October 24th, 2020
By Umar Bacha
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has prepared the Kailash Marriage Bill which is expected to be presented in the Provincial Assembly by December. The purpose of the bill is to give legal cover to the marriages of the Kailash tribe.
For the first time in the history of Pakistan, the government is making attempts to give legal status to marriages between members of this tribe.
For centuries the Kailash tribe has been living in the Bamburit area of Chitral. It has a unique status in Pakistan with a distinct cultural identity and is famous for its unique rituals.
Nabaig a senior lawyer from the Kailash community says, “We want this law to be made as soon as possible because we are citizens of Pakistan much like anyone else. It is about time that our culture is coded through law. Though I agree that making a marriage bill is no easy task and requires a lot of research and investigation into the culture. But the relevant authorities must try to expedite this process.”
Mohammad Zahir Shah, a senior lawyer from Chitral, says the Kailash Marriage Act will protect the customs of the Kailash tribe, but may also create complications because the country already has an Islamic law.
“There are some loopholes in the law. For instance, if a Kailash boy marries a Kailash girl, and later the boy decides to convert to Islam their marriage will automatically become void. But all in all this law is long overdue. All other religious minorities including Hindus and Christians have their own family laws in the country so it is only fair that we get one of our own as well,” says Zahir Shah.
There are about 4,000 people of the Kailash tribe currently living in the Chitral Valley. The law seems to be a step in the right direction and will lay a framework that will protect the rights of both men and women of the tribe, keeping in mind the distinct cultural identity of its members.
“The Kailash have to face a lot of legal difficulties because of the absence of family law. If by chance they have to go to court after marriage the legal framework is not equipped enough to resolve their matter,” says Wazir Zada, Advisor to Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on religious minorities’ affairs.
Weddings in Kailash are conducted in a unique manner according to their customs and their cultural their religious festivals are also held in different seasons of the year. These events are visited by tourists from all over the world.