October 29th, 2020

By Rehan Piracha 


The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government will be submitting a draft law for the resolution of local issues through Jirgas in the merged tribal districts in the forthcoming provincial cabinet meeting for approval but the opposition says the draft law is an attempt to hide government negligence in provision of infrastructure.

The provincial government has faced opposition in implementing the alternate dispute resolution law in the merged districts in place of the previous scrapped Jirga System under the Frontier Crimes Regulation law. According to the ADR law, authorities would form a reconciliation committee in each tribal district, comprising up to 40 members, including tribesmen and administration officials. Committee decisions would not be subject to challenge in a court of law. The proposed law on jirgas was disclosed during a meeting of the provincial task force on merged tribal areas. The meeting was chaired by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan. Provincial Ministers Taimur Salim Jhagra, Shoukat Yousafzai, Anwarzeb, Special Assistant Kamran Bangash, Corps Commander Peshawar Lt. Gen. Noman Mahmood, Chief Secretary Dr. Kazim Niaz, Additional Chief Secretary Shakeel Qadir, Inspector General of Police and Frontier Corps and other civil and military high officials attended the meeting.

Dispute Resolution Councils not functional in merged districts

Syed Ghazi Ghazan Jamal, Member of Provincial Assembly of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek Insaf from Bajaur, said the salient features of the draft law on jirga system will be revealed once its presented in the cabinet meeting. According to Jamal, there has been discussion in the cabinet in previous meetings about allowing the jirga system to resolve local issues across the province in order to involve local communities in the larger process of justice. He said the discussion focused on all areas of the province and was not specific to the merged districts.

Jamal said the dispute resolution councils under the alternate dispute resolution law have not been functional in the merged districts. He said the local population had shown reservations on the members elected for the councils. He said the jirga system was an integral of the culture and enjoyed trust and respect of the population. He said the chief minister has directed that the proposed law should be implemented as soon as possible.

Govt not doing enough for infrastructure in merged districts, says ANP MPA

According to Nisar Ahmed, Member of Provincial Assembly of the Awami National Party from Mohmand district, the ADR has been challenged in the high court. In his opinion, the provincial government has not done much in terms of infrastructure in the tribal districts since the merger. People do not want to revert to the older Jirga system but the lack of civic facilities and infrastructure has made them more vocal than previously, he said. The people in the merged districts have faced a lot and been treated badly by the administration in the last decades, he adds. Now, there is at least one graduate in each family of the tribal districts and people now have much greater comprehension of their rights as citizens,” Nisar Ahmed said. The provincial government has not shared or asked input from people’s representatives on the proposed law on the jirga system in the merged district, he said. The government’s sole focus is on suppressing voices of the people, Nisar Ahmed says, adding that the people and his party would resist any proposed law on jirga system in the merged districts, adding that any jirga system was unacceptable that violated fundamental rights in the Constitution.

Gul Rehman, President of Mohmand Bar Association, said the proposed law for imposition of jirgas in the merged system was a ploy by the government to hire its cronies left unemployed by scrapping the jirgas under the FCR. He said the misuse of authority and cronyism of the tribal elders had caused resentment among the population. The bureaucracy still was paving hurdles in redressing problems of the tribal population. The government is doing little in educating tribal people about the judicial system prevalent across the country. According to Gul Rehman, any proposed law on the jirga system would be opposed by the local population as it would be tantamount to going back in history.