A Debate on Decentralization and Governance in Pakistan and Iran through the Lens of Third Positionism


  • Dr. Tariq Saeed Research Associate at the Fatima Zahera Society for Women Development in Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan (Qom, Iran) and Former Research Scholar at the Changan University (Xian, China) and Coventry University (Coventry, UK)


Paul Collier, Keen-Collier Approach, Tight Federalism, Devolution Plan, Republic of South Azerbaijan, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp


In this scholarly investigation, a comparative analysis is focused on the principles espoused by Third Positionists, who advocate for the satisfaction of socio-political and economic rights for every ethnic community within the territory they inhabit within any given state. The study centers on Pakistan and Iran, both of which grapple with diverse ethnic segments asserting varied constitutional or political accommodations within their respective state structures. Examining the federal nature of Pakistan and the unitary structure of Iran, this research scrutinizes the approaches employed by both nations in managing ethnically diverse segments, with an emphasis on fostering multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism to secure contentment among various communities vis-à-vis governance and decentralization initiatives implemented by the central or federal authorities.

Given the global discourse on the dichotomy between federalism and unitarism within the social sciences, this study contributes to the ongoing dialogue by delving into how these systems function in ethnically diverse societies. The examination extends to encompass the ethnonational movements prevalent in both Pakistan and Iran, contextualized within existing constitutional provisions. The study culminates by offering recommendations, drawn from primary sources, to address the nuanced dynamics of governance, decentralization, and ethnonational considerations in these complex sociopolitical landscapes.


Abbas, S. R. (2021, May 21). Institutional Accountibility within the Unitary State System; A Comparative Study of UK, Bangladesh and Iran in 21st Century. Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakistan: Department of Political Science in the Islamia University of Bahawalpur.

Ali, S. S. (2013). Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Minorities of Pakistan: Constitutional and Legal Perspective. London and New York: Routledge.

Asghar, G. (2021, August 26). Political System and Political Culture in Pakistan and Iran. (D. M. Asim, Interviewer)

Asim, D. M. (2019). Conflicting Paradigm between Autonomism, Mutualism and Direct Democracy in Punjab; Impacts on the Demand for New Province(s). Conference on Making New Provinces in Punjab. Bahawalpur: Department of Political Science in the Islamia University of Bahawalpur.

Asim, M. (2020, July 23). Political Economy of Ethno-National Movements in the Post-Soviet Eurasian Region and Its Impacts on Iranian Azerbaijan. Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakistan: Department of Political Science in the islamia University of Bahawalpur.

Bevir, M. (2008). Key Concepts in Governance. London and California: SAGE.

Bizenjo, M. (2011, July 24). Let’s mourn five Saraiki labourers killed by Baloch militants. Retrieved from Let Us Build Pakistan (LUBP): https://lubpak.net/archives/54076

Cheema, G. S., & Rondinelli, D. (2007). Decentralizing Governance: Emerging Concepts and Practices. Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press.

Collier, P., & Hoeffler, A. (2004). Greed and Grivance in Civil War. Oxford Economic Papers, 563-595.

Conable, B. (1991). Managing Development; the Governance Dimension. Washington DC: World Bank.

Constitution of Iran. (2021, September 24). Constitution of Iran. Qom, Iran: Alhoda International, Cultural, Artistic and Publishing Institute.

Constitution of Pakistan 1973. (2021, September 24). Constitution of Pakistan 1973. Islamabad, Pakistan: National Assembly Secrateriat.

Ejobowah, J. B. (2001). Competing Claims to Recognition in the Nigerian Public Sphere: A Liberal Arguement about Justice in Plural Soceities. Lanham and New York: Lexington Books.

Galligan, D. J. (2013). Social and Political Foundations of Constitutions. London: Cambridge University Press.

Historica. (2021, September 24). Third Position. Retrieved from Historica: https://historica.fandom.com/wiki/Third_Position

Hyman, J., & Erickson, D. (2010). Governance Working Paper. New York: ISAF and UNDP.

Lyon, A. (2015). Decentralisation and the Management of Ethnic Conflict; Lessons from the Republic of Macedonia. Oxon and New York: Routledge.

Noor, S. (2021). Greed Versus Grivance; A Case Study of Federalism in Pakistan. Conference on Federalism (pp. 02-10). Bahawalpur: Department of Political Science in the Islamia University of Bahawalpur.

Rahman, T. (2011 ). Language and Politics in Pakistan. Lahore: Sang-E-Meel Publications.

Roofi, Y., Asim, M., & Zaheer, A. (2020). Constitutional Economics under an Official Thought to be Divinely Guided: Implication on Islamic Republic of Iran. Journal of Islamic Thought and Civilization, 273-287.

Zaheer, A. (2021, March 13). Federalism, Unitarism and Varied tendencies for political system in Pakistan and Iran. (D. M. Asim, Interviewer)

Zaheer, D. M., & Asim, D. M. (2021). The Ethnic Dilemma in Balochistan with More Focusing Upon Intra-Provincial Conflicts under CPEC Scenario. Journal of South Asian Studies, 57-66.