Does Society And Concepts Of Morality Affect Law In Pakistan?

Posted on October 23, 2012 in GlobeScope

By Zawwar Siddiqui and Waleed Tariq

Since the very beginning, Pakistani society has been multicultural and ethnically diverse. More than 60 per cent of the people live within rural areas, where there is less awareness and mostly lack a proper form of civil authority. Therefore, the state possesses little knowledge regarding these areas and has the least sort of involvement to implement any type of order/law. In order to achieve quick justice, people mostly deal with them in a traditional way of dispute resolution known as the ‘Jirga’ system. These are small court set-ups comprising of a few village elders and the decisions are entirely left for them to decide. Yet again, religion being the most supreme source of guidance and reference in a Muslim country like Pakistan, many go according to what Islam teaches and follow the Shariah code.

But, this is not the case always. Many people have the privilege to go to any extent because they are aware and have the surety of the lawlessness around them. In hard times, people living in these tribal localities consider taking up desperate measures even now, which is similar to the wild west of the 1800s.

Morality is regarded as our ideas and understanding of what is right or wrong and how should a behaviour that can said to be right or wrong, shall be punished. Morality can be well described by the following three aspects:

1. To lead people to behave in accordance with the wishes of a divine authority
2. To lead people to behave in a way that benefits the society at-large, rather than their own narrow self interest.
3. To lead people to control their desires and aversions in the belief that this will result in a more satisfying, rewarding and contented way of life

Morality plays a very crucial role when it comes to religion. Take the case where moral behaviour often becomes necessary especially for people with a religious faith; solely for the purpose of spiritual development and to obey Gods will and wishes.

Issues Affecting Pakistan

Terrorism has severely affected Pakistan in recent years, particularly in the last decade. It has threatened our peace, economic stability, solidarity and security. Consequently, due to the increase in terrorist activities being carried out on important organizations, institutions, etc., people living in Pakistan have become very cautious about everything.

Let’s take the cases of suicide bombings that are frequently occurring at several places especially at shopping malls, business organizations, public places, are not only affecting the country economically but also destabilizing the psychological and social status of many Pakistanis. Hence, this has highly affected the attitude of the masses, which has turned from positive to negative.

Since Pakistan is playing a key role in fighting the war on terror, it has imported terrorism because of an important geo-strategic position. Owing to which, the society has paid a far greater cost than the actual one being incurred. The war on terror has also caused thousands of people to migrate from places like FATA, where the war against militants is being fought. Although the state government is facilitating the displaced people, but, the numbers keep on increasing by the day, since the army is getting in the tribal belt to eliminate the Taliban, who are causing tremendous disaster to the society.

Since Pakistan has been the most effective in fighting the war on terror against the Taliban, it continuously becomes an easy target for terrorists. Provided the fact that it has incurred so much damage to itself, it should receive compensation for the damages incurred from the international community to strengthen the country so it doesn’t fall in disparity.

Pakistan requires both financial and moral support of the international community in order to ensure that it can eradicate terrorism more effectively and strengthen the economy and its institutions, where the people will start having more faith and have the ambition to start rebuilding it into a prosperous nation for the upcoming times.

Therefore, in response to terrorism, Pakistan now has anti-terrorism laws. While under the anti-terror mechanism of 1970, only political violence, nationalist movements, sectarian violence or certain criminal offenses were interpreted as acts of terrorism. However, after the 9/11 incident, the existing anti-terror mechanism was strengthened, where now a third member was introduced- Pakistan Army, to manage it more effectively. Therefore under the new law:

1. People supporting terrorist are eligible to face death penalty
2. Entire terrorist networks are being targeted this time
3. Person found guilty has the right to appeal in self-defence
4. Terrorism related cases may be transferred to the new courts


Pakistan came into existence about 65 years ago; however, FATA and Pakhtun societies have existed much long ago. Therefore, rivalries between tribes have always taken place, where two opposition factors fought against one another over disputes. But, before there wasn’t any full-fledged government administered body in these areas to deal with the problem, nor was there any sort of law being implemented where the two opposition factors could go to court and have a tribunal.

Therefore, Jirga (local court) were established for the tribals where an agreement was made by the cooperation of the society’s elders. No doubt these Jirga’s at some time were very effective, especially before the soviet invasion of the 1980 when factions fought one another and the person being accused of carrying out a crime or murdering someone was examined by a local Jirga.

Since these were a form of fast courts; disputes were resolved within a short period of time. The best aspect of these tribal rivalries was that the old traditions were so strong and unique that a person who committed a crime had moral courage to place himself before a Jirga and often surrendered.

Rivalries not only take place on a domestic level, but it crosses our boundaries too like for example take the case with India, who blames Pakistan continuously for exporting terrorism into India. Though, the real concern right now is that since Pakistan is so much involved in the war on terror that it’s not fighting Islamic fanatics but protecting them. And for this reason, India still has not come to good terms with Pakistan.


First thing is that as a nation we have not come up to the standards of morality. The reasons are foremost and simple as of what I can say is that its mainly due to political reasons where the ruling elites are left with the entire decision making of the country, giving no leverage or way for the common man to rise up and have a say.

Secondly, dovetail with media explosion regarding political inducting because of which small nominal issues are demonstrated in an outrageous manner. But, even after all the exploitation and troublesome our country still hasn’t woken up, simply because it’s lacking the basic needs which more than 50 per cent of the country is deprived of such as gas and electricity shortages, unemployment due to political system: Judiciary, Parliament and Military.

Almost all the organizations that lay within the country are slave to the ruling elite. Take examples like the bill being passed in parliament of contempt of court, which exempts the ruling elite from facing charges, but applies to the common people. Due to the levels of morality among the common people, they tend to ignore the situation, although they are aware, but still avoid in putting effort to rectify the system.

As far as drone attacks are concerned, Salala check-post attack and border clash on the Afghan side, we do not consider retaliating at a feasible pace which can bring an end to all the havoc and mishap caused mainly at the northern part of the country. Here, the question arises if a bill can be passed within 24 hours on contempt of court, then why not pass a bill on preventing drone attacks? In order to achieve what we wish for, we need to have a ruling class with determination who have a vision for the nation and should predict the future of the nation and move accordingly.

We saw through history that there was a constant retaliation by the Baloch tribes such as Bugti, Marri and Mengals; solely due to the negligence by the state government to a province which is rich in minerals, gold deposits and tiny population. As a result, it is considered to be a backward region and is allegedly also treated in a way that this part of the country is said to remain paralyzed with no future hope of development or any signs of improvement through means of effort being initiated. Our country is aware of the fact that Baluchistan is a depository box of wealth and since it has been neglecting it for quite some time, the moral and self-esteem of the Baloch people has become so low that some sections have even allegedly demanded a separate Baloch state.

If such retaliation from our own people continues, foreign powers like the United States for example will not stop taking such cases where freedom for the Baloch people is being taken into consideration, solely due to personal interest such as resources and acquiring the strategic location Gwadar; vital for Chinese to build a naval base.


In order for our society to change, we are in need of an evolutionary process not a revolutionary one. And in order to retaliate with today’s issues such as drone strike or cross border conflict is concerned we need to

– Have a ruling class with a brighter vision
– Solve the issue of missing people
– Have less foreign intelligence involvement within Pakistan

In essence, we need to have a revolutionary process erupting in an evolutionary process.

[box bg=”#fdf78c” color=”#000″]About the author: Waleed Tariq is the Pakistan lead of Youth Ki Awaaz. To read his other posts, click here.[/box]