While Nawaz Sharif’s method of ensuring victory involved placing the right people in the right place, there may be a better and a more efficient method invented in a Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa district called Charsadda, which is a major district sandwiched between Peshawar and Mardan.
I came across some interesting yet disturbing realities of the justice and law enforcement system of K-P in the last few weeks. I am sure much has been written about the problems in the justice system and police corruption. However, after talking to several lawyers and police personnel in Charsadda, the real picture is grimmer than it looks.
I was told that all Charsadda court lawyers have come to a common understanding that they would not take any case against any other lawyer of Charsadda, if the other lawyer happens to be a party to the legal dispute. This, however, only applies to civil matters (diwani cases). But if you can read between the lines and know the Pashtun culture of Charsadda, then you would know that criminal cases — which the Charsadda lawyers talking to me always referred to by its Urdu name faujdari cases — would also never be taken by any Charsadda court lawyer if one of the parties to the criminal dispute happens to be another Charsadda lawyer. Because nobody in Charsadda wants enemies. And let me clue you in on a little secret since I grew up in Charsadda: enmity in Charsadda means only one thing: kill or be killed. It is the wild west.
I also observed that even if there is some maverick lawyer who defies all the norms and culture of the judiciary in Charsadda and decides to take up the case based on its merits rather than considering who the opposing parties are, here is what happens in that case: that lawyer will see his door knocked and phone ring constantly. The opposing lawyer who also happens to be a party to the civil or criminal dispute would gather up a bunch of lawyers from the District Bar and send them in the direction of the maverick lawyer to talk him into dropping the case.
That is not the worst though. What I also heard from some lawyers speaking on the condition of anonymity is that maverick lawyers actually taking up cases against fellow Charsadda lawyers should be bad news for justice. What that means is that when people shop for lawyers they realise that the market is bad since no lawyer is willing to take up the case against their fellow colleagues. What follows is that the maverick lawyer who takes up the case demands a ludicrous fee since he literally has no competition. That lawyer after taking that hefty fee strikes up a deal with the opponent lawyer to share the bounty and lose the case too. It is a win-win for both the lawyers. The lawyer who is a party in the dispute not only ensures the defeat of his opponents but also receives a handsome amount of under the table cash for it. The maverick lawyer gets paid for being anything but a maverick.
Perhaps Zuckerberg should focus on Charsadda because this is the real Metaverse; an outside world where there seems to be all kinds of lawyers behaving to be fighting to get justice for their clients, and another universe where money and legal fraternity throttle justice. It is sort of a crypto-justice system because there doesn’t seem to be any government involvement and people can just buy impunity by reaching deep into their pockets. Those whose job is to put up a fight for justice actually get paid to embrace defeat.
Moral of the story is: if you want to commit a crime in Charsadda and get away with it, there are a few ways to go about it such as bribing the judges and the police. But it seems that the best way is to be a lawyer first and then unleash the crimes.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2021.
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