Examining the endeavours of Hamid Karzai and of most groups in government to build their own patronage networks in the regions, the author observes the lack of sign from Kabul of any serious effort at institution-building. Through the case of the Badakhshan province, A. Giustozzi illustrates the consequence of a particular mix of patrimonialism (defined as the type of rule where matters and resources of state are treated by the ruler as his personal affair) and institution-building. After a short presentation of the province’s historical and social backgrounds, he focuses his attention on how Badakhshan was ruled in the 1990s and 2000s. Casting a crude light on the absence of a real attempt to reinvigorate state institutions in post-2001 Badakhshan, he observes that international actors did not have an appreciate impact on the local dynamics. He concludes notably that what Karzai had in mind in the region was a kind of partial decentralisation of patronage through the creation of shadow viceroys. Electoral politics are credited with a very negative impact on the stability of Badakhshan and on the consolidation of the Afghan state there ― which brings the author to raise the question as to “whether electoral politics and competitive political systems are compatible with patrimonial systems of government (p. 14).” This uncertainty has been sufficient to give some of Badakhshan’s players strong incentives to prioritize short-term interests, favouring the spread of ‘roving bandits’.