, pp. 67–75.

20 Zamindar, Vazira Fazila-Yacoobali, The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia: Refugees, Boundaries, Histories (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), pp. 78119Google Scholar.

21 ‘Foreign Aid for Korangi Scheme’ Dawn, 16 November, 1958; also 3 December, 1958; 6 January, 1959; 18 January, 1959; 9 March, 1959; 10 April, 1959; Sunday magazine specials, 17 May, 1959 and 31 May 1959; For context, see Ansari, Sarah, Life after Partition: Migration, Community and Strife in Sindh, 1947–1962 (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 181–91Google Scholar.

22 Dawn, 7 December, 1959.

23 Ansari, Life after Partition, pp. 124–144. For the wider historical context see Khan, Yasmin, The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan (New Haven, London: Yale University Press, 2007)Google Scholar.

24 S.A.A.B. Rizvi, ‘Findings on the socio economic and housing survey of the central flat areas of Karachi 1960’. Pakistan Institute of Ekistics, Archive File 20191: CADA; Dox PA 17, Development of the Korangi Area 2/6/1959: CADA, PakVol. 14, p. 419–422.

25 Ibid., p. 428; Karachi Development Authority, The Greater Karachi Resettlement Housing Programme, January 1961, p. 10.

26 ‘Pakistan Housing’ TOICA 901, 24/12/1958, United States National Archives (USNA), Box 9: RG469, Records of the Foreign Assistance Agencies, Deputy Director's Office, Near East Central Files, Pakistan Subject Files, 1952–58.

27 C-PKH 2381 24/1/61, C-PKH 2667 24/3/61, C-PKH 2875 20/4/61: CADA PakVol. 107; C-PKH 4688 28/6/62: CADA PakVol. 154.

28 C-PKH 2906: CADA PakVol. 108; C-PKH 4054: CADA PakVol. 153; Letter West Pakistan Government Hospital (Korangi) to KDA [date missing] Pakistan Correspondence C-PKH 5663–6095, May–August 1963: CADA PakVol. 187.

29 C-Pak KH 7079, 19/8/1964: CADA PakVol. 213.

30 C-PKH 2660 24/3/1961 Progress of Activities in Social Planning for February 1961: CADA PakVol. 107. S.A.A.B.; Rizvi, ‘Findings’, p. 85.

31 ‘Demand and Collection in Korangi (Arif)’ C-PKH 5047 13/10/1962: CADA ‘Archive File’ 17928. C-Pak KH 6800 7/5/1964 ‘Comments on the Cost Analysis of the Greater Karachi Resettlement Programme’: CADA PakVol. 213.

32 Dox PAK LH 18, 16/5/64, Rehabilitation of Low Income shelterless families in West Pakistan: CADA PakVol. 199.

33 Dawn 9 April, 1959; George Meader, ‘Our Foreign Aid Program—a Bureaucratic Nightmare’, Reader's Digest, April 1957. Also Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Government Operations, House of Representatives, Eighty-Fifth Congress, Second Session, Part II, pp. 1059–1071: USNA RG233.

34 ICA advisor Robert Clifford, for instance, wanted more agricultural development but no steel mill, ‘Telegram State to Karachi’ 30 July, 1957, Box 9; similarly Audit Report to the Congress of the United States: United States Assistance Program for Pakistan, International Cooperation Administration, Department of State, 1955, p. 5, Box 15. The contrary view was powerfully expressed by Rep. Passman, Chairman of Foreign Operations Subcommittee on House Appropriations Committee, ‘Confidential Comments on Foreign Aid Programme’, 26 October, 1955: USNA RG469 Pakistan Subject Files, 1952–1958, File ‘Pakistan programs’, Box 12.

35 Meeting Notes on German and US Steel Industry in Pakistan 14 September, 1953, Magis, Ed Dahl, SOA, Jo Drake, Larry Nahai; USNA, Box 1.

36 Karachi Dispatch 468, 26 January, 1955: USNA, File Pakistan—programs 1955–1956, RG469 Pakistan Subject Files, 1952–58, Box 12. Letter ‘AKA’, Dawn, 1 January, 1958; Letter ‘A Trader’, Dawn, 1 February, 1959, p. 7; also see Noman, Pakistan, pp. 15–21.

37 Ernest F. Fisk's farewell assessment, Lahore Despatch 165, 3 May, 1957: USNA File—Pakistan Programs Evaluation, RG469 Pakistan Subject Files, 1952–58, Box 13. For a more detailed discussion of the history of this development see Jalal, Ayesha, ‘The State of Martial Rule: The Origins of Pakistan's Political Economy of Defence’, Cambridge South Asian Studies, No, 46 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990)Google Scholar.

38 Dawn, 1 January, 1959; 20 January, 1959; 2 March, 1959; 7 March, 1959; 21 March, 1959.

39 For the best recent account see Bromley, Ray, ‘Towards Global Human Settlements: Constantinos Doxiadis as Entrepreneur, Coalition-Builder and Visionary’, in Nasr, Joe and Volait, Mercedes (eds) Urbanism: Imported or Exported? (Chichester, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2003), pp. 316340Google Scholar.

40 Jean Kim, ‘C. A. Doxiadis and the Funding of the Ecumenopolis’, unpublished conference paper, Space and Progress—Ekistics and the Global Context of post-World War II Urbanization and Architecture, Athens, 1–2 December, 2006.

41 C. A. Doxiadis ‘The Arab Metropolis’, lecture delivered at the Seminar on ‘The New Metropolis in the Arab World’ sponsored by the Congress of Cultural Freedom, Cairo 18–23 December, 1960. CADA, General Reports R-GA 211.

42 Constantinos Doxiadis, A., Ekistics: An Introduction to the Science of Human Settlements (London: Hutchinson, 1968), pp. 4456Google Scholar.

43 For example, Reports R-QA 790–821, November 1957: CADA, Iraq Vol. 63.

44 One amongst many examples is Doxiadis’ reading of Le Corbusier's grand project: Dox PP 78 Report on Chandi Garh, February 1956, CADA: PakVol. 6.

45 The most direct link existed in the person of Jacqueline Tyrwhitt, one of the most important popularizers of Geddes's ideas. She was also one of Doxiadis’ closest collaborators and editor of his ‘house journal’ Ekistics.

46 See Geddes, Patrick and Tyrwhitt, Jaqueline, Patrick Geddes in India (London: L. Humphries, 1947)Google Scholar; for a case study see Daechsel, Markus, ‘De-Urbanizing the City: Colonial Cognition and the People of Lahore’, in Talbot, Ian and Thandi, Shinder (eds) People on the Move: Punjabi Colonial and Post-Colonial Migration (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 2144Google Scholar, especially p. 29.

47 C-PKH 3130 2-6-1961: CADA, PakVol. 108.

48 Karachi Development Authority, The Greater Karachi Resettlement Housing Programme, January 1961, p. 10: CADA.

49 C. A. Doxiadis, ‘The Future of Our Cities’, 16 June, 1961: CADA, General Reports R-GA 211–248; Doxiadis, Constantinos A., ‘A City for Human Development’, Ekistics, vol. 25, no. 151 (1968)Google Scholar.

50 Doxiadis, C. A., ‘Islamabad: The Creation of a New Capital’, The Town Planning Review, vol. 36, no. 1 (1965), pp. 1824CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

51 Doxiadis, Ekistics, pp. 354–380.

52 See Doxiades, Constantinos Apostolou, Papaioannou, J. G., and Oikistikes, Athenaïko Kentro, Ecumenopolis: The Inevitable City of the Future (New York: Norton, 1974)Google Scholar.

53 Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, p. 64.

54 Ibid., p. 44.

55 Letter to Joint Secretary—Ministry of Rehabilitation, Gov Pak. 3 February, 1959: CADA PakVol. 34; Revision of Greater Karachi Housing Programmes, Discussion at the Planning Commission, C-PKH 1521, 9 July, 1960: CADA PakVol. 70.

56 Allotment Policy for shifting of Refugees (Received from KDA Resettlement Branch on 1.5.1961), attached to R-PKH 202, Social Planning in Korangi: CADA PakVol. 175.

57 ‘Proceedings of the Meeting of the Basic Democracy Members’, 10/4/1960, point 8: CADA PakVol. 69.

58 Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, pp. 45, 63.

59 For example Dox PA 17 ‘Development of the Korangi Area’ in CADA: PakVol. 14. Based on Lt. Col. Nazir Ahmed, Survey of Shelterless Persons in Karachi, Government of Pakistan, 1958.

60 Ansari, Life after Partition, p. 190.

61 Government of Pakistan, unpublished secret ‘Report on the Location of the Federal Capital of Pakistan’, p. 31, CADA. Doxiadis Associates later performed remarkable feats in statistical manipulation proving that Islamabad would not be a civil servant ghetto, despite the fact that most of the projected population was already accounted for by bureaucrats. ‘The Federal Capital of Pakistan: Periodical report No. 5, Estimating the cost’: CADA PakVol. 16, p. 197.

62 ‘Pakistan Housing’ TOICA 901, 24 December, 1958, USNA, RG469. Records of the Foreign Assistance Agencies, Deputy Director's Office, Near East Central Files, Pakistan Subject Files, 1952–1958, Box 9.

63 Schmitt, Carl, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans. Schwab, George D. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), pp. 3850Google Scholar.

64 Kahn, Victoria, ‘Hamlet or Hecuba: Carl Schmitt's Decision’, Representations, vol. 83, no. Summer (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. More specifically Bredekamp, Horst et al. . ‘From Walter Benjamin to Carl Schmitt, via Thomas Hobbes’, Critical Inquiry (1999) vol. 25 (2) pp. 251254CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

65 Maulana Muhammad Rafi Usmani, Kuch Yadein, Kuch Batein, Audio Recording, downloaded from [accessed 1 October, 2010].

66 See map of existing built-up areas in Dox-PA 17 2/6/1959, p. 417. For dealing with existing settlements see Dox PA 5. 15.4.59, ‘The Korangi Development within the greater Karachi Area—Periodical Report No. 2’: CADA PakVol. 14.

67 C-PKH 2292, 7 January, 1961 CADA: PakVol. 107; Dawn, 10 April, 1959, p. 14; The Times, 4 November, 1960.

68 Dawn, 8 December, 1959.

69 C-PKH 4456, 27 April, 1962: CADA, Vol. Dox-Pakistan, p. 154.

70 Dawn, 2 February, 1961.

71 Government of Pakistan—Ministry of Rehabilitation, National Housing and Settlements Agency, The Korangi Township in Karachi: special issue on the occasion of the visit to Pakistan of the President of the United States of America Dwight D. Eisenhower, CADA: ArchiveFile Dox 25310.

72 Not to be confused with commonsense notions of a ‘police state’, Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, pp. 313–328.

73 ‘The panopticon is really the oldest dream of the oldest sovereign’, Ibid., p. 66.

74 Dawn, 12 February, 1961; Communication and Works Department, ‘Minutes meeting with Abdul Aziz’, 25 August, 1963, C-PKH 6109: CADA, PakVol. 188.

75 Ihsan Ullah, ‘A study of a neighbourhood market in Korangi’, August 1961: CADA.

76 For example, Letter Mashooq Ali, President, Kurrissian [Qureshian] Mosque to Overseer in Charge Market 36/D, 6 April, 1962, R-PA 150, 12 April, 1962, Building Regulations for Korangi (draft): CADA PakVol. 154; Letter ‘Residents of 2-A Area’, 10 November, 1961, CADA: PakVol. 110.

77 Google Earth [accessed 10 October, 2008].

78 For example, Letter Mashooq Ali Siddiq, Aziz Ahmad Bukhari, C-PKH 6271, 30 October, 1963: CADA PakVol. 188; Letter S. Y. Karmani, Chairman Baldia Residence Deputation, 22 November, 1960: CADA PakVol. 108.

79 It is indicative, for instance, that Hamza Alavi's celebrated Poulantzian theoretization of the Pakistani state pays much attention to the interests of the ‘metropolitan neo-colonialist bourgeoisie’, Alavi, Hamza, ‘The State in Post-Colonial Societies—Pakistan and Bangladesh’, New Left Review, vol. 74, no. July August (1972)Google Scholar.

80 As argued with regard to India's recent capitalist development in Partha Chatterjee, ‘Democracy and Economic Transformation in India’, Economic and Political Weekly, 18 April, 2008.

81 Expressed directly in ‘Secret Memo MAAG Submission’, ICA, 5 October, 1958 (Killen), Box 4 ‘Pakistan—Defense—Expenditure’; also in ‘Secret Memorandum’, Brodie (State Department) to J. H. Canning (ICA) 5/12/1955, Box 12, ‘Pakistan programs 1955–1956’. ‘1958 MDA programs Military Advisory Group to Pakistan (secret)’, 23 July, 1957, Appendix A; ‘Memo US Embassy Karachi to Department of State’, 16 December, 1958, Box 13, ‘Pakistan Programs (MDA) 1956–1958’; Secret telegram Karachi to State 27 August, 1954, Box 14, ‘Heinz Mission Report (draft) 1954–1955’: USNA, RG469 Pakistan Subject Files, 1952–1958.