However, with masculinity both in conflict and

However, masculine practices go beyond the roles which men are expectedto fulfil and also reflect ideas of power and authority which exist withinsociety. Whereas the mobilization of Mohajirs can be explained in terms oftheir need to fulfil roles which were ascribed upon them, this does notadequately account for the extent and nature of the violence they perpetrated.Khan (2010) estimates that between 1994 and 1998 MQM was responsible for aroundsix thousand killings, including the murders of innocent citizens such ashomeless individuals belonging to the Sindhi ethnic group.

Ex- mercenaries alsoadmitted to heinous acts, including killing and mutilating a pregnant woman whowas the wife of a Punjabi corporal. These brutal acts do not correlate with thepolitical motivations of attaining equality which the militants and MQM claimedto be fighting for. Rather, as Duriesmith (2016:25) proposes, “the constructionof war is intimately intertwined with broader notions of gender and power insociety”.

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Ex-mercenaries such as Shehzad, indicated that the desire for respectwas an integral factor in their motivations for joining MQM and theirsubsequent involvement in the armed violence which ensued. Shehzad acknowledgedthat “MQM workers were highly respected by all…

We idolized them and enviedtheir respect. Many of us joined” (Khan, 2010: 231). For most of themercenaries, they felt the need to exert domination in order to earn respectand authority, two ideals which were inherently associated with masculinityboth in conflict and in peacetime. Khan (2010:238) observes that MQM “promoteda brutal (hyper)masculinity typified by virility, prowess and physicalaggression” which offered previously powerless young men an opportunity toobtain the valorised ideals of male authority which they desired.

Many scholarsincluding Elshtain (1995), Enloe (2000) and Barrett (2011) propose thatmasculine practices and armed violence are mutually reinforcing, acting asenabling conditions of each other. In her analysis of the conflict, Khansupports this, suggesting that the conflict was characterized by a”performative cultural production of dominant, competitive masculinities”(Khan, 2010: 238) which resulted in the physical practices traditionallyassociated with peacetime masculinity becoming exaggerated during conflict.This in turn led to an increase in the intensity of violence and alsoinfluenced the tactics used such as mutilation. As a result, the masculine practices and ideals of earning respect andauthority can be identified as a favourable condition or root cause of armedviolence as they make conflict itself ‘thinkable’ (Cockburn, 2010).


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