Thursday, February 7, 2013

Taliban courts in Karachi and a teen with a middle finger

It’s not official yet, but if a local report is to be believed the Taliban have set up courts in Pakistan’s largest city: Karachi.

Isn’t it kinda cool? Everything will be so easy now. There will be lots of jobs for new judges, you wouldn't have to have a special training or degree to become a judge, there won’t be those expensive attorneys, you could be your own attorney, no books read, no precedents followed, there will be no endless hearings (the Taliban like a speedy justice system), and the best part is: it will save a huge amount of money to a broke country, because there will be no forensics, no medical examinations and the justice will be right there, right then. Although there’s one little problem: you wouldn’t be able to appeal in many cases. It’s a little hard to put one’s head back to where it was after it’s chopped off.

This may still look like a joke to a lot of people, like it did when the marching mullahs hadn’t reached other cities of Pakistan, but it is a reality. Like it is a reality in Afghanistan, in many northwestern areas of Pakistan and in some African countries.

And all of these places have one thing in common: an ineffective government with a screwed up justice system.

The only thing surprising about the Taliban courts in Pakistan to me is the madness they operate in. Otherwise the idea of a parallel judicial system is pretty old in Pakistan. Many political and religious parties have had their local courts or judicial system in place. And who doesn’t know about the ‘jirga’ system in Pakistan’s rural areas, where a bunch of old guys settle domestic issues under a tree, sometimes ordering the most brutal punishment to women and the poor.

People will either choose or be forced to go to these courts if the regular courts are a pain in the back. The overall court conviction rate in Pakistan is very poor.

So until Pakistan’s judicial apparatus takes strong roots, stories of the Taliban courts, jirgas and vigilante justice will be regular.

And just an FYI, if you ever have to appear before a Taliban judge, don’t show him you finger.

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