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Naheed Jahangir

PESHAWAR: Experts in Badloon program of TNN have welcomed the shifting of courts and deputy commissioners offices inside merged tribal districts.

Mohmand District Bar Council President Gul Rehman Advocate, and politicians and members of Tanzim Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat Mujeebullah Shinwari and Shafiq Shinwari took part in the discussion.

Gul Rehman Advocate said office of PA Khyber, who has now become deputy commissioner, was in Peshawar since long and the PA office of Mohmand was in Ghallanai.

“Now all deputy commissioners have been asked to shift their offices to tribal districts. It will benefit the people as they will now reach the DC office by spending Rs100 or Rs200, while they had to spent Rs500 or even more to do so previously. As far as shifting of judiciary is concerned, bar associations are active in all tribal districts. Lawyers on individual basis can make different associations and register with the bar council,” he said.

Gul Rehman said judicial complexes of Bajaur and Mohmand, which were earlier working in Timergara and Shabqadar, have been shifted inside tribal districts with session judges, senior sessions judges and other staff.

“Resolution of problems of the staff will take time. Lawyers also have limited space and they sit in a small bar room. Constriction of full-fledged judicial complexes will take time. We have no issues with the existing problems as we want to facilitate litigants. Shifting of judicial and administrative offices inside merged districts will reduce expenses of people and they will get easy access to justice,” he said.

Gul Rehman Advocate said a deputy commissioner heads the administrative set up, he issues domicile certificates, looks after law and order and ensures check and balance in other departments. He said DC is representative of the provincial government in a district who pinpoints problems of his districts to government. He said the previous system of Jirgas and FCR has come to an end and now the judicial system will look after these matters.

“The system of Pakhtuns is close to Islamic teachings which protect women’s rights and the practice of Swara has almost ended now. As far as the practice of divorce is concerned, a woman can approach the court for it, but in our tribal culture women don’t go for divorce even if they face very difficult circumstances. Tribal women don’t take any such step without consent of their parents. There may be some issues of share of women in ancestral property, but we have the institution of mosque and hujra (male guest house) to resolve these issues and address grievances of parties to a dispute. We live in a society where our family issues are not hidden from others and we make sure that our women get all their due rights and no one faces injustice. I believe that very few women will approach the courts, but those who come to courts will get full legal assistance,” he said.

Gul Rehman Advocate said problems of local people will reduce by 50 percent with shifting of courts and offices. Previously, he said, the people used to go to Landikotal where they attested domicile certificate from tehsildar and deputy and the take it to Peshawar for further processing.

“This practice cost at least Rs.5,000 for making of a domicile. There was no audit of the agency funds. Now people of tribal citizens will get proper challan from the National Bank about transactions. That difficult process will come to end and an applicant will get his domicile certificates easily,” he said.

The legal expert said police stations are yet to be established in tribal districts, but the posts of Levies and Khassadars have been converted into police stations. “Now we have police stations in Yakka Ghund, Upper Mohmand, Haleemzai and Safi. Some experts have been transferred to our areas from Mardan, Charsadda and Peshawar who file FIRs in police stations. Women can also approach these police stations to file their cases,” he said.

Gul Rehman said shifting of administrative offices in tribal districts will save time and money of local citizens. “If DC office is shifted to Jamrud, then travel expenses citizens from Landikotal will reduce as travel to Peshawar costs more and consumes more time. Other problems will also be resolved gradually with shifting of offices inside tribal districts,” he said.

Mujeeb Shinwari while taking part in the discussion said the situation in tribal districts is even better from city areas and shifting of judicial system to tribal districts is an important ingredient of merger process. “I went to Hayatabad Phase-7 in Peshawar, where judicial complex for Khyber district has been set up temporarily, and saw that people were facing a lot of difficulties there. Shifting of offices to merged districts will make the access of people to these offices easier. Most of people cannot afford travel and other expenses for coming to Peshawar. Therefore, I support shifting of offices to tribal districts as quickly as possible to reduce the difficulties of people,” he said.

Mujeeb Shinwari said people were fed up with Jirga system as instead of resolving problems, the Jirga elders from the political system used to take money from rival parties by using different methods. He said a separate place should have been dedicated for judicial complex in North Waziristan. “We also need girls college, so shifting of judicial complex to girls college building is not a good step. Girls college should stay on its place and another place should be specified for judicial complex,” he said.

Mujeeb Shinwari said a good Jirga can assist the courts in handle some cases. “In case of conflict between two parties, a Jirga can approach the court with an agreement between the two groups for patch-up. Judicial system can bring positive impact on Jirga system as criminal cases run in the courts for as long as 50 years. Jirgas can manage patch up between rival sides and present the reconciliation agreement in the courts to resolve cases on fast track basis,” he said.

The Ahle Sunnat leader said law treats everyone equally. “The system in which I have grown up provides full protection to women’s rights. There may be some mistakes, but the whole system of tribal traditions is not bad. A single bad incident should not be cited everywhere and the whole system cannot be questioned. Currently, we are under the 1973 Constitution which gives equal rights to men and women. I firmly believe that the claim of violation of women’s rights in tribal districts is not true,” he said.

Shafiq Shinwari said most of people in tribal districts are supporting the new system. However, he said, they are facing difficulties due to lack of judicial and administrative offices. “It is the responsibility of the government to provide facilities to people after the merger. Shifting of courts inside tribal districts will facilitate the people,” he said.