Role of Malik in Pukhtoon Tribal Areas

Danish Ahmad, Anwaar Mohyuddin


Pukhtoon society is composed of different tribes, which inhabit in the North Western part of Pakistan. These tribes are led by their respective leaders in their affairs. These tribal leaders are usually known as Maliks. The mechanism through which these Maliks represent the common tribal people is known as Maliki system. The Maliki system in tribal areas was started in 1890 by the British officer Robert Bruce.  The idea behind this was to control the local people indirectly through their own leaders. Their duty was to identify those who were causing disorder, and that time they were given monetary benefits known as Lungi. There were also stipends for common people known as moajab. The Maliki is hereditary and it goes to son after the death of his father. The Maliks are of two types; the lungi-holder, who is recognized by the Political Agent, and non lungi holder who is not recognized by the Political Agent. The Malik distributes the moajab in the community and also collects various fines from the tribes imposed by the government. He settles the disputes among the community members through Jirga (council of elders). He is the legal representative of the government and only he can verify and attest the documents of the people and he has the authority to bail out a person who is arrested by the Political Administration. He serves as the witness and guarantor in land purchasing cases. Malik also serves as authority by allowing the outsiders to reside in the community. The various developmental schemes of the government in the community are only given to Maliks. The appointment on various posts in government departments is carried out through the reference of these tribal chiefs. With the passage of time the powers of Maliks started to curtail. The most significant development in this regard was the introduction of adult franchise in the area in 1997 general elections by the then caretaker government. Before this development, the right to vote and to elect an MNA was only with the Maliks.

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