HR groups oppose move to legalize jirgas
KARACHI – Three human rights organizations commenting on the provincial government’s reported step towards incorporating feudal practices into the structure of government, has termed it an attempt to create a parallel system of justice, which goes against women and the common man.
No steps were taken after a jirga was held at the Chief Minister House last month, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Aurat Foundation and Women’s Action Forum said in a joint statement.
They added: ” Now in a bolder move, an ordinance will be promulgated which will legitimize jirgas in Sindh.”
The three organizations stated that, in an unprecedented move, the “Sindh Amicable Settlement of Disputes Ordinance 2004” declared all jirgas to be legal.
“This is a blatant move which is intended to cancel all efforts of civil society organizations, as well as the Sindh High Court, to uproot the jirga system,” Ms Nadia Haroon, Ms Anis Haroon and Uzma Noorani of the HR organizations said.
Jirgas combine the function of legislature, judiciary and executive, creating a dangerous concentration of power, which was easily misused, adding the move would serve to further weaken the judiciary and eventually democracy. The very language used in the ordinance reflected a feudal mindset, they viewed.
According to them, the ordinance prohibited legal proceedings against individuals who participated in a jirga, thereby providing immunity to people who misused their power. This would further weaken the rule of law.The governor must not promulgate the ordinance, as it went against his past promises, they asserted. The federal government too must take notice of the state of affairs in Sindh. There was clear evidence of a steady decline in institutions, which provided the basis of democracy and justice, the women activists said.
There was no urgency in the matter and, therefore, there was no need to pass the ordinance in the presence of an elected government, they maintained. “The issue should be debated and discussed in the provincial assembly before a decision was taken.”
In addition, the “Removal from Service (Special Power) Sindh Ordinance 2004” was promulgated by the governor giving the chief minister powers to remove public servants.
The activists contended that it was a dangerous trend with power slowly being concentrated in the hands of the chief minister.