Monday, 16 June 2014

Allternate Dispute Resolution and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police

By Syed Fida Hassan Shah

The Oxford Dictionary defines Alternate Dispute Resolution as dispute resolution processes and techniques that act as a means for disagreeing parties to come to an agreement short of litigation. It is a collective term for the ways that parties can settle disputes with the help of a third party.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, characterized by Pakhtunwali code, has preserved its traditions and culture for centuries. In Pakhtun society the tradition of resolving disputes amicably through the intervention of elders has been practiced for centuries. The province has historically been influenced by traditional and community owned institutions – like the jirga system – that have played an important role in the daily lives of the local communities. The jirga system in other parts of the country has mostly been regarded as unjust and in violation of basic human rights. However, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Tribal Areas it has been more egalitarian than in other parts of Pakistan. The presence of a jirga system in most parts of the province has been really helpful to the local communities to sustain themselves. However, the menace of terrorism and militancy in the province and adjoining Tribal Areas, apart from disrupting law and order situation has totally destroyed a strong tradition of disputes resolution through reconciliation.

After taking over as IGP Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police, Mr. Nasir Khan Durrani has initiated many reform processes to make it more democratic, responsive and people friendly police. By taking forward the traditional and historical systems of the province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police under its new leadership has started a new initiative of Alternate Dispute Resolution. The project was initiated two months back with the establishment Disputes Resolution Councils for City Division in Capital City Police Peshawar. Prominent and apolitical members representing cross section of the civil society including professionals, retired judges, retired civil and armed forces officers, educationists, religious scholars, lawyers, journalists and members from business community have been taken as members of the first Dispute Resolution Council (DRC). Two DRCs, one for City and one for Cantonment Area have already been launched in the Capital City Peshawar. Work has already been initiated to gradually roll it out to the rest of the province.

The DRC will be responsible for amicable resolution of disputes, fact finding enquiries and acting as jury in the conduct of contested investigations. All applications and complaints forwarded by police department will be resolved amicably on best efforts basis by the council. The Council will take up only those applications which are referred to it through police. A council member will not take up the case on his own. If any party has any reservation on decision of DRC, it may apply for review. A five member review council, other than the original decision makers, will review the findings.

The DRCs would not take up any case which is sub-judice. They will not involve themselves in complicated civil cases. The members of DRCs would refrain from recommendations that are against the constitution of Pakistan, in violations of basic human rights and are in conflict with the prevalent laws.

The ongoing wave of terrorism and militancy, besides causing other damages, has also resulted in militarization of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police at the cost of normal policing functions. Consequently community policing has become all the more important to share the burden of police department and to ensure free and speedy justice for the common man. The process of Dispute Resolution Councils initiated by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police therefore, seems a step in a right direction.
-The writer belongs to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He contributes to the blog and tweets @charnushah.
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