Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lieven: The nature of law in Pakistan

Lieven writes that in western societies, the purpose of the law since Roman times has been based on the principle that crimes should be punished, and the purpose of the legal system is, in principle, to eliminate crime.  However, in Pakistan and in "many other heavily armed kinship-based societies" the purpose of the law is the defence of collective honor and prestige, the maintenance of order and peace.  Therefore, the laws resemble traditional international law in that they are based in equal parts on diplomacy and rules, they "aim at compromise not punishment', and the threat of violence always looms in the background.  This arises because the idea of honour (izzat and ghairat) are fundamental to Pakistani society.

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