KHAR, July 6: The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan has established Sharia courts in the Bajaur Agency and a large number of people are using them to get disputes resolved, instead of waiting for action by the tribal administration.The courts have been functioning in the Sewai area, about 20kms northwest of the agency headquarters of Khar, for a couple of weeks. About two dozen ulema have been designated as ‘Qazis’.

“We have set up the courts in accordance with people’s wishes,” said Taliban spokesman Maulvi Umar, adding that people were fed up with the previous legal system. He said that the Qazis were “competent scholars well versed in Islamic jurisprudence”.

During a visit to the area, the correspondent saw people going to courts with issues relating to monetary matters and land and family disputes, and women bringing complaints about maltreatment by husbands.

Some people visiting the court told this correspondent that the judicial system under the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) was oppressive and the courts run by the tribal administration were not able to provide them justice. “The Sharia courts are delivering speedy and cheap justice.”

One man interviewed by this correspondent said that his dispute, which had been lingering for several years in a tribal administration court, had been decided by the Sharia court in a few days.

Maulvi Umar told journalists that people were approaching these courts voluntarily to get their long-standing disputes settled and the Taliban had not forced any litigant to go to the courts.

He said that inordinate delays in resolving disputes resulted in blood feuds which continued for decades. “The Sharia courts resolve these disputes speedily and in accordance with Islamic jurisprudence.”