However, men are expected to fulfil and also

However, masculine practices go beyond the roles which men are expected
to fulfil and also reflect ideas of power and authority which exist within
society. Whereas the mobilization of Mohajirs can be explained in terms of
their need to fulfil roles which were ascribed upon them, this does not
adequately account for the extent and nature of the violence they perpetrated.
Khan (2010) estimates that between 1994 and 1998 MQM was responsible for around
six thousand killings, including the murders of innocent citizens such as
homeless individuals belonging to the Sindhi ethnic group. Ex- mercenaries also
admitted to heinous acts, including killing and mutilating a pregnant woman who
was the wife of a Punjabi corporal. These brutal acts do not correlate with the
political motivations of attaining equality which the militants and MQM claimed
to be fighting for. Rather, as Duriesmith (2016:25) proposes, “the construction
of war is intimately intertwined with broader notions of gender and power in
society”. Ex-mercenaries such as Shehzad, indicated that the desire for respect
was an integral factor in their motivations for joining MQM and their
subsequent involvement in the armed violence which ensued. Shehzad acknowledged
that “MQM workers were highly respected by all… We idolized them and envied
their respect. Many of us joined” (Khan, 2010: 231). For most of the
mercenaries, they felt the need to exert domination in order to earn respect
and authority, two ideals which were inherently associated with masculinity
both in conflict and in peacetime. Khan (2010:238) observes that MQM “promoted
a brutal (hyper)masculinity typified by virility, prowess and physical
aggression” which offered previously powerless young men an opportunity to
obtain the valorised ideals of male authority which they desired. Many scholars
including Elshtain (1995), Enloe (2000) and Barrett (2011) propose that
masculine practices and armed violence are mutually reinforcing, acting as
enabling conditions of each other. In her analysis of the conflict, Khan
supports 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 traditionally
associated with peacetime masculinity becoming exaggerated during conflict.
This in turn led to an increase in the intensity of violence and also
influenced the tactics used such as mutilation. 
As a result, the masculine practices and ideals of earning respect and
authority can be identified as a favourable condition or root cause of armed
violence as they make conflict itself ‘thinkable’ (Cockburn, 2010).