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Sardar Taj Mohammad Domki, a senior politician and influential feudal lord belonging to upper Sindh region, has claimed that he had settled the gang-rape case of a 12-year-old maid and imposed a fine of Rs1.8 million against who he referred to as the “real accused”.

Update: Domki has since been arrested for holding the illegal jirga and arrest warrants have been issued against all those complicit. 

He made this announcement on Sunday, during a press conference at his residence in Kandhkot town.

The 12-year-old girl, a resident of Kandhkot town in Sindh, was working as a maid at a Karachi residence where she was allegedly intoxicated and gang-raped.

Domki however, claimed that the girl “was not gang-raped as claimed by her father Urz Mohammad Golo in a first information report but was raped by a single person”.

The feudal lord expressed his satisfaction over the agreement made by both parties under his supervision.

“The accused had raped the girl in Karachi after assuring her that he would marry her,” he said.

The feudal lord went on to assert that if he had not intervened in the matter, the courts would never have been able to provide her with justice.

Underlining the loopholes in the FIR, he said that the complainant had nominated the father and his two sons, whereas, Domki argued that “it was next to impossible that a minor girl could be raped by two brothers and their father.”

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Sardar Domki further stated that the complainant would now file an application in the court to withdraw the case as per the rules set during a jirga held a few days back.

The feudal lord expressed his satisfaction over the agreement made by both parties under his supervision.

Seven individuals had been named as culprits in the FIR filed by the aggrieved, including Rahib Sorhiani, his two sons and nephews under Sections 337 and 376 of the Pakistan Penal Code on the charges of rape and injuries.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar had also taken a notice of the incident on May 11. The crime reportedly took place in Malir Cantt area of Karachi.

This so-called resolution that has taken place through the arbitration of a feudal lord indicates the supremacy of the jirga system in Sindh.

On April 23, 2004, in a landmark judgment, the Sindh High Court declared the jirga system in Sindh unlawful, illegal, and against the provisions of the Constitution and law of the land.

Jirga system a traditional dispute resolution and political structure prevalent in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It usually involves a gathering of all concerned parties overseen by tribal elders. The tribal elders take into account the stance of all parties involved in the dispute and give a decision on the basis of traditional/religious customs which vary from region to region.

The pitfalls of this system in the modern age are complex and many.

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For one, the variance of the customs makes it near impossible for lawmakers to codify them into law. This means that any and all decisions regarding civil or criminal offenses lie outside the realm of the legal structure of the state.

On April 23, 2004, in a landmark judgment, the Sindh High Court declared the jirga system in Sindh unlawful, illegal, and against the provisions of the Constitution and law of the land.

Hence the police were bound by law to prevent jirgas from operating in their jurisdiction, however, the police have failed to uphold the SHC’s directives.

It is common in Sindh for jirgas to be held in government-owned circuit houses with official patronage and protocol.

Jirgas in Sindh are supervised by feudal lords of the region so naturally, the system is lenient towards those with a powerful family background or conditions. The case of the poor 12-year-old girl is evidence of as much.

Feudal lords, politicians, police, bureaucracy and parliamentarians, of Sindh, are all bound to the strict code of the region which allows the jirga system to flourish.

Difficulty in access to the formal justice system, the partial role of the police, the comparatively absence of cheap and swift justice, huge backlog of pending cases in courts, the dearth of judges and lack of will to legislate against the subversive mindset are some of the reasons of sustenance of the jirga system.

Jirgas in Sindh are supervised by feudal lords of the region so naturally, the system is lenient towards those with a powerful family background or conditions. The case of the poor 12-year-old girl is evidence of as much.

The powerful perpetrators of the heinous crime did not face criminal prosecution and were saved from any punitive action by the state after paying a ‘fine’. The FIR against them withdrawn.

This further reinforces the perception of feudal lords as all powerful and omnipotent rulers of their fiefdoms. And adds to the fearfulness of the poor in approaching the state’s judiciary for justice.

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