Tribal leaders in KP oppose new dispute law, want restoration of jirgas

Tribal elders participate in a jirga session in Tank, South Waziristan tribal district, on Dec. 15, 2019. (Photo courtesy: Tank Jirga)
Short Url
Updated 18 February 2020

Tribal leaders in KP oppose new dispute law, want restoration of jirgas

  • Under the new ADR law, reconciliation committee's decision cannot be challenged in the court.
  • Jirgas are traditional meetings for settling intertribal affairs, disputes and blood feuds

PESHAWAR: Tribal leaders in the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) want the old jirga system restored as they oppose the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government’s recently introduced Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) law.

ADR came into effect in tribal districts on Dec. 26, under the 2019 KP local government amendment act, but it has not been well received by tribesmen, who insist on the restoration of traditional jirgas – councils of elders – to deal with settlement to tribal disputes.

Malik Qabil Mehsud, a tribal elder from South Waziristan district, told Arab News that before the FATA’s merger with KP, jirga decisions could be challenged by higher forums, but under the new law district administrators would have the final say.

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.

According to Mehsud, giving the final say to a district’s deputy commissioner would tantamount to “imposition of a silent martial law.”

Tribal elders attend a jirga session in Tank, South Waziristan tribal district, on Jan. 2, 2020. (Photo courtesy: Tank Jirga)

“It is yet another attempt by the district administrator to accumulate more powers. The deputy commissioner – a top administrator in a district – enjoys the same power as the political agent in former FATA. It is simply the law of the jungle. We want the old open-ended jirgas in which all and sundry can participate,” Mehsud said.

The political agent used to be the administrative head of each tribal agency, representing the president of Pakistan and the appointed governor of KP.

In line with ADR rules, conflicted parties have one month to appeal reconciliation committee verdicts.

Salahuddin Afridi, another tribal elder from Khyber tribal district, said the new ADR system would allow lawmakers of the National Assembly and of the Provincial Assembly, as well as senators to force district administrators to appoint their near and dear ones as ADR committee members.

“Before the FATA-KP merger, upright and respectable elders with in-depth knowledge of tribal customs and laws used to hold jirgas. But under the ADR system, inexperienced young boys will come forward, which can create a huge mess,” he said.

Jamal Dawar, another respected figure from North Waziristan district, said that granting judicial powers to deputy commissioners under the ADR law contravened the Constitution.

“The KP government should first hold local bodies’ election and then nominate successful candidates to the ADR committees. The district administrators should not be empowered to select ADR members as it will make mockery of justice,” he said.

Jirga in tribal districts is the main meeting for consulting and discussing intertribal affairs, land and money disputes and blood feuds. Tribal leaders hail it as democratic and participatory, stressing that an opportunity to participate is accorded to everyone.

Council of Islamic Ideology endorses suspension of congregational prayer

Updated 02 April 2020

Council of Islamic Ideology endorses suspension of congregational prayer

  • Chairman Dr. Qibla Ayaz says relatives of COVID-19 victims should be allowed to attend the funeral prayers
  • Says no group or sect was responsible for spreading the coronavirus in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) on Thursday endorsed the government's decision to suspend congregational prayer of more than five people to prevent the spread of coronavirus across the country.
After holding an emergency meeting in Islamabad to review the situation created by the global pandemic, the council chairman, Dr. Qibla Ayaz, addressed a news briefing wherein he highlighted the sanctity of human life in Islam.
According to an official handout circulated by the council that works as a constitutional body responsible for giving legal advice on Islamic matters to the government, the CII head noted that it was not right to consider that mosques had been shut down.
However, he added that the government's decision to limit the number of worshippers must be honored by people under the existing circumstances.
He also urged the administration not to treat religious clerics harshly and seek their assistance on the matter.
The council chairman noted that COVID-19 was not spread by any sect or group, and it was not right to blame the pilgrims or members of the Muslim missionary movement for the outbreak.
He said that the victims of the virus should be buried in accordance with their religious beliefs, adding that the bodies should be washed with precautionary care and the relatives of the deceased individuals should be allowed to participate in the funeral prayers.
Ayaz also noted that those who lose their lives to the infectious respiratory disease should be called martyrs and buried with respect.
The council chairman emphasized it was important to help minority religious communities in Pakistan, urging devout individuals with financial means to use their money set aside for religious rituals and activities to help people facing economic hardships.
He also noted that mosques should act like community centers to assist the unemployed and needy.