Leaders of various political parties and candidates for the third phase of the ongoing local government polls scheduled to be held in Karachi on December 5 have agreed to form conflict resolution committees at neighbourhood level to settle disputes peacefully.
Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui, a former chief justice of Pakistan, Dr Arif Alvi, MNA of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Rauf Siddiqui, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s MPA, Younas Buneri, the Awami National Party’s provincial secretary general, and Qari Muhammad Osman, Karachi’s head of the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl, participated in a workshop titled ‘Strengthening Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism’, organised by the Sustainable Peace and Development Organisation (SPADO) in collaboration with the National Centre for Dispute Resolution (NCDR), two non-governmental organisations working to facilitate the mechanism for meditation among communities.
A number of candidates from Hijrat Colony, Sultan Abad, Pak Jamhooria Colony and Hazrat Bilal Colony also attended the workshop.
Former CJP Siddiqui, while highlighting the importance of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), said that the existing legal system in the country did not provide speedy justice to the people because of its lengthy and complicated process. “These delays in the court cases create lack of trust in the judiciary and cause frustration among the people,” he said.
He said the ADR had been introduced in several western countries, such as the United States of America, United Kingdom and Canada, helping their local administrations to resolve disputes at neighbourhood level in a speedy and easy way.
With the financial support of the World Bank, the Karachi Centre of Disputes Resolution, which was renamed to the NCDR, launched a pilot project to resolve disputes through meditation in 2007, he said. But, after two years of its working, the project was stopped because the WB stopped funding.
However, Siddiqui informed the participants that an MoU had been signed between the Sindh High Court and the SPADO [to be read NCDR] to promote mediation in the judicial system. “Through it, the courts allow the rival parties to resolve their disputes though negotiations, beyond the court and the police station.”
The former chief justice also said a bill on meditation had been on the table in the Sindh Assembly since 2007, but unfortunately it had not been approved yet.
MNA Alvi said his party had always supported conflict resolution committees at neighborhood level to resolve disputes peacefully and help people avoid going to courts and police stations. “It is the PTI’s main policy that all issues – whether they are political and social – should be resolved through meditation. We want its expansion at neighborhood level,” he said.
MQM leader Rauf Siddiqui said feudalism and tribalism were two main hurdles in the provision of justice and implementation of law in the country. “The MQM parliamentarians will bring the bill on mediation to both assemblies for approval, but I am sure the opposition parties will reject the bill,” he said.
Raza Shah, the SPADO’s director, said injustice and legal complications were two major factors of militancy and crime in the country. “To curb militancy and intolerance, the judiciary should be working in a faster way to provide justice to the people.”
Candidates for local government polls shared the same views. Qayyum Salarzai, an ANP candidate for vice-chairman from Hijrat Colony union committee, said cases of domestic violence, property and monetary issues had been on the rise in low-income neighbourhoods of the city. “Neighborhood-level meditation committees would be an appropriate forum to resolve these issues locally, instead of registering FIRs against each other. If we got elected, our top priority would be to set up an active mediation committee comprising elected representatives, religious clerics, police and community elders,” he said.
Published by: The News
A news report, ‘Political parties agree to form conflict resolution committees’, published on Friday, November 20, erroneously cited the signing of an “MoU between the Sindh High Court and the Sustainable Peace and Development Organisation (SPADO) to promote mediation in the judicial system.”
The agreement has, in fact, been signed between the SHC and the National Centre for Dispute Resolution (NCDR). The oversight is regretted. — Editor
Published by: The News