....How would you describe the elders’ contribution towards conflict resolution and peacebuilding?
Due to the prolonged, expensive, corrupt and win/lose character and situation of the criminal justice system, decisions taken in the court system result in hostility and enmity for years after, since in the official system there is no reconciliation. One of the best aspects of the “Muslahathi” (reconciliation) committees is that they can resolve, reconcile, rehabilitate and follow up the parties until full-fledged friendly, brotherly relationships are established, and enmities are finished once and for all.
Why “Muslahathi committees”?
Muslahathi in our language means to make wrongs right, while adal, means justice done. So Muslahathi committees are concerned with making wrong right, preferably with reconciliation, while adal (justice) is done by the court.
Is it correct to say that these committees are a new “modernized version” of the jirga system of elder councils?
Yes, the Muslahathi committee is a new version of the jirga. The jirga worked according to the traditional practices, but their decisions were verbal, and women were not allowed to participate. In contrast, the Muslahathi committee decisions are taken according to modern scientific principles of conflict transformation, peace building, and restorative justice. Every decision is written down and registered. Women are also trained (forming their own committees) and a connection is made to the male committees. However the women’s decisions mostly take effect at the community level because of the strict rules of cultural and religious traditional practices.
How do you choose the elders?
We choose people with good reputations. Since the police know the communities well, this is verified by the police intelligence agencies, and their track records are selected by the high police officials.