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Critical Discourse Analysis: Jirga and its Survival in Pakistan

Lal Zaman1, Qaisar Khan2 and Arab Naz3

The government of Pakistan has decided to merge Federally Administered Tribal
Areas (FATA) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, this merger is not ceremonial. It
would result in the union of two parallel if not contradictory life styles. The tribal people
take pride in their age-old traditions and institutions. Among them, Jirga system has
survived and has offered a forum for the people to resolve their issues as an alternate to the
formal judicial system in Pakistan. With the advent of new era after the merger, Jirga will
lose its colour in the legal framework. The present study examines the transition and
investigates perceptions towards Jirga System. The argument is guided by Bourdieu’s
cultural capital and the neomarxist cultural theory that assumes discourses as producing
and articulating broader social movements and ideological interests. The focus of the study
is the future of Jirga system in Tribal Areas and the level of interest of people in this
traditional system for conflict resolution. The study is based on qualitative discourse
generated in Bajaur Agency. An Interview guidehas been used while interviewing a
sample of 30 participants aged 40 and above including community elders and female
school teachers through purposive sampling technique. The study illustrates that change in
the status of FATA will also affect the Jirga system in its traditional role. The findings
reveal that the hardships faced by victims make Jirga system less sought for option.
However, the formal judicial courts and the legal procedure are, according to many,
costlier in terms of time and money besides access. Following the culturally relevant
perspective, the study recommends proactive measures and engagement at all levels for
the formal judicial system to deliver and replace Jirga.

Keywords: jirga, discourse, fata, future merger, dispute