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Towards Understanding Pukhtoon Jirga.

Yousufzai, Hassan
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) Peshawar, Pakistan: Just Peace International. Downloaded 14 October 2005.

The Pukhtoon peoples – that is, those who share certain ethnic roots and the Pukhtoon language – live in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. One of their longest standing cultural traditions or institutions is the jirga. It is a public assembly – involving political, legal, and social elements – for the settling of public and private issues and conflicts. In this booklet, Hassan Yousufzai and Ali Gohar introduce and explain the jirga for those not familiar with it. They began this project based in part on their experiences as Pakistani Muslims who arrived at Eastern Mennonite University to study conflict transformation – only a few days before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against targets in the United States. They ask how, in the era of globalization, contemporary people should treat ancient, indigenous institutions like the jirga. Should modern institutions simply overwhelm and push aside older institutions? Or, is there a way whereby modern, more codified systems can benefit from and work together with traditional systems? To explore all of this, they interviewed a wide range of individuals and groups with knowledge of and experience with the Pukhtoon jirga. Thus Yousufzai and Gohar document and present the dynamics of the jirga, discuss it as a peace-building body, characterize it as a grass-roots organization, and speculate on the future of the jirga.


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