Source: (2014) Law & Society Review. 48(3):531-561.

Pakistan state law and Taliban rule of Sharia law are at different ends of a politico-legal spectrum. They share advocacy of one system of law and attraction to eradication of alternatives. Muslahathi Committees in Pakistan are used to explore legal pluralism, hybrid institutions that allow deliberative democracy to seek workable responses to injustice. Formal and traditional systems can show mutual respect and check each other. On the basis of purely qualitative evidence, it is argued that Muslahathi Committees are restorative justice programs that sustainably reduce revenge violence, make a contribution to preventing Pakistan from spiraling into civil war, and assist a police force with low legitimacy to become somewhat more accountable to local civil society. These contributions are limited, but could be more significant with modest investment in human rights and gender awareness training to control abuses and increase accountability. The ruthless, murderous, divisive politics of policing and restorative justice in Pakistan seems a least likely case for deliberative democracy to work. In limited ways it does. (authors' abstract)