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



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.


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