Restorative justice: Updating Jirga in NWFP Pakistan
Mar 01, 2010
I and my partner, Sarah Bird, met Ali Gohar when we travelled to Pakistan to teach Energy Psychology techniques for treating PTSD after the earthquake of October 2005. This article from Peacebuilder magazine tells about the amazing work Ali is doing with the traditional restorative justice circle, called 'jirga'...
Ali Gohar, MA ’02, is working to update the traditional system of jirga in the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. He believes passionately in the core function of jirga, whereby certain elders are recognized in their communities for their wisdom and ethics; these elders gather to make community-wide decisions, resolve problems, and dispense justice.
Gohar has been encouraging jirga’s elders to incorporate current principles of human rights, conflict resolution, reconciliation, and restorative justice into their deliberations.
These photos, taken in Mardan, 45 kilometers from the provincial
capital of Peshawar, show such relationship building. Malik Naveed
(pictured speaking at podium),is the top police official for the North
West Frontier Province (NWFP), one of the border areas gripped by the
“war on terror.”
Naveed not only appeared at this Gohar-organized public gathering on February 2, 2010, he announced that “reconciliation committees” would be meeting regularly with community elders at each of the 17 police stations in Mardan. Naveed expressed hope that “fear and terror about police officials in the hearts of the people would be eradicated and trust and brotherhood restored in society,” according to a report in a Pakistani newspaper.
This large public meeting – notably attended by women – reflects Gohar’s efforts to see that all parties have a common understanding of the principles of conflict transformation, jirga and restorative justice. Each reconciliation committee is mandated to include three women, an unprecedented step.