Integrated Justice in Pakistan: From Legal Pluralism to Normative Convergence

  • Tahir Mahmood Bahria University, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Sajjad Ali Khan Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan, Department of International Relations
  • Shahab Sarwar COMSATS University, Department of Development Studies
Keywords: legal pluralism, ADRM, judicial efficacy, Jirga, court, Convergence


Legal pluralism, throughout most of developing countries, has been extant since the onset of colonial era. Manifested in a variety of forms, legal pluralism is inherently characterized by both promises as well as limitations. In Pakistan, legal pluralism is epitomized by the prevalence and functioning of parallel systems of justice such as formal courts and Alternate Dispute Resolution Mechanism (ADRM), such as “Jirga. Poor coordination and tenuous enforcement mechanisms, however, render the formal justice system in Pakistan one of poorest performers in terms of judicial efficacy world-wide. This article seeks to explore the possibility of a convergence between traditional and modern models of dispute resolution, i.e. Jirga and court system and the resultant efficacy thereof through devising a conceptual framework. The framework reveals that both formal courts and Jirga demonstrate marked discrepancies concerning their efficacy with respect to the provision of justice and dispute resolution. Findings from the field, however, evince that Jirga stand out to be a relatively more effective mechanism of dispute resolution than formal courts. The conceptual framework, however, implies that by converging both systems it is possible to cope with the limitations of each of the two systems such that while courts could provide legal legitimacy to the Jirga by improving its decency and accountability through regulations, Jirga could enhance the legitimacy of courts by improving its accessibility and transparency through feedback mechanisms. The article concludes by way of arguing that instead of parting ways with each other, both courts and jirga shall seek to go hand in hand in order avoid delays in the  provision of justice.


Aggarwal, D. D. (2002) Jurisprudence in India: Through Ages (Delhi: Gyan Publishing House).

Alexander, N. M. (Ed.). (2006) Global trends in mediation (Volume 1) (London: Kluwer Law International).

Lind, E. A., & Tyler, T. R. (1988). The social psychology of procedural justice (New York & London: Plenum Press).

Ambos, K., Large, J., & Wierda, M. (Eds.). (2008) Building a Future on Peace and Justice: Studies on Transitional Justice, Peace and Development The Nuremberg Declaration on Peace and Justice (Berlin: Springer Science & Business Media).

Ansari, K. M. (2005) Corruption and forensic accounting. Ohio CPA Journal, 9(2), 94-100.

Atayee, M. I. (1979) A Dictionary of the Terminology of Pashtun's Tribal Customary Law and Usages (Kabul: International Centre for Pashto Studies, Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan).

Bakshi, S. R. (1991) History of the Punjab: Maharaja Ranjit Singh (New Delhi: Anmol Publications).

Bangas, D. M. (n.d.) Jirga: Speedy Justice of Elders, available at: (Jan 6, 2013).

Baras, A. (2004) The Mechanics of Honor in Pakistan. Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), 3(5), 2.

Bernard, H. R. (2011) Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (California: Rowman Altamira).

Birx, J. (2006) Encyclopedia of anthropology (Vol. 1) (New York: Sage Publications).

Bühring-Uhle, C., Kirchhoff, L., & Scherer, G. (2006). Arbitration and mediation in international business (Second Edition) (The Netherland: Kluwer Law International).

Chaddopadhyay, H. P. & Baghel, I. (2009) Indian Administration: volume 1 (New Delhi: Global Publishing House).

Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis (London: SAGE Publications).

Dennys, C., & Marjana. (2012) The Jirga: justice and conflict transformation (London: Safer World).

Deutsch, M. (1975) Equity, equality, and need: What determines which value will be used as the basis of distributive justice?. Journal of Social issues, 31(3), 137-149.

Feroz-ul-lughat (1980) Dictionary of Persian and Urdu (Lahore: Feroz Sons Limited).

Egan, J. (2010) From Misery to Hope: Encountering God in the Abyss of Suffering (Volume 5) (Peter Lang).

Faqeer, H. (2007). The Judicial System of Pakistan. Law & Justice Commission of Pakistan.

Faizzad, M. (1989) Jirga Haie Bozorge Milie Afghanistan, Lahore.

Feagin, J. R., Orum, A. M., & Sjoberg, G. (Eds.). (1991) A case for the case study (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press).

Khan, A. G. (1994) The Pathans (Peshawar: Frontier Post Publications).

Ghous, M. J. (2005) ADR In Pakistan And Other Countries. Alternate Dispute Resolution. Karachi: Institute of Cost and Management.

Edwards, H. T. (1986). Alternative dispute resolution: Panacea or anathema? Harvard Law Review, 99(3), 668-684.

Hennink, M., Hutter, I., & Bailey, A. (2010) Qualitative Research Methods (London: SAGE Publications Ltd).

Hussain, F. ( 2011) The Judicial System of Pakistan (Islamabad: Supreme Court of Pakistan).

Hyden, G., Court, J. & Mease, K. (2005) Making Sense of Governance: Empirical Evidence from Sixteen Developing Countries (India: Viva Books).

International Crisis Group (2010) Reforming Pakistan’s Criminal Justice System (Brussels: International Crisis Group).

Khan, F. S. (2004) Quest for Justice: Judicial System in Pakistan (Network Publications).

Krueger, R. A. (1994) Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research (California: SAGE Publications).

Kumar, R. (2003) Essays on Legal Systems in India (Delhi: Discovery Publishing House).

Lawrence, a. b., Sherman, W., & Heather, S. (2007). Restorative Justice: The Evidence (London: The Smith Institute).

Lofland, J. & Lofland, L. (1984) Analyzing Social Settings: A Guide to Qualitative Observation and Analysis (California: Wadsworth Publishing Company).

McGillis, D. ( 1997) Community Mediation Programs: Developments and Challenges, Issues and practices in criminal justice (USA: DIANE Publishing).

Marmor, A. (2007). Law in the Age of Pluralism (New York: Oxford University Press).

Menon, N. R., & Banerjea, D. (2002) Criminal Justice India Series, Volume 9 (West Bengal: Allied Publishers).

Mohmand, S. M. K. (2003) The Pathan Customs (Peshawar).

National Judicial Committee (2009) National Judicial Policy (Islamabad: Secretariat, Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan).

Okafọ, N. (2009) Reconstructing law and justice in a post colony (London: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.).

Oppenheim, A. N. (1992) Questionnaire Design, Interviewing and Attitude Measurement (New York: Continuum International Publishing Group).

Patton, M. Q. (1990) Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods (California: SAGE Publications).

PILAP, ( 2011) Access to Justice, a petition filed in Supreme Court of Pakistan by the Public Interest Law Association of Pakistan, available at (May 22, 2018).

Punch, K. F. (2005) Introduction to social research: quantitative and qualitative Approaches (Indiana: SAGE Publication).

Puri, S. (2012) Pakistan's War on Terrorism: Strategies for Combating Jihadist Armed Groups since 9/11 (New York: Routledge).

Puymbroeck, R. (2001) Comprehensive Legal and Judicial Development: Toward an Agenda for a Just and Equitable Society in the 21st Century (New York: World Bank Publications).

Quraishi, M. T. (1986) Riding the spears: the contemporary Muslim world (Maryland: Amana Corp).

Rabasa, A., Boraz, S., Chalk, P., Cragin, K., & Karasik, T. W. (2007) Ungoverned territories: Understanding and reducing terrorism risks (Santa Monica: Rand Corporation).

Rawls, J. (1972) A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press).

Rawls, J. (1999). A Theory of Justice (revised edition) (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press).

Robert, N. (1981) Philosophical Explanations (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).

Royal Commission (1856) Reforms of Judicial Establishments, Judicial Procedure and Laws of India (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office).

Sarfaraz, K. A. (2006) LokAdalat: An Effective Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism (New Delhi: APH Publishing).

Schofield, V. (1984) Every Rock Every Hill: A Plain Tail of the North West Frontier and Afghanistan (London: Buchan & Enright).

Scialabba, N. (1998) Integrated coastal area management and agriculture, forestry and fisheries: FAO guidelines (New York: Food & Agriculture Organization).

Shahidullah, M. (2012) Comparative Criminal Justice Systems: Global and Local Perspectives (Burlington: Jones & Bartlett Publishers).

Sharan, M. K. (1978) Court procedure in ancient India (Abhinav Publications).

Sharma, B. (1989) Judiciary on Trial (New Delhi, India: Deep & Deep Publications).

Shoukat Dawood, E.-M.P.-u.-M. (2002) Panchayat System (Islamabad).

Sind Judicial Academy (2009) An Evaluation Report on Informal Justice System in Pakistan, available at: (May 22, 2018).

Singh, A., & Zahid, N. A. (eds.). (2009) Strengthening Governance through Access to Justice. (New Delhi: PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd.)

Siraj, A. (2013) An Analysis of the Judicial Policy 2009, unpublished work available with the scholar at COMSAT University, Abbottabad.

Sourdin, T. (2004) Alternate Dispute Resolution and The Courts (New South Wales: Federation Press).

Souryal, S. (2010) Ethics in Criminal Justice: In Search of the Truth (Cambridge: Elsevier Inc.).

Spain, J. W. (1990) The Way of the Pathans (Karachi: Oxford University Press).

Sustainable Development Policy Institute (1998) The informal sector in Pakistan (Michigan, USA: Vanguard).

Taizi, D. S. (2007) Jirga System in Tribal Life (Peshawar: Area Study Centre (Russia, China and Central Asia), University of Peshawar).

Thygerson, K. J. ( 1994) Controlling Corporate Legal Costs: Negotiation and ADR Techniques for Executive (Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group).

Transparency International Pakistan (2010) National Corruption Perception Survey, available at: (September 30, 2018).

UNDP (2004) Access to Justice, available at: (September 30, 2018).

United Nation Rule of Law (2008) UN Common Approach to Justice for Children, available at: (September 30, 2018).

Waleed, H. (2008) Question of Credibility (Lahore: The Daily Jang).

WJP (2011) Rule of Law Index (Washington: World Justice Project).

Woolford, A., & Ratner, R. S. (2008) Informal reckonings: Conflict resolution in mediation, restorative justice, and reparations (London: Routledge-Cavendish).

Yousufzai, H. M& Ali, G. (2005).Towards Understanding Pukhtoon Jirga: An indigenous way of Peace building (Peshawar: Just Peace International).

Zia, M., & Butt, R. ( 2012). Pakistan NGO Alternative Report on CEDAW 2005-2009 (Islamabad: Aurat Publication and Information Service Foundation).