March 28, 2017
Of the 280 practising lawyers in Quetta, 56 were killed and 92 were injured in a blast at Civil Hospital last year. With courts completely closed for the following three months and lawyers boycotting in protest until very recently, people saw no choice but to head to jirgas to resolve their issues.
Quetta weeps again
weeps againAbdul Hafiz is one such person. His young son Jalal remained in jail for four months because his lawyer was killed in the explosion and courts stopped working. “A fellow villager tried to illegally build a shop on our land and my son got into a fight with him. In such cases, court grants bail in the second or third hearing but my son languished in jail for so long because he didn’t have any legal aid,” Hafiz shares.
After hiring a new lawyer, the helpless father says, he got his son out of the jail and registered his case with a jirga to get swift justice.
Jirgas are seen as an easy source of justice as they require no money and the matter is resolved in a month or two. Headed by tribal elders and religious clerics, the jirgas base their decisions on consensus in the light of Islamic laws and local traditions. One of these is Balochistan Aman Jirga, which is made up of Pashtun, Baloch, Hazara and Punjabi elders in Quetta. It is currently working on 500 major and minor cases.