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Jirga system in Pashtuns represents a formal traditional institution of Justice, which is practiced in the Pashtuns society from the time immemorial. According to the Pashto Descriptive Dictionary  Jirga is an original Pashto word, which in its common usage refers to the gathering of a few, or a large number of people. (Attaye 56) It also means consultation according to this source. The roots of Jirga systems have been traced back to the Athenian democracy while some scholars argue that thePashtuns are practicing Jirga even before the Athenian times.
The proceedings of Jirga are carried out in a Mosque, Hujra “Guest House or under the shade of a huge tree. There is no governing officer neither hierarchal position in a Jirga. the Jirga system is conducted in two ways. In case of family or individual disputes the concerned parties themselves appeal to Jirgawhile the Jirga assembles on its own and take Suo Moto action in case of any serious threat to the tribe or under grave social problems. In the latter case the Jirga is organized by volunteers called “Khadims” who perform the role of messengers announcing the date, timings and venue in all the villages of the tribe and also provide necessary arrangements for conducting JirgaJirga members usually gather in form of a huge circle resembling round table conference giving the message that no one is superior in the eyes of Pashtunwali   “ legal code of Pashtuns
There is no systemized mechanism or basic criteria for the selection of Jirga Judiciary Council. Mostly noble elders of the tribe called “Speen Girey” (White beard men) are chosen for this purpose who have known repute for their honesty, wisdom and a firm understanding and knowledge of Pashtunwali and Sharia. However in case of grand Jirga the leaders of different clans are the members of Jirga Judiciary Council. The number of council members is not fixed and varies with the importance, sensitivity and type of dispute but mostly comprises from two to ten members. Any member of the Jirga council who do not practice Pashtunwali in his daily life is usually excluded from the Jirga Council.
The operation of Jirga is carried out in a democratic way. Both the parties are given time to present their case and there is no discrimination made on any basis. The Jirga operation in minor cases is carried out for a day or two while in major cases it may take as long as nine to ten days. During the functioning of Jirgamaximum participation from both the parties and the members of judicial council is highly encouraged. This aids in understanding the nature of problem more effectively and providing possibilities for negotiations between the two parties. The crowd is not allowed to participate or interfere in the proceedings of Jirga. Decency, smoothness of the trial, and decorum of the Jirga is highly ensured during the whole process.
 After hearing both the parties and in the light of witnesses the Jirga officially announces its decision. The decisions in based on ShariaPashtunwali, local traditions and fair play. Every possible effort is made to reach a fair and pragmatic solution to the problem. Wealth, Social status and political power of any party do not influence the decision of Jirga in any case. In case of very sensitive matters like murder, abduction etc a Quranic oath is taken which is necessary to prove one’s innocence, as religion is the highest authority in Pashtun society. The decision is based on the consensus of majority members of the Jirga council. The Jirgamembers ask the related parties before it announces its verdict to the public. The decision of Jirga becomes an obligation and both the parties have to respect theJirga decision.
The Jirga system does not take the right from either party of appealing against the decision of Jirga council. The unsatisfied party can appeal on the basis of precedents and rules called “Narkh” and have the right to reject the decision of Jirga Council. The Jirga council may face difficulty in revising its decision in case when different tribes have different Narkhs on the same issue. In that case the appealing party can call for an another  Jirga gathering the decision of which is considered final. (Shinwari 110)
The Pushtoon Jirga exclusively enjoys the role of Judiciary, Executive and Legislature. In case if any party fails to respect the decision of Jirga called “Makh Arawal” meaning “turning of face”, than the Jirga council has the right to impose its judgment by any means. Sanctions are imposed on the rebellious party which may range from imposition of heavy fines, confiscation of weapons and ex-communication with non complying party depending upon the seriousness of matter. If still the party refuses to follow the decision of Jirga than the Jirga has the right to burn down the house of non-complying party by sending Lashkar ‘The tribal Army”. Also in disobeying the decision of Jirga, the dissident party may lose the protection right ensured by the Jirga and may be killed by his opponents.
In absence of Government Judicial system in tribal areas, Jirga system provides Pashtun with an effective way of attaining cheap and speedy Justice. Moreover it enriches the very basic foundations of Pashtun culture and tradition by ensuring the maintenance of peace and justice in Pashtun society. It provides protection to the poor and weak from being oppressed by the rich and strong. Even when many progressed societies still lack an affective judicial system, thePashtun Jirga system has been quite successful in dispensing justice. It adheres to the principles of equality and fairness for all, an accomplishment many judicial systems are still struggling to achieve.

Works Cited
Pakistan Assessment 2010." South Asia Terrorism Portal. Web. 16 Apr. 2010. <http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/>
Ahmad, Javed. "Unwan”.Weekly Amoor Jan 2009:34-35.print
Yasir, Naveed. "Waziristan”.Akhbar e Jahan March 2009:38-39:print
Ahmad, Javed. "Unwan”.Weekly Amoor Jan 2009:34-35.print

Written By: Waqas Sikandari

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