Rameez Ansari reflects upon a crucial issue
Pakistan is currently riddled with conflicts and the main issue it confronts is the lack of a conflict resolution mechanism that could be successfully the process of conflict resolution employed to end the contentious state of affairs. It is pointed out that a conflict is resolved when all the parties to a dispute agree that it is over for good, in full knowledge of the situation and without any form of coercion, whether personal, manifest, or structural since they acknowledge that their respective interests and values have been satisfied.
This process implies that conflict resolution requires a new relationship to be self-sustaining without any form of coercion and on the way to resolution there may be truces that may finally achieve resolution. It must be kept in view that conflicts occur at all levels with each having its special characteristics but there are elements in common.
Conflicts pertain to international, interstate, corporate, and many other areas. Pakistan suffers from intense political conflict having a strong influence on the socioeconomic aspects of the country. Against this backdrop, conflict resolution is at the far end of a spec¬trum of outcomes that begins with parleys involving compromise and lengthy negotiations and compromise. A satisfactory conflict resolution is one in which all the parties have their values and interests satisfied. Conflict resolution is the most ambitious outcome sought since resolu¬tion based on a non-coercive framework is hard, but not impossible, to achieve.
Since its existence, Pakistan was embroiled in a security dilemma confronting successive policymakers with a stark choice between guns and butter. This security dilemma was also linked to the notion that all adversaries had the drive to dominate and that there could be no peace in a real sense.
Internally And Externally Distractions
It was considered to be an eternal struggle between the status quo and the revisionist powers. Aggravating this conflicting scenario were the structures with conflict being the result of incompatible interests built into structures. Structural imbalance suggested that conflict was endemic and there were few chances of its resolution. There were lots of impediments relating to the history, education, and culture of individuals and the society within which they lived.
In wake of these realities conflict resolution, both internally and externally, became dependent on the destruction of existing exploitative structures and the creation of a revolutionary resolution. In the context of Pakistan, it was perceived that increasing the degree of confron¬tation in society is thus a step toward revolution and, thereafter, conflict resolution. It was therefore rightfully deduced that conflict resolution here is very different in the pluralist tradition since it gives salience to the notion of harmony of interests.
And it was also pointed out that collective security will work if all the stakeholders in the system come together to agree on the rules of behavior and on how to alter the rules to accommodate change. It is further accepted that if anybody strays from the fold they will be brought back into it. Underpinning this is the idea that all human beings have a high degree of shared values and that they can pursue these in a rational manner, in the right circumstances.
Conflict resolution is highly dependent upon rationality that is primarily concerned with the opportunity cost, that is, what other desired goals have to be sacrificed in order to achieve a particular goal. Parties in conflict frequently have tunnel vision in which they become obsessed with one particular goal, paying a very high price for other desired goals to attain it.
Process Of Conflict Resolution Encouraged
To see this in context, stakeholders are encouraged to spell out the full range of their perceived goals and then attempt to minimize the opportunity cost between those goals. The next stage is to repeat the exercise but this time in the context of others, so that in the long run, all parties will be in a position where they are maximizing the totality of their values and minimizing the overall opportunity cost. Such an exercise in rational opportunity costing frequently leads to a consideration of basic human needs that must be satisfied if the conflict is to be resolved.
Final and ultimate conflict resolution could only be achieved once basic human needs including food and water as well as social needs such as security, identity, participation, self-actualization, and esteem are adequately provided and ensured. It is also required to be ensured that facilitators in the resolution process are non¬judgmental since they do not pronounce guilt or innocence nor are they directive. They do not con¬tend that they know best. They are, however, extremely supportive of all the parties since the values and interests of all must be met.
The process is highly participatory with all the veto holders present, no matter what their past. Finally, there is a disempowerment of the parties by emphasizing that they share a joint problem that they can only resolve together. This approach typifies a more general movement at all conflict levels from judg¬mental decision-making to that of a supportive framework. The process of conflict resolution is frequently the last resort when the parties know that they can neither win nor are likely to lose and Pakistan has reached that point. The Weekender