Existing traditions and cultural norms, institutional power hierarchies and extremist elements in society are the main reasons why disadvantaged communities are unaware of their legal rights.
This was the crux of seminar on “Legal Empowerment of the Poor Programme in Pakistan” held here on Saturday. The seminar was attended by members of the civil society, lawyers, government officials and various social activists.
In his presentation, Advocate Arshad Alam said that a capacity-building project has been initiated for disadvantaged communities in Swat to protect their rights and facilitate them in legal aid.
The “Legal Empowerment Project” has been funded by Foundation Open Society Institute-Pakistan in collaboration with Sarhad Rural Support Programme and aims to empower rural people through litigation, advocacy, legal assistance, advice and legal aid.
A survey conducted in the project’s target areas was also discussed. The survey findings reveal that people in Swat have more trust in the jirga system compared to the judiciary and law enforcement agencies.
The lawyers present at the seminar were of the view that rural communities face numerous problems due to lack of awareness regarding the legal process. This is the reason why minor issues often lead to huge litigations. They also expressed their willingness in the project’s implementation.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2012.
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