Full Article from Economist.com
"Compensation typically involves exchanging a 15-year-old, a ten-year-old and a five-year-old girl, to be married into three succeeding generations of the enemy clan."

Pushtunwali Tribal Code

Honour Among Them

Dec 19th, 2006 | GARDEZ AND PESHAWAR
From The Economist print edition



PAKISTAN: Northwest Frontier Province - It is over 250 years since Afghanistan was cobbled together, from many ethnic groups, and two centuries since British colonisers tried stretching their writ to India's (now Pakistan's) north-western frontier, where the plains crumple up towards the Hindu Kush. Yet, in both places, a large part of the population is still wedded to Pushtunwali. Some 15m Pushtuns live in Afghanistan, or 50% of its population; and 28m in Pakistan, mostly in NWFP, representing about 15% of the population there. Most of them are ruled by their tribal code, the notable exception being where the rival Islamist code, of the stringent Saudi variety which is preached by the Taliban and quite new to Afghanistan, is strong. Islamism has rivalled Pushtunwali for centuries; it has often gained prominence, as currently, in time of war. More typically, the two competing ways have cross-fertilised in Afghanistan, each subtly influencing the other...........

His honour besmirched......A Pushtun is obliged to have his revenge, or badal. Last year, in one of the myriad such examples that arise in conversations in northern Pakistan and Afghanistan, the daughter of a prominent businessman in Gardez, Paktia's capital, eloped with her beau. So the businessman sold up his property, moved to Kabul and tracked down and killed his daughter's lover. His daughter, whom he must also kill if the stain is to be removed, has been given sanctuary by a human-rights organisation. Her prospects are not good. According to a Pushtu saying: “A Pushtun waited 100 years, then took his revenge. It was quick work.”

A juddering two-hour drive from Peshawar, at Jamrud, in Khyber Agency, a 60-strong jirga recently settled half a dozen cases in a day—more than a bent Pakistani magistrate might manage in a week.

A man accused of “adultery”, of rape in fact, was told to pay 1m Pakistani rupees ($16,500) to his victim's family; he may thank his stars he had lived so long...........

To settle disputes, Mr Kuchi (Haji Naim Kuchi, the chief mediator, or narkhi, and member of a different Ahmedzai clan) has two main options. He can order a guilty party to compensate its victim with cash, a practice known as wich pur, “dry debt”, or he can order the two parties to exchange women, or lund pur, “wet debt”. By binding the antagonists together—just as in medieval European diplomacy—lund pur is considered more effective. Typically it involves exchanging a 15-year-old, a ten-year-old and a five-year-old girl, to be married into three succeeding generations of the enemy clan. Thereby, and though human-rights groups understandably revile the practice, Pushtuns have peace and happy grandfathers. “Blood cannot wash away blood,” runs a Pushtu proverb. “But blood can be turned into love.”

Over the past millennium or so, the Pushtuns' religious and tribal codes have roughly co-existed. As a mark of a time-honoured accommodation, Pushtun elders and mullahs often insist there is no contradiction between the two prerogatives. “The sharia and jirga systems are not opposed,” said Maulvi Sayeed, a member of the Muslim council, or shura, in Kandahar, capital of southern Afghanistan. “To solve a problem through the use of a shura, a council, is the aim of both. The jirga is not against sharia law.

Another big difference between the codes is in their treatment of women. In sharia law, there can be no exchange of women as a means to end disputes, and women are guaranteed some rights of inheritance—unlike in Pushtunwali. Nor does sharia law recognise the Pushtun habit of wife inheritance, wherein a widow is forcibly married to her dead husband's brother or cousin. “Such things happen when people are uneducated,” sniffed Maulvi Sayeed. “We don't oppose the system of tribal elders but they must follow the way of Islam. They can convene jirgas and dispense the law, but the law must be that of sharia.”.....................................






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