Gham-Khadi: The Reciprocal Exchanges, Obligations, Everyday Spendings and its Correlation with Corruption
In Pakhtun society, the social, reciprocal and obligatory nature of gham-khadi knits and strengthens social ties, associations, and friendships through different types of gift-exchanges. Non-compliance to the code of gham-khadi often means social death. Thus individuals feel obliged to carry out these reciprocal practices for their social existence and to remain part of the social system. The same pressure is seen operating in bureaucracy where gham-khadi is used as a justification to socially legitimize corrupt practices. Using an anthropological lens, this article argues that the guiding social code of gham-khadi also makes its way to the public offices and plays a facilitating role in actions related to corruption. Gham-khadi is frequently exercised within the bureaucracy to an extent that it overrides the official code. Being part of the social collective, bureaucrats practice gham-khadi in their offices in similar ways as they practice it in their daily social life. The article expounds ways in which public offices and state services are used by bureaucrats as means to fulfill their social reciprocal obligations that come under the discourse of gham-khadi. Data for this article was collected through a multi-sited ethnographic study in three sub-districts (tehsil) of the two of the four central districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera, Mardan and Swabi. Data was collected through participant observation, key informants and semi-structured interviews using purposive sampling.
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