A jirga (occasionally jarga or jargah; Pashto: جرګه) is a
traditional assembly of leaders that make decisions by consensus and
according to the teachings of Pashtunwali. It predates modern-day
written or fixed-laws and is conducted to settle disputes among the
Pashtun people but to a lesser extent among other nearby groups that
have been influenced by Pashtuns (historically known as Afghans). Its
primary purpose has been to prevent tribal war. Most jirgas are
Afghanistan but also among the Pashtun tribes in
neighboring Pakistan, especially in Federally Administered Tribal
Areas (FATA) and
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). In 2017, the Pakistani
government was aiming to integrate jirgas into the formal justice
According to The Economist, “barbarism has become synonymous with
jirgas” due to their use of punishments such as gang-rape, although,
others view such punishments as rare and originating from illiterate
2 See also
4 External links
The community council meaning is often found in circumstances
involving a dispute between two individuals; a jirga may be part of
the dispute resolution mechanism in such cases. The disputants would
usually begin by finding a mediator, choosing someone such as a senior
religious leader, a local notable, or a mediation specialist (a khan
or Malik). In tribal Pashtun society the Maliks serve as de facto
arbiters in local conflicts, interlocutors in state policy-making,
tax-collectors, heads of village and town councils and delegates to
provincial and national jirgas as well as to Parliament. The mediator
hears from the two sides and then forms a jirga of community elders,
taking care to include supporters of both sides. The jirga then
considers the case and, after discussing the matter, comes to a
decision about how to handle it, which the mediator then announces.
The jirga's conclusion is binding.
The jirga was also used as a court in cases of criminal conduct, but
this usage is being replaced by formal courts in some settled areas of
Pakistan and Afghanistan, elsewhere it is still used as courts in
The jirga holds the prestige of a court in the tribal areas of
Pakistan. Although a political agent appointed by the national
government maintains law and order through the Frontier Crimes
Regulation (FCR), the actual power lies in the jirga. The political
agent maintains law and order in his tribal region with the help of
jirgas. The jirga can award capital punishment, such as stoning to
death in case of adultery, or expulsion from the community.
The Sindh High
Court imposed a ban on the holding of jirgas in April
2004 because of the sometimes inhumane sentences awarded to people,
especially women and men who marry of their own free will. The ban,
however, has been ignored.
In the recent military operations against al Qaeda and the
Pakistan's restive southern tribal agencies bordering Afghanistan,
jirgas played a key role of moderator between the government and the
militants. The tradition of jirga has also been adopted by Muslims in
Kashmir valley of Indian-administered Kashmir.
An all-female jirga Khwaindo jirga ("sister's council") was held in
Pakistan, and had 25 members. It was headed by Tabbassum Adnan
which helped 11 women get justice as of 2013.
Loya jirga ("Grand jirga"), a large jirga called to discuss a
particularly important event.
Wolesi Jirga ("People's Jirga"), the lower house of the Afghan
Meshrano Jirga ("Elders' Jirga"), the upper house of the Afghan
Nanawatai (nanawate), meaning "sanctuary".
Shura, the Arabic equivalent of jirga.
Panchayat north Indian equivalent of jirga.
Khap equivalent of jirga of mainly
Jat people of
north and north-east parts of
Rajasthan state and proposed Harit
Pradesh state covering
Western Uttar Pradesh
Western Uttar Pradesh in India.
Misl equivalent of jirga of mainly
Jat people of Punjab (region).
^ a b "
Pakistan is "mainstreaming" misogynist tribal justice". The
Economist. 13 October 2017.
^ SBLR 2004 Sindh 918; excerpt
^ SHC seeks official version against jirgas (2012-12-08)
^ Muzaffar Raina (2006-10-30). "Justice rolls in Kashmir, Afghan-style
- Jilted, sheep stolen' Some people in the Valley never go to police
but pin faith on a time-tested tribal system to settle disputes and
redress grievances". The Telegraph - Calcutta, India. Retrieved
^ a b Khurram Shahzad (2013-07-11). "Women challenge men in Pakistan's
first female jirga". Fox News. AFP. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
^ Jennifer Rowland; Bailey Cahall (2013-07-11). "President Asif Ali
Zardari's security chief killed in bazaar attack". Foreign Policy.
Retrieved 2013-11-26. section= ignored (help)
Pakistan court bans all trials under
Afghan women push for inclusion in Peace Jirga
Jirga system in tribal life
Shah, Ali Shan; Tariq, Shahnaz (2013), "Implications of Parallel
Justice System (Panchyat and Jirga) on Society" (PDF), Asian Journal
of Social Sciences and Humanities, 2 (2): 200