Feisal Naqvi

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Let them come home

In Uncategorized on August 16, 2017 at 6:52 am

Every Independence Day, we are told stories of horror and terror, of how friend turned on friend and how neighbour slaughtered neighbour. We hear stories of loss, of how people fled just steps ahead of ravening mobs, sometimes with a suitcase, sometimes with nothing. And every year we hear the odd story of redemption and rediscovery, of how someone frail and elderly has retraced the steps back to their old house and been welcomed with open arms.

Everybody who was alive at the time of Partition is at least seventy years today. Seventy years is a long time to live. It is long enough to forgive and forget. But for those who miss their homes, it is seventy years of pain.

And so I say, let them come home. Let them all come home. Let us throw our borders open to every person who left a home behind on Partition. Let us tell them that even if they have migrated, that even if they have moved and put down new roots in strange places, that they will always have a home here.  Let us tell them that we know the pain of losing a home and that while we cannot make the past whole, we can try to heal the wounds which remain.

Perhaps you find the above to be idealistic nonsense of the kind that gets people slammed as RAW agents by the usual assortment of slavering anchors, just another utopian scheme destined to fail. If so, let me ask why? Why the scepticism? What do we have to lose?

People who are seventy plus now enjoy much healthier lives than they did in the past. More of them are now more active than they have ever been before in human history.  But even with all that modern science has to offer, there are precious few seventy year olds who are capable of posing a physical threat to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

But what about retired military officers, you might say? Well, what about them? Retired military officers are no less immune to the pain of a lost home than others. And those who are won’t be lining up at Wagah anyway.

What’s in it for us, you might ask? Ah, now that is a better question.

In 1994, the small nation of Rwanda went literally insane. That country is divided between two different ethnic groups, Hutus and Tutsis. And for some strange reason, the majority Hutus decided that they simply could not live with Tutsis any more. Between April and July of 1994, Hutu militias killed around a million people, including almost three-quarters of the Tutsi population.

Six years later, the civil war wracking the country came to an end with the victory of Paul Kagame and his Rwandan Patriotic Front. As noted by Jonathan Tepperman in his recent book, ‘The Fix’, Kagame faced an impossible task. The country had no running water and almost no electricity. The destruction of civil society was so complete that out of the 800 judges who had been in office before the war, only 50 survived.

But beyond the physical destruction, there was a larger problem. Rwanda was still divided between Hutus and and Tutsis. And memories were both sharp and extremely bitter. How was a country to be united when so many of them had been involved in murdering each other?

Kagame’s attempt to put the past behind relied in large part on an indigenous Rwandan mechanism for dispute resolution called ‘gacaca’. From what I can figure out, these are the rough equivalent of our panchayats and jirgas. In any event, more than 12,000 village level tribunals were set up with limited powers of punishment. The tribunals were staffed not by lawyers and judges but by respected locals given a few days of training.

Since 2002, the ‘gacaca’ courts have heard more than two million cases. And while there have been numerous criticisms of them, the fact remains that the conversations they initiated and formalised between victims and victimisers have been incredibly beneficial in making Rwanda the success story that it is today.

I’m not suggesting that Pakistan should set up village level panchayats to deal with Partition. But the fact remains that trying to brush our traumas under the rug of history hasn’t worked that well either. There doesn’t need to be a reckoning: it is too late for that now. But the ghosts of Partition still need to be exorcised. There needs to be a catharsis of some sort, some national conversation with the past and with the others who either fled or were driven away.

I cannot forgive the past. Because while I have inherited it, it is not mine to forgive. I am also lucky to be the son of a father who worked out his demons many years ago.

When I was a child, the stories my father told me were the usual ones, of loved ones killed, of treasures lost, of homes abandoned. But later my father worked as an expatriate in Singapore. Over there, he started playing bridge with an Indian diplomat. That diplomat later became one of my father’s closest friends. And somewhere in between the golf and the bridge, the anger melted. My father still told me stories about Partition. But they were no longer angry stories.

A decade further and my father managed to get a visa to visit Patiala. Our haveli was still there, if considerably battered. But what touched him the most was that the graves of our ancestors had been turned into a shrine with regular Thursday night qawwalis.

Obviously, not every visitor from across the border will be as lucky. But let them at least come. People in India still talk about the reception they got when they visited Lahore in 2004 to watch India and Pakistan play cricket. Lahoris are still the same as they were back then and the rest of the country is no less hospitable.

And so I repeat, let them all come home. Let us open our borders to every person who was resident in Pakistan 70 years ago. Let us welcome them back. Let us show them their old homes. Let us help them find what peace they can.

There is another aspect as well worth considering. We have spent much of the last 70 years in a defensive crouch. Yes, that posture was justified. Pakistan was given very little chance of survival at birth and that fact that we are now still together 70 years later is a hell of a thing. But that time has passed. We need not be afraid. Certainly not of 70 year old Indians.

Opening our borders to all people born here before Partition sends a message to the world that we have moved on as a country. It tells them that we are confident enough to deal with our past, that we are open enough to talk about it. Above all, it tells them that we are ready to welcome everybody who has ever called this place home.

This column was first published in The News on 15 August 2017. I have made a few minor editorial changes from the earlier publication.

That which works is good

In Uncategorized on June 1, 2017 at 11:46 am

Ten seconds. That’s how long it took Xiaodong Wu, a Chinese mixed martial arts fighter, to beat a bona-fide living legend tai chi master into submission. Watch the fight if you want on YouTube. It’s about as embarrassing as it sounds.

The point to note is that this is no longer the China of old. Yes, the Shaolin monks and their kung fu skills still rule the silver screen. But out in the real world, what wins is not Pai Mei’s five-point-palm exploding heart technique but hard-scrabble mongrel fighting styles which take the best from every discipline.

And it’s not only China and the world of combat which has changed. China is just the most prominent convert to the ethos of capitalism.

But what exactly is the ethos of capitalism? The belief that the invisible hand of a competitive market will guide society to the best of all possible worlds? Gordon Gekko’s famous phrase that “Greed is good”. Hedonism?

So far as I’m concerned, the essence of capitalism is captured in Deng Xiaoping’s famous observation that “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white so long as it catches mice.” In simple terms, that which works is good. Or to put it in desi terms, “chalti ka naam gaari”.

This week’s musings about the meaning of capitalism are prompted by ‘Chaos Monkeys’, a book written by a former Facebook employee called Anthony Garcia Marquez. The book is a chronicle of his time in the maelstrom of Silicon Valley.

To be more precise, the book is an account of about five years in the life of Mr Marquez, from 2008 to 2013, starting from his arrival in California and initial employment by an existing company, continuing on to his departure and founding of a new company, the sale of that new company to Twitter and then two years of employment by Facebook.

Before I explain why this book matters, let me first take a moment to deal with the naysayers lining up to tell me that a book about capitalism run amok in California is hardly relevant to the average Pakistan.

To begin with, you – the reader – are not an average Pakistani.

Pakistan has about 200 million people. At present, about 60 percent of them are optimistically considered to be literate. Out of those literate masses, perhaps a million read newspapers in English at least once a week (and that is fantastically optimistic, but bear with me). Out of those English readers, The News claims (cough, cough) a readership of around 120,000.

In short, if you are reading this column (via dead tree or electronically), you are presumptively educated, affluent and interested in Pakistan. Let me further presume that you are interested in the economic development of Pakistan. Hence my conclusion that you should read what Garcia has to say.

Here are the two things that you need to learn from ‘Chaos Monkeys’.

The first point is that Silicon Valley is now the world’s greatest marketplace for ideas. What I mean by that is two very different things. The first is that Silicon Valley is now where you go to find ideas. The second is that Silicon Valley is where you go to sell ideas.

Take a look at Marquez’s journey. After abandoning his quest for a physics PhD at Berkeley, he joined a company called Adchemy which was trying to figure out, like many other companies, how to make money via internet advertising. After two (largely wasted) years at Adchemy, Marquez and two fellow engineers came up with a new idea and put in a pitch for induction at Y Combinator, the premier startup incubator in Silicon Valley and, by definition, the rest of the world.

By the time Marquez and his cohort ‘graduated’ from Y Combinator, had polished their original rough idea into a saleable pitch, had investors lined up and had a working valuation of about $4 million.

Let’s rewind here a bit. Marquez and his two buddies were not the second coming of Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the duo who founded Google. They had not been struck with Newtonesque levels of inspiration. They were just reasonably intelligent people who had lucked into the world’s greatest startup factory and who had then been driven enough to come up with a saleable product. And yet, within a few months of finishing at Y Combinator, they had an offer from Twitter to buy their product for $10 million.

Why doesn’t something like this happen in Pakistan?

Well, you might say, it does happen. Only less frequently.

The only problem with that answer is that it’s bogus. There is a difference between generating electricity via an understanding of electromagnetic theory and waiting to get hit by lightning. Pakistan gets hit by lightning every once in a while. But it doesn’t know how to make sparks fly on a regular basis.

The technical reasons for this sad situation are manifold, starting with the difficulty in creating ‘sweat equity’. But let’s leave the technical reasons aside for a while. The real reason why IT startups remain not just on the fringe in Pakistan, but on the fringes of the fringe, is because we still don’t really respect such entrepreneurs. Our economic wizards remain entranced by a world of five-year plans and miraculously profitable steel mills. They are the tai-chi masters of Pakistan. And they are getting whupped by the MMA fighters of the world.

Let me now get back to the second half of Marquez’s book – his time at Facebook. Remember how I mentioned that Pakistan has perhaps a million newspaper readers (in English). Well, Facebook has 25 million users in Pakistan. The question is: how did it get there?

The short answer is that the people at Facebook try everything that works and they try it maniacally. ‘Make an impact’. ‘Fortune favours the bold’. ‘Move fast and break things’. Those were the exhortations that Mark Zuckerberg had pasted all over the Facebook campus.

Here in Pakistan, we don’t have exhortations posted on our walls. But if we did, the most likely candidate for a national slogan would be the Noori song, “Hore vi neevan ho”.

This is a country obsessed with avoiding risk. We obsess and we obsess and we then obsess some more about the one theoretical option that might, just possibly, in some ideal world have produced an optimal result.

Unfortunately, the old saying that “the best is the enemy of the good” remains as true today as it was yesterday. If you know that tomorrow      you will be judged and possibly punished with reference to some theoretical ideal, you will not take any risks. Instead, you will lay out all your requirements for the ideal and entirely unrealistic result in triplicate and when no action is taken, you will report to your bureaucratic superiors that nothing could be done about the fact that nothing was done.

We cannot afford to continue this way. If we do not embrace risk and if we do not accept the occasional misfire, we will continue to inch along at the petty pace we have mastered. We will continue with our elegant tai chi. And we will continue getting hammered into submission within seconds.

This column appeared in The News on 31 May 2017.

The age of consent

In Uncategorized on June 1, 2017 at 11:44 am

In April 2014, the Sindh Assembly passed a law which made marriage to a female under the age of 18 punishable by up to three years months in prison. Previously, the bar had been set at 16 by the Child Marriages Restraint Act, 1929.

The new law was greeted with much fanfare by Pakistan’s fast-dwindling band of       jiyalas. And why not? Here was a law which was purportedly modern, feminist and progressive – all in one go. ZAB would have been proud of the law and so would BB. The law even followed in the hallowed steps of the Quaid. In September 1929, he had responded to criticism of his support for the 1929 Act by saying “If my constituency is so backward as to disapprove of a measure like this then I say the clearest duty on my part would be to say to my constituency, ‘you had better ask somebody else to represent you.”

Soon after the passage of the Sindh Act, I was asked by the Karachi-based parents of a runaway girl to help recover their daughter. According to them, she was 15 and was now living in Lahore with somebody she had supposedly married. And indeed, that was the position taken in response to the habeas petition filed by me.

The first thing I learned after filing that petition was that the Child Marriages Restraint Act, 1929 (not to mention the Sindh version of 2014) is a sham. It does not make child marriages illegal. Instead, Shariah law prescribes that every post-puberty female is competent to marry. Since the personal law of the Muslims of Pakistan is the Shariah (as per the Shariah Act of 1939), the net result is that the marriage of even a ten-year-old girl is valid (so long as she has hit puberty) but her husband is liable to go to jail.

In the first round of litigation, I got nowhere. The judge in question told me bluntly that since an apparently valid    nikah   had been presented and since the girl was admittedly of age as per Islamic law, I had no case. When I persisted with the argument that the girl was from Sindh and that the Sindh Assembly had recently raised the age of consent to 18, he responded by saying, “Mein aap kay qanoon ko manoon ya apni shariat ko?”

On appeal, the bench was more sympathetic. Thanks to assistance and guidance from my learned friend Shan Gul, then (as now) the dishevelled life of the advocate general’s office, we managed to get the bench to order that the girl be produced in court.

On the next date, her parents and I went to court with high expectations. Then the young lady appeared. She was dressed very proudly in her finest clothes, looked as if she was 21 years old, and visibly pregnant. She confidently told the court that she had married of her own consent, that she was happy and that she wanted to be with her husband. Case dismissed again.

This time at least I had no complaints. Given that the young lady was pregnant and clearly exercising her own will, no point would have been served by throwing her husband in jail.

But what about instances where the marriage isn’t quite so ostensibly happy. Does a 15-year-old runaway pregnant girl really have any option except to tell all and sundry that she has found true love? Don’t we have an age of consent limitation on marriage precisely because the sentiments of 15-year-olds are not to be trusted?

That brings me to my next point. It is wrong, repeat wrong, to say that the age of consent in Pakistan is 18 or 16 or whatever. The age of consent for females in Pakistan is puberty (defined as the onset of menstruation). As already noted, the men who marry underage girls are liable to be punished. But the marriages those girls contract are valid. This is true not only of Sindh but of all the other provinces as well (including Punjab, where the penalties for underage marriage were increased in 2015).

In earlier times, the puberty standard set by Shariah was not quite so problematic because the average age of puberty for females fell somewhere around 16 to 18 years. As per one study, the average age of puberty for American girls in 1860 was 16.6 years. Presumably, the average age of puberty for non-Americans in earlier ages was much the same.

The problem now is that due to modern advances in diet and health, the average age of puberty is continuously falling all across the world. Today, the average age of puberty for white girls in the United States is 10 years. For black girls, the average age of puberty is 9 years.

The phrase to note here is ‘average age’. That means significant numbers of young girls are hitting puberty at ages less than the ‘average age’. In other words, an eight-year-old girl who has hit puberty is not a medical freak; she is just slightly ahead of the curve.

In legal terms, Pakistan has two choices. The first is to let the status quo stay as it is and hope that not too many underage girls get destroyed. But as per Unicef, 3 percent of all girls are married by the age of 15 and 21 percent by the age of 18. That’s a lot of destroyed lives to ignore.

The second option is to actually outlaw child marriages. Like Pakistan, India inherited the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929. But unlike Pakistan, India has taken the next step. In 2006, India introduced the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act which declares all marriages to underage girls to be invalid. It doesn’t matter now if the girl consents, if her parents’ consent or if she’s pregnant. All marriages in which the girl is under the age of 16 are invalid.

Can Pakistan adopt the same route taken by India? Well, the Council of Islamic Ideology doesn’t think so. In November 2014, the CII gave a series of rulings declaring that any attempt to limit child marriage to an age other than puberty would be invalid and unIslamic. The rulings were met with great derision on social media but nonetheless prompted the PML-N to withdraw a bill in the National Assembly which would have increased the age of marriage to 18 (rather than 16).

But the question remains: if Shariah law is unambiguously to the effect that the age of consent is puberty, then any law which fixes a different age is self-evidently unIslamic. Equally self-evidently, we have laws in Pakistan which penalise underage marriages (but which, as noted above, don’t actually invalidate the marriage itself). What then is the state to do?

The liberal answer to the question is to ignore the CII and to proceed full steam ahead. In an ideal world, that is certainly what I would support. But we don’t live in an ideal world, certainly not from a liberal perspective. What we live in is a world with many different perspectives, all of which demand respect. What we also live in is a world with many competing political considerations. I hope I live to see the day when child marriages are effectively prohibited. But I don’t think it’s going to be tomorrow.

This column appeared in The News on 17 May 2017.

Arbitration: a lost cause?

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2017 at 4:06 am

It is common cause between lawyers, judges and most of Pakistan that our legal system is broken. And yet nothing ever happens to change that fact. Why is this so? I recently had occasion to examine this issue at a recent conference held at LUMS titled somewhat provocatively, “Arbitration in Pakistan: A lost cause?”

Speaker after speaker made uncontroversial points: the 1940 Arbitration Act is a useless, obsolete statute and needs to be replaced; our courts need to stop seeing arbitration as a bumptious rival and instead encourage the development of alternate dispute resolution strategies; the development of arbitration in Pakistan requires not just a new law but arbitral institutions along the lines of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) and the Singapore International Arbitration Center (SIAC).

If I may be forgiven for regurgitating my talk at the conference, I made basically two points. The first point was that Pakistan is not going to be a hot destination on the international arbitration roadmap for a long time to come: in simple terms, we are not a big enough market for anybody to care. And yes, CPEC is bringing in a lot of money to Pakistan but that deal flow is all emanating from one source. We need to worry first about fixing the domestic arbitration ecosystem and then worry about the international arbitration scene.

The second point though was, I think, more interesting. My question was to ask why nobody cares about commercial arbitration in Pakistan.

To elaborate, commercial arbitration is essentially a service for businessmen, the idea being to provide swift, speedy and private resolution of disputes to people who know the value of a dollar (or a rupee, as the case may be). That is why commercial arbitration practices are not just associated with the great commercial centres of the world (London, Paris, Hong Kong) but are actually driven by the chambers of commerce of those locations. Dubai’s domestic arbitration center, for example, is based in and hosted by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce. Similarly, the ICC rules used in international commercial arbitration are the rules of the “International Chamber of Commerce.” But if you talk to local businessmen about arbitration, their view – to the extent they have one – is that arbitration is a waste of time and not their headache.

Here is the conundrum: in the formal sense, commercial contracts are often unenforceable in Pakistan. If you lend money to somebody in Pakistan, you can forget about getting it back. The situation is slightly better if you’re a bank, but not much. And if somebody reneges on a commercial contract and you want damages, you’re out of luck.

Before I proceed, let me reiterate the words “in the formal sense.” It is certainly possible to recover money from recalcitrant debtors through “alternative” means. Indeed, many political parties (not to mention groups like the TTP) make a side living by settling legal disputes in an ad hoc manner. There are also institutions like the Faisalabad yarn market which enforce contracts through the power of social disapproval and blacklisting of defaulters. But what I am talking about is “formal” adjudication by a court. And in that formal sense, going to court is quite often a waste of time.

So, here’s the question: why don’t Pakistani businessmen care about this? Why are they not screaming about the fact that many of their contracts are not worth the paper they’re written on? Self-evidently, our business leaders are neither dumb nor ignorant? Why don’t they care then?

Let me present two answers, the first is practical and the second is historical.

At the practical level, the short answer is that arbitration doesn’t free you from our dysfunctional judicial system: at best, it speeds up the process of getting a decree. Unfortunately, as observed by the Privy Council back in 1872, the problems of a litigant in India begin when he has a decree. Going through the added hassle and expense of commercial arbitration only to find yourself back at the start line in a civil court is therefore like taking the motorway for ten minutes before being forced to get out of your car and hike up a hill. Or as one of my clients put it to me, “why should I go to arbitration if I’m going to wind up before a civil judge anyways? Why add one round of litigation?”

The historical argument is more intriguing. To begin with, the apathy is neither constant nor universal. The Karachi Cotton Association, for example, had a set of arbitration rules which remained widely used till the middle of the 1980s. More generally, chambers of commerce are not silent bodies. Instead, elections to the various chambers of commerce are heavily contested affairs in which local businesses are deeply invested.

One hypothesis is that this strangely silent business class is a consequence of our misadventures with nationalisation. Think of it this way: ZAB’s actions wiped out not just the famous 22 families but most large scale private enterprise in Pakistan. The enterprises that were left were not just smaller but they were also less sophisticated. Above all, what these enterprises understood in the very marrow of their bones was that it was not a good idea to become too publicly visible, because as noted by a traveler to the court of the Emperor Jahangir, “There are very many private men in cities and towns . . . that are very rich: but it is not safe for them that are so, so to appear, lest that they should be used as fill’d sponges.”

And so our business communities survived their pruning, both recent and old, by turning inwards and by avoiding the state. The average trader therefore regards the instrumentalities of the state with fear and loathing. It is standard practice for columnists and pundits to bemoan Pakistan’s pitifully small number of tax payers. It is not standard practice for people to ask why this mistrust runs so deep and what can be done to overcome it.

Let me try and pull together the skeins of my various arguments. Commercial arbitration has never properly taken off in Pakistan because it requires a certain degree of formal interaction between the business sector and the state. In order for that formal interaction to take place, the business community itself has to be both organised and confident enough of its place in the political structure and to be willing to negotiate with the state in order to protect its interests. At the same time, the various institutions of the state also have to be willing to delegate responsibility on to the business community and trust the business community with some degree of power.

For the last few decades, both aspects have been missing. The business community had withdrawn itself from formal politics and the state itself had become grossly overgrown. At the same time, there are encouraging signs on both fronts. For example, the business community seems to have enough confidence in the rule of law to get involved in politics (witness, for example, the rise of Jahangir Tareen and his bankrolling of the PTI). And at least the Lahore High Court level, there is a new group of commercially saving jurists pushing hard to develop alternate dispute resolution strategies, particularly arbitration. Let’s see now what the future brings.

This column appeared in The News on 3 May 2017

If you think it’s easy, you’re doing it wrong

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2017 at 4:05 am

Many years ago, after being asked one too many a question, I sat down at my computer and hammered out what have henceforth been referred to as the ‘BNR Rules’. Earlier, these rules were printed on a piece of paper. Subsequently, we had them engraved and put on the wall of our office library.

Currently, the BNR Rules are four in number:

1. All work is to be done to the highest possible standards. Always.

2. There is always law. If you can’t find it, look some more.

3. Research is on a strict liability basis. You are liable for finding everything.

4. You can always out-work the opposition.

I mention the BNR Rules because I’m now thinking of adding a fifth rule: If you think it’s easy, you’re doing it wrong.

I’m thinking of adding this rule not just because my firm is blessed with associates who think practising law is a doddle. I’m thinking of adding it because I need to remind myself that two decades of experience doesn’t make the practice of law easy. Easier, yes. Easy, no.

I’m sure that every other profession is difficult. But the type of law I practise is – or so I believe – particularly difficult.

I am a litigator. I argue for a living. If you want to put it poetically, I’m an architect of the imagination: I make and destroy arguments for a living.

High-stakes litigation is difficult everywhere in the world because somebody’s life or somebody’s livelihood is often on the line. But what makes it immeasurably more terrifying in Pakistan is that our advocacy is still done orally, not in writing. That means that when you stand up to argue, you often have no idea what point is going to catch the judge’s fancy or what is going to disturb him: you just have to do your best and try to anticipate everything which might be flung at you.

The further consequence of this oral tradition is that a good lawyer needs to know his entire brief, inside and out, before he stands at the rostrum. As I once explained it to somebody, litigation lawyers are like stage actors: we need to know the entire play. We don’t have the option of only learning the lines needed for the next take.

As you get more experienced, it becomes easier for you to anticipate what point is likely to catch the judge’s eye. And it gets easier for you to extract the gist of the case from a two-foot high stack of documents. But at the end of the day, you still need to go through that stack. And you still need to know everything inside it. Or else.

I may or may not be correct in feeling that my job is exceptionally hard. But my point here is simpler: no matter what the job, doing it well is going to be difficult. If you think it’s easy, you’re doing it wrong.

I make this point because we live in an age where we have a plethora of self-proclaimed messiahs announcing every hour of every day that the solutions to all our problems are easy. In the US, Trump got elected by telling a frustrated electorate that reform was easy. Month after month, he told everybody that he had solutions, secret plans to deal with everything from Isis to healthcare. Now that he has actually been elected, he’s singing a different tune. When his bid to ditch Obamacare ran into trouble, Trump turned in amazement to the press and said, “Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated.” Wrong. Everybody who actually knew something about the subject knew that it was complicated.

Trump’s experience is relevant to Pakistan because Imran Khan insists, just like his orange counterpart, that he has solutions to every problem. In Imran Khan’s case, not only does he have solutions but every problem has the same solution: getting rid of corruption.

I didn’t vote for Imran Khan last time. And I’m not going to vote for him next time either. But his analysis of Pakistan’s problems still matters to me. Whether I like it or not, the PTI is an important factor in Pakistan’s politics. It is therefore all the more important for the PTI to stop faffing around with meaningless slogans and get down to business. There is no magic solution to Pakistan’s problems. Each of our problems is difficult. Dealing with each of them requires research and insight and hard work. If the Insaafians think that solving Pakistan’s problems is easy, they’re doing it wrong.

Perhaps you think I’m being unfair. After all, does an opposition party really owe anything to the party in power? Answer: probably not. But it certainly owes a lot to all the people of Pakistan. And for their sakes, it has to make a genuine effort to try and attack the problems of this country rather than focus wholly and exclusively on kicking the current government out of power.

During the Obama years, the Republicans had only one agenda item, which was to get rid of Obama. For eight years, the Republicans did nothing except oppose every single policy measure proposed by Obama, even when those polices were based upon Republican orthodoxy. Instead, they focused exclusively on demonising him.

To some extent, the strategy worked. Trump is now president, a conservative has been appointed as a Justice of the Supreme Court, and Hillary Clinton has been reduced to a spectral presence in the woods of upstate New York. But was it worth it?

I would say that the answer is no. Today’s Republican Party has no soul left. All it has left is the ability to say “No”, an ability which it has most recently exercised against the policy initiative of a Republican president. I don’t know what’s going to happen to the US over the next few years. But one certainly doesn’t get the sense that there are any grown-ups in charge.

Like any other job, politics requires hard work. More importantly, portraying politics as easy work does nobody any favours. If you think Pakistan’s problems are easily solved, you’re going to resent the crooks/idiots/patwaris inexplicably failing to do the simple things necessary to fix Pakistan.

Equally importantly, if Pakistan’s problems are such that they can be fixed with a snap of one’s fingers, then one doesn’t need a professional political class: all one needs is a good man at the top of the pyramid to make sure that all is in order. And if you can’t connect the dots between that narrative and the narrative used to legitimise military interventions, then God help you.

We have real problems here in Pakistan. They have real solutions. Very few of those solutions are easy. As the party in power, the primary responsibility for fixing those problems belongs to the PML-N. But just because the PTI is in opposition doesn’t mean it gets to peddle fairytales to the masses.

Politics is hard, Mr Khan. Governance is even harder. If you think it’s easy, you’re doing it wrong.

This column appeared in The News on 12 April 2017

Sir, laws matter!

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2017 at 4:03 am

I met the chief minister of Punjab yesterday. The meeting was in my capacity as a director of the newly reformed Punjab Board of Investment & Trade. Here is what I had planned to say.

Sir, let me ask you a question: what do you think is the single most consequential law passed by the Punjab Assembly while under your guidance?

In my view, the answer to that question is the Punjab Rented Premises Act, 2009. Let me explain why.

Under the legal system introduced by the British (and specifically the Transfer of Property Act, 1882), the law of rent was simple. All leases of a year or more needed to be registered. Once your lease ran out, the landlord had the right to kick you out – no reason required.

In 1959, the then government of West Pakistan adopted the West Pakistan Urban Rent Restriction Ordinance, 1959. Under this law, once your lease ran out, the landlord could not kick you out. Instead, you could only be evicted if the landlord could establish either default or “bona fide personal need.” And by ‘establish’, I mean establish in court after a full-fledged trial.

The consequences of the 1959 law were horrendous. Given the speed with which our overburdened courts operate, every lease agreement (whether for a month or a decade) became a lease forever. Even routine rent cases were litigated all the way up to the Supreme Court, taking decades along the way. Landlords thus faced two unpalatable choices: either leave their properties untenanted or take the risk of renting to someone who could then not be dislodged for a decade. Some decided to hedge their bets and hung out signs saying: “For rent to banks and multinationals only”. All to no avail.

The end result was not only more frivolous litigation but a severe shortage of rentable property. In simple economic terms, the 1959 ordinance made renting property a high risk proposition. In order to offset that risk, landlords asked for higher rents – which less people were able to pay.

In 2009, the Punjab Assembly passed the Punjab Rented Premises Act. That law repealed the 1959 ordinance and instead reintroduced a system which allows landlords to turf out their tenants when a lease expires. As a consequence of this law, an entire category of litigation has been wiped out. There used to be a class of lawyers who did nothing but rent cases. They still exist but their numbers are far fewer because the advantages of litigation have been taken away. And at least anecdotally, the further result is that more rented property has come on the market because landlords have become more willing to take the risk of renting property out.

Sir, the simple point here is that laws matter. Yes, it is important to build projects. Yes, it is important to improve infrastructure. Yes, it is important to have tangible results. But the intangible doesn’t become any less important just because it is intangible. All of your policies and projects and all of the private sector’s endeavours are dependent on a legal base that hasn’t been modernised in more than a century. And that age is beginning to show. You want your government to be the Ferrari of governments. But you can’t drive a Ferrari on dirt roads. At least, not very fast.

The further point to note is that after the 18th     Amendment, the role of the provinces has become massively more important. Before 2010, you could (in theory) rely on parliament to do the needful or, at least, comfort yourself with the thought that if things were really that bad, then parliament would step in. Well, those days are over. Parliament’s law-making is now confined to the limited items on the Federal Legislative List.

And we’re not talking here about controversial stuff. We’re talking about simple, basic stuff, the kind you figure out after sleeping through a freshman lecture on economics. Here are three examples.

First up is a benami law. Yes, I know the National Assembly has just passed a benami bill. No, I don’t know why the National Assembly is messing around with benami. Land was a provincial subject even before the 18th          Amendment. If by some miracle the new benami law gets passed by the Senate, it will last about 30 seconds in court.

“Learned DAG, are you familiar with the Federal Legislative List?”

“Err, yes your Lordship.”

“Thank you. Writ allowed with exemplary costs.”

Second up is a limited partnership act. Yes, I know the SECP is keen on passing a limited liability partnership law. No, I don’t know why they’re messing around with partnership. Like land, partnership has been a provincial subject since the dawn of time.

The fundamental issue here is the mechanism through which people organise business activity. Currently, there are two options: a company limited by shares or a general partnership. A company works great at a larger level. It allows people to invest and it provides for limited liability. But for small enterprises, the regulatory demands and hassles of the SECP are simply too much to handle. Small businesses don’t want to file forms every year and they don’t want to deal with the hassle of board meetings and board resolutions. In any event, most banks won’t lend to a company without getting a personal guarantee from every director, so the whole point of a company stands defeated in many cases.

A partnership, on the other hand, is wondrously simple and easy. You only have to register it once. And it is more tax-efficient than a company. But then again, a partnership makes you liable for everything your partners do, as the saying goes, down to the last cufflink.

The simple answer to this problem is to introduce the concept of a ‘limited partnership’. In a limited partnership, there are two types of partners: general partners who remain fully liable and limited partners, who are liable only to the extent of their investment. A limited partnership therefore offers the best of both worlds: simplicity and limited liability for investors. Interestingly, this ‘innovation’ was introduced in England in 1907!

The third subject that needs immediate attention is domestic arbitration. Our current law dates back to 1940. And that is a significant issue because unlike many of our other laws, it has not dated well. In 1940, even English judges regarded commercial arbitration with barely disguised loathing. Today, the business world regards arbitration as a commercial necessity. Pakistan, however, remains mired in a situation which (to quote an Indian judge) has “made lawyers laugh and legal philosophers weep.”

Mr Chief Minister, your legacy has to consist of more than bricks and mortar. If you want businesses to flourish in Punjab, you have to use your majority in the Punjab Assembly to pass laws which make a significant economic impact. You have to lead the way.

As it happened, I didn’t get to make the whole speech. But I did manage to get my point across. And the good news is that I have been tasked with presenting drafts of the three laws so that they can be formally considered. Let’s see what happens now.

This column appeared in The News on 29 March 2017

Burnol lagaiye!

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2017 at 4:02 am

Back in the dark ages when PTV was all one had to watch, one of the jingles that went viral was the ad for Burnol, a tube containing a panacea for all ills. Or as the dialogue went, “Jal gaya? Burnol lagaiye! Cut gaya? Burnol lagaiye! Keeray nay kata? Burnol lagaiye?

I was reminded of the Burnol advertisement by the recent spate of columns advising the armed forces to step in, initiate ruthless accountability, replace our corrupt kleptocrats with a new bunch of “clean tareen” leaders and set Pakistan on the path to becoming Switzerland. If you think you’ve heard that advice before, rest assured, so has the rest of Pakistan. It is advice that gets trotted out at every crisis, big or small. Like Burnol, the fauj fixes every problem.

My question today is this: why do people do this? What part of the history of Pakistan encourages people who should know better to turn to the armed forces for solace? What makes people think that replacing one head with another will fix Pakistan?

Let’s put the conspiracy theories aside for a moment and assume that there is a rational (and respectable) explanation for such reductionism. If so, what could that be?

My thesis is that the faujis (and by extension, the fauji sympathisers) believe in the ‘minus one’ option because it accords with their own experience and because they fail to differentiate between the wildly different natures of military and civilian institutions.

Let me begin by stating the obvious: the military is the strongest institution in Pakistan. No other institution or entity is even remotely comparable to it as an organisational entity, not even the DMG of yore.

Like all Pakistani institutions, the military is peculiarly susceptible to the foibles of its leader. A good chief can do wonders and a bad chief can run the whole organisation down. But as a retired general explained to me, a good chief can fix in a year whatever mess a bad chief has produced. To use his examples, first term Kayani fixed the mess that Musharraf made in the army. And Raheel Sharif has fixed the mess made by second term Kayani.

In other words, notwithstanding its susceptibility to problematic individuals, the Pakistan Army has sufficient organisational strength and institutional integrity that the damage which can be done by even a terrible leader is readily fixable by a good leader.

The fauji therefore looks at the messes made by civilians and assumes that the solution to the mess is to replace the ‘chief of civilian staff’ leader with his deputy. To put it mildly, this doesn’t work.

The reason why the ‘minus one’ approach doesn’t work when applied to civilian politics is because none of our political parties has any independent institutional existence comparable to the army. Take any political party in Pakistan today and remove its head: the entity which emerges will not just be exponentially weaker than its predecessor, it will – in effect – be a different party.

Seriously, think this point through. Imagine that tomorrow Imran Khan retires from politics, takes a vow of silence and goes for a long walk in the Hindu Kush. How long do you think the PTI would last?

Unfair, you may say. After all, the PTI is a new party. Obviously it is going to be dependent on the charisma of its leader.

My answer is that the same problems afflict even the two older parties. Benazir’s assassination and her replacement by Asif Zardari has resulted in a hugely weakened entity, just like the assassination of ZAB and his replacement by Benazir produced a pale shadow of the party ZAB had created.

As for the PML-N, it has to be remembered that the ‘N’ in the PML-N stands for Nawaz. Yes, the Noonies are the most institutionalised of all the parties. But even they are a far cry from matching the institutional identities of parties like the Democrats and the Republicans in the USA.

Louis XVI, the greatest of all French emperors and the builder of Versailles reportedly addressed the French parliament with the words, “L’etat, c’est moi.” Thankfully, the time has passed when any leader of Pakistan could say that. However, that pathology – “I am the state!” – is still true of our political parties. Our political parties are their leaders. Replacing one party leader with another and the result is a new party, not an improved party.

Let me spell out my argument. People who think that Pakistan is going to hell in a hand-basket (ie, the ‘drunken uncle’ brigade) need to stop fantasising about quick solutions. The army cannot fix Pakistan. Been there, done that. Repeatedly. More importantly, the army cannot midwife a better, more democratic Pakistan. If you decapitate a political party and replace its head, the ensuing chimera will be weaker, more corrupt and more incompetent than its predecessor. Yes, democracy sucks. But the alternatives are worse.

What then is the solution? Well, if you would like a long answer, please track down the forthcoming edition of the Journal of Development Studies and read the article on ‘Pathologies of Development Practice’ by Dr Ijlal Naqvi, distinguished (assistant) professor of sociology at the Singapore Management University. And yes, he’s my younger brother.

The condensed version of younger bro’s article is that governance reform efforts in the Pakistani electrical power sector failed despite people writing about (and recognising) the shortcomings of these programs before, during and after the programs failed. The World Bank and USAID even revisited these failed programmes and pointed out all that had gone wrong in earnest post mortems (before then repeating their mistakes all over again).

The point being made by younger bro is this: aid agencies (and other starry-eyed dreamers) constantly come up with programmes intended to recreate a Denmark in Pakistan. They even sketch out elaborate paths and multiple steps from here to there, forgetting that governance in the real Denmark evolved over decades (and centuries) of political compromise, and certainly not according to any preconceived plan.

In short, governance problems are complex and can’t simply be solved through preconceived notions. People are not machines. Not only are humans unpredictable but they have the capacity to learn from new situations and to then respond in ways intended specifically to stymie reform efforts.

As a consequence of this fundamental fact, the home-run approach very rarely works when it comes to governmental reform. Instead, what tends to work better is a ‘small-ball’ approach, empowering local actors to make multiple attempts to figure out solutions through trial and error. Compare the Citizen Feedback Monitoring Programme (growing out of Zubair Bhatti’s experiments in Jhang) to the ADB’s Access to Justice Programme. It takes patience, local knowledge, and a willingness to adapt – all factors in short supply at international development agencies.

While Naqvi junior doesn’t draw out the obvious parallel, fixing Pakistan’s political system is no more susceptible to quick fixes than Pakistan’s bijli system. Nobody – no matter how honest, no matter how well-intentioned, no matter how learned – can fix Pakistan’s problems in one go. Governance belongs to a different class of problem. You can’t create a competent state in one go any more than you can create a full-grown tree in one go. In both cases, growth will take time.

This column appeared in The News on 17 April 2016


In Uncategorized on November 5, 2016 at 4:44 am




Western travelers to the Moghul empire often noted that the fundamental relationship between the state and the subject (especially the prosperous subject) was adversarial. According to one observer at the Emperor Jehangir’s court, “There are very many private men in cities and towns . . . that are very rich: but it is not safe for them that are so, so to appear, lest that they should be used as fill’d sponges.” Another writer noted that, it was “not safe for [rich merchants] so to appear . . . for should the Mughal’s Officers see the Chests and Bags of Gold carried as publicly here, as they are in the Streets of London, they would be apt to change their Owner, and be deliver’d to him who calls himself the Original Proprietor.”[1]


It is important to examine the origins of Pakistan’s legal framework because laws are only a means to social ends. Furthermore, since law-making in Pakistan has historically tended to consist almost entirely of incremental and minor changes, many of the laws affecting private enterprise are still laws originally created by regimes which were either hostile or indifferent to private enterprise. If those laws are applied today without any consideration for the circumstances of their creation or the ethos embedded in them, they will continue to produce the results for which they were originally intended – and not the results currently desired.


For example, the days of the Mughals may appear to be long gone but the assumption that the Government is the ‘original proprietor’ of all wealth still lingers in the ranks of bureaucracy. More importantly, the laws of the Mughal also linger on in the form of the current system of land records which has hardly changed since it was created by the East India Company in the late 18th century by formalizing the land revenue system set up in the 16th century by the Emperor Akbar. In fact, the records of the land revenue system still serve in Pakistan as the primary land records even though the land revenue tax itself was abolished in 1977.


To take a more recent example than the land laws, the current regulatory framework relating to labour and employment issues consists of 161 laws, rules and regulations, many of which date back to the 1960s and 1970s when private enterprise was regarded with considerable suspicion, nationalization was the order of the day and Article 3 of the Constitution was drafted to provide that “The State shall ensure . . . the gradual fulfillment of the fundamental principle, from each according to his ability, to each according to his work.”


Given the multiple burdens of the past, one is tempted to describe private enterprise in Pakistan using Dr. Johnson’s quip about a dog walking on its hind legs: “it is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”[2] However, that analysis is no longer entirely appropriate. Currently, Pakistan is in the middle of a regulatory revolution, a paradigm shift in which the legal structures of the past are not only being refurbished but being reexamined and revised. In some cases, the reform is superficial. In some cases, the reform is fundamental. But, in almost all cases, there is a transition – or at least the beginning of a transition – towards a mode of administration in which the state and private enterprise are no longer adversaries but partners in economic growth.


Legal Framework


According to the World Bank’s latest report, “Pakistan ranks relatively well in starting a business – both globally and regionally.”[3] According to the time frames mandated by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), it should be possible to register a new company in four days.[4] However, independent estimates of the time needed to start up a company range from 24 days[5] to 13 days,[6] which though not great is at least significantly less time than the four months required in the 1990s. In any event, it is readily apparent that the formation of a company is no longer a significant hurdle for private entrepreneurs. Instead, the problem lies in the attributes of that company after it has been formed.


Corporations are deemed to be good for business for the simple reason that they limit the liability of their shareholders. Even if a company goes bankrupt, the most that a shareholder will lose is the value of his shares but he will not be liable in his personal capacity, like a member of Lloyds, “down to the last cufflink.” Companies are also good for business because they provide a structured way for people who may be complete strangers to cooperate and put their capital (both financial and intellectual) into productive use.  In other words, a shareholder can invest with confidence in the shares of a publicly traded company because he trusts that the relevant regulatory framework will force the management of the company to respect his rights.


The two most important goals for a corporate regulatory framework then are to ensure that corporations enjoy limited liability and to further ensure that corporate management respects the division between their own assets and the companies’ assets. On both accounts, Pakistan’s corporate regulatory framework needs work.


Admittedly, the limited liability of companies is never absolute. In practically all countries, the corporate shell does not protect against criminal charges or when the corporate form is being used to defraud. However, Pakistan’s laws go much further.


The single most important factor affecting limited liability of corporations is the demand by all banks for personal guarantees of the directors of the banks.  Till recently, this demand was non-negotiable because the prudential regulations issued by the State Bank of Pakistan mandated that banks obtain personal guarantees from all directors of private limited companies.[7] In 2003, the SBP changed its prudential regulations to allow banks to formulate their own policies with respect to personal guarantees.[8] However, this “relaxation” has yet to have any beneficial effect as all banks, practically without exception, still demand personal guarantees from all directors of private limited companies before giving any loans. Since Pakistan’s banking sector is now quite competitive, the continued demand for personal guarantees cannot simply be ascribed to bureaucratic inertia. Instead, the demand for personal guarantees continues till date because the banks have limited faith in their ability to recover loan amounts through the sale of pledged collateral.


The most blatant exception to the principle of limited corporate liability comes from the criminal law, and specifically the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Ordinance, 1999. Section 5(r) of the NAB Ordinance provides that “willful default” of a loan by a company to any entity or bank as a crime for which every director and controlling shareholder of a company can be held liable and punished with 14 years imprisonment. Furthermore, the term “willful default” was specifically clarified in 2000 to mean “any default” of more than 30 days,[9] in other words turning civil default into a strict liability crime!


The NAB law was one of the showpieces of General Musharraf’s regime in its early days and was based upon the simplistic assumption that defaulting businessmen were all shysters who would shell out the “stolen” amounts if treated with sufficient severity. Given the prevalence of bad loans in Pakistan’s banking sector in 1999, the anger which produced the law was understandable but the law itself was a disaster. As a consequence, the government was forced to retreat and introduce a provision that prosecution on willful default grounds could only take place with the approval of a committee created by the State Bank of Pakistan.[10] That committee has essentially stopped all fresh prosecutions on willful default grounds since 2002 but the NAB law still casts a long shadow over businessmen.


The point being made here is simple: business involves risk. More specifically, entrepreneurship involves risk. Criminalising the non-payment of a loan means criminalizing the taking of risks, which certainly operates as a disincentive to starting a new business. How many innovations would Silicon Valley produce if all those who failed in their endeavours faced the prospect of 14 years in jail?


Even apart from the well-publicised flaws of the NAB law, the government bureaucracy – and certainly the policy making parts – has yet to fully understand the benefits of limited corporate liability. For example, the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 still provides that all directors of a company are liable in their personal capacity for all defaults of the Company. [11] Furthermore, even when the law itself contains no specific provisions, state entities often use indirect means to pressure directors and shareholders for the alleged defaults of the company. In one case, for example, a former employee of a company was placed on the Exit Control List (and thereby barred from leaving Pakistan) on the grounds that his former employer had defaulted in payment of excise tax, even though the Central Excises Act, 1944 contained no provision placing individual liability on directors of companies (let alone employees). Even today, the website of the Employees Old Age Benefit Institution states that one of the mechanisms being considered by the government to improve compliance with EOBI laws is to make directors personally liable for defaults of the company.[12]


The issue of limited liability is one which strikes at the heart of corporate regulation. If companies do not enjoy limited liability – and if shareholders and directors do not enjoy some degree of protection from ordinary business risk, they will remain reluctant to involve themselves in business. At present, the risk associated with corporations means that many people who are not normally engaged in business often refuse to become directors in any company while people who are engaged in business refuse to become directors in companies that they do not control. In each case, the end result for the corporate sector is a loss of capital – both intellectual and financial.

The current status of labour regulations presents in a concentrated fashion all that is wrong with the regulatory environment in Pakistan.


The current universe of labour regulations consist of a stratified mountain of over 161 laws and regulations in which the earliest layer dates back to the early years of the twentieth century (such as the Mines Act, 1923), the middle layer consists of laws added during Pakistan’s romance with socialism during the 1960s and 1970s, and the final layer consists of random bits and pieces of legislation haphazardly tacked on during the last two decades.


The ad hoc construction of this edifice means that coverage of areas tends to be spotty. Thus while some issues (such as minimum wage) are massively over-regulated, some issues are ignored. For example, there is no general law dealing with occupational safety: instead there are only stray provisions contained in the Factories Act, 1934 and the Mines Act, 1923.


The problem created by a plethora of legislation is then further compounded by the fact that, under the Constitution of Pakistan, responsibility for labour legislation is shared by both the federal and the provincial governments. There are therefore multiple authorities simultaneously applying, enforcing and administering multiple legal regimes. The Federal Government, for example, is responsible for collecting benefits under the Employees Old Age Benefit Act, 1976 and the Companies Profit (Workers Participation) Act, 1968 while the provincial governments are responsible for implementing the Provincial Employees Social Security Ordinance, 1965, the minimum wage laws and the Workers Welfare Fund Ordinance, 1971.


More importantly, the multiple burdens imposed by the plethora of existing laws add up quickly: employers in Pakistan pay 13% of the salary of qualifying employees as benefits along with 7% of their profits.[13] Furthermore, employers have to file multiple returns with multiple regulators even though the information provided in each case is essentially identical. On the other side, workers seeking benefits have to approach multiple regulators to obtain benefits.


The final piece of the puzzle is that the vast majority of the regulatory framework is extremely intrusive and decidedly optimistic about the desire and ability of employers to make payments to the government (as opposed to bribing the relevant labour inspectors). The best example of the over-intrusive nature of labour legislation is the minimum wage notification issued by the different provincial governments.  Instead of simply specifying a minimum wage for unskilled labour, the latest notification issued by the Punjab Government specifies minimum wages for 7185 different classes of workers in 51 different industries, with many of the prescribed wages differing only by a few rupees.[14] Similarly, the cost of terminating a worker is prohibitively expensive with an employer having to pay 90 weeks in severance, penalties and notices to terminate a worker.[15]  The cost of terminating an employee is important because those costs are not payable if an employee is discharged for misconduct. The labour system therefore gives employers a positive incentive to fire their employees on trumped up charges which in turn means that the labour courts are full of cases in which the grounds of termination are under challenge. Not surprisingly, Pakistan ranks extremely low on a comparative basis both in terms of flexibility in hiring and firing as well as in cost of hiring and firing.[16]

The net result of all this is that the current labour system fails comprehensively on practically all counts. From the employer’s perspective, the labour laws represent a giant and extremely expensive headache, one which is best avoided by keeping workers off the books and farming out work to sub-contractors or by bribing the labour inspectors (or both).[17] Because most employers choose to evade the laws and not register their employees, many workers get no benefits and no job security whatsoever.


From the employee’s perspective, the results are equally disheartening. To begin with, the high cost of compliance means that employers prefer not to create jobs but to try and make do with their existing labour force. Secondly, to the extent jobs are created, employers prefer not to create permanent jobs but to contract those jobs out. As a consequence, temporary and unregistered workers remain at the mercy of the market and bereft of benefits. Furthermore, because employers are reluctant to create permanent workers they are equally unwilling to invest in worker training. And finally, because the cost of compliance is perceived as excessive by the business community, employers tend to fight back against unionization, preferring either to create a docile “pocket union” composed of favoured employees or else using strong-arm tactics to ensure that unions do not get formed.


The only bit of good news in all of this is that the government at least seems to have realized that the system has broken down and that it needs to be fixed. Following the report of a task force, the government adopted a new Labour Policy in 2002, incidentally the first labour policy since 1972, which begins with the sobering observation that “The traditional environment of mutual antagonism and mistrust between employers and labour has adversely affected

investment, business profitability and growth, all of which are crucial elements for ensuring security of employment, decent wages and social security for the labour sector.” [18] In consonance with the new labour policy, the government has embarked on an ambitious task of reformation and consolidation of labour regulation whereby the existing universe of labour laws is to be consolidated into five laws. The first of these laws, the Industrial Relations Ordinance,  was introduced in 2002 while the consultative process has been completed with respect to a second law, the Employment and Service Conditions Bill.


The regulation of real property is the single biggest and most important regulatory challenge confronting Pakistan today. Simply defined, capitalism consists of the belief that the most efficient use of capital arises when individuals are given the maximum freedom to decide how to use their capital.   If that is assumed (repeat, assumed) to be true, it follows that the state has a vested interest in ensuring that transfers of capital are made as secure, as quick and as efficient as possible. Since the primary form of wealth in Pakistan consists of real property, the state of Pakistan has a vested interest in ensuring that property transactions are as secure, as quick and as efficient as possible.


Given this objective, it can be readily seen that the regulation of real property in Pakistan is a miserable failure: every single possible transaction regarding real property in Pakistan is highly insecure, grossly inefficient and so unnecessarily encumbered by litigation and the threat of litigation as to be completely dysfunctional.


The fundamental problem with land regulation in Pakistan is that there is no system of recorded title in the country. The basic land records maintained by the provincial governments are not records of title and do not record definitively who is the owner of a particular piece of property. Instead, the basic land records in Pakistan are land revenue records, i.e. records of who is liable to tax on the property in question to the state. A person who is recorded as the owner of a particular property in the land revenue records is entitled to present those records as “prima facie evidence” of his title but a court may still decide that the property actually belongs to someone else.


In historical terms, the current system of land revenue records was first developed between 1571-82 by Raja Todar Mal, the famous finance minister of Akbar the Great. Subsequently, when the British East India Company conquered Bengal in 1757, it simply stepped into the shoes of the earlier ruler and continued the land revenue system as it provided the single largest source of revenue to the Company.[19] From then onwards, while the East India Company (and later the British empire) was to effect innumerable improvements, the fundamental nature of the land revenue system never changed. [20] Land revenue funds remained at all times one of the leading sources of income for the British and when Independence arrived in 1947, the system inherited by the new country of Pakistan was still recognisably the same system set up by Todar Mal in the 16th century, though of course it had been bureaucratized and organized with the utmost care by the British. Today, sixty years after independence, land revenue records in Pakistan are still maintained and kept in exactly the same manner as they were in 1947 even though the land revenue tax itself was abolished in 1977.


The fact that land records in Pakistan consist primarily of land revenue records is extremely important. Whereas the right to own property has been described as fundamental and indeed foundational by philosophers such as Locke, there was no equivalent right of “ownership” of real property in the Indian subcontinent. Instead, all land belonged to the king and the only right recognised by the king was the right of the occupier of that land to continue to occupy it, albeit only upon payment of a fee to the king. As explained by the 1899 edition of the Punjab Settlement Manual, “the share of the State which we call the land revenue is not a land tax. It is more analogous to rent.”[21]


More importantly, because the interest of the state historically consisted in identifying the person liable for payment of the ‘rent’ to the state, the fact that the system did not record title, or was only an imperfect proxy for title, was of minimal consequence to the state. Instead, because the right of possession was a consequence of the right to pay tax, the system placed an incentive on the private claimants to land to make sure that their title was recognised. However, there was no corresponding incentive for the state to definitively settle title disputes because the state continued to receive revenue pending the resolution of the title dispute.


The problems created by the absence of recorded title are further compounded by a number of factors. For example, Pakistani law recognises the concept of oral gifts. Thus, even though the land revenue records may show a person as the owner of a particular property, it may well be the case that another person holds title to that property because the property in question was orally gifted to him. Since oral gifts are ‘oral’, there is no way that any system of records can account for them.  Furthermore, since oral gifts are invariably disputed by the party being dispossessed, they also result in litigation.


A second complicating factor is that Pakistani common law recognises the concept of benami ownership. Benami literally means “without name” but in practical terms means a situation where the ostensible owner of a property is actually holding the property in trust for a beneficial owner. Since benami ownership is not recorded, land revenue records are incomplete to that extent. It may be noted that the identical problem used to be found in India till the Indian Parliament enacted the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act in 1988. In 2000, a draft benami law was prepared in Pakistan by the Government of the Punjab but never enacted. Subsequently, newspaper reports have appeared from time to time suggesting that a benami law is being prepared but to no effect.[22] In the meantime, the right of a beneficial owner to file suit against the ostensible owner of property continues to form the basis for litigation.


A third set of complicating factors is created by the Islamic law of inheritance. Under the Islamic law of inheritance, testamentary rights are limited to one-third of the estate. Instead, Islamic law provides that property held by a person devolves immediately upon his death in prescribed shares onto his legal heirs. Since there is no process of probate, the right of a legal heir to his or her share of property overrides all records to the contrary. Even to the extent that all the heirs of a particular landowner are recorded, ownership splinters within a few generations into smaller and smaller portions. For example, if a person has three equal and distinct parcels of land, and three sons, his three sons will each inherit an equal share in each property (rather than getting one property each). The ultimate result is that a multitude of individuals ends up owning very small shares in multiple properties.[23] However, when property is held in common, it becomes increasingly difficult to handle because each and every co-owner must agree to the disposal of the land.  If the co-owners cannot agree, as is often the case, the only solution is formal partition proceedings filed in a court of law, that is, yet more litigation.


One method which is increasingly used by parties to deal with the plethora of land-holders is to use powers of attorney. However, a power of attorney does not need to be registered in the locality where the land is situated. As a consequence, multiple powers of attorney can be registered for the same piece of land. In fact, as explained by one report, the entire system of registration is a misnomer:


Pakistani law does not view registration or any other record of rights in land as a guarantee from the government or its agencies that the person mentioned in the records of any agency is the rightful owner . . . . In transactions involving property transfers, the documents of ‘title’ provided by the seller to the buyer do not certify title. These are private documents that confirm one of the transactions in the entire chain of transactions. . . . . According to Rule 135 of the Registration Rules, 1929, it is not the concern of the Registrar to establish the validity of a document. In fact, he cannot even refuse to register a document on the grounds that it is a fraudulent transaction . . . . Not only is the Registration Office not supposed to go into questions of title, the legality of transactions and the validity of the document it is expressly forbidden by law to concern itself with these issues.[24]


Yet another factor which complicates the sale and purchase of land is that some provinces in Pakistan have enacted laws creating a right of pre-emption in certain instances. Under the Punjab Pre-Emption Act, 1991, the neighbour of a person selling agricultural land has a pre-emptive right to purchase the land, i.e. a right of first refusal. Since the right of pre-emption is regarded as a predatory right and consequently disfavored, the exercise of the right is subject to a number of stringent conditions. However, whether or not these conditions have been met can only be settled through litigation. Furthermore, the reason why the right of pre-emption creates problems is because land transfers are almost invariably under-reported in value so as to avoid taxes. If the declared sale price of the land is actually a lot less than the actual sale price (which is normally the case), the prospective seller clearly has much to lose from the exercise of the pre-emptive right of purchase (and conversely, the holder of the pre-emptive right has much to gain). Not surprisingly, litigation flourishes.


A final factor which exacerbates the situation (and provokes litigation)  is that while §54 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 provides that provides that no document creating any interest in land shall have any effect unless registered, §53-A of the Transfer of Property Act carves out an express exception for an agreement to sell. An agreement to sell does not confer title but it does give rise to a right of specific performance. In short, a buyer under an agreement to sell can file a suit to compel the seller to execute a sale deed with him even though the agreement between the parties is unregistered.  Since unregistered documents are relatively easy to forge, agreements to sell are the basis of considerable litigation.


Unfortunately, agreements to sell result in litigation even when not forged because normally land sales in Pakistan are made in stages. At the first stage, the prospective buyer will submit a token payment and in return obtain copies of the relevant documents for due diligence. If the documents are acceptable, the buyer then signs an agreement to sell and makes payment of a further amount, normally ranging between 20%-40% of the total price. The remainder of the purchase price is then due upon the signing of a sale deed and the handing over of possession, which typically occurs 3 months later. However, if the payment is delayed, then the agreement to sell may or may not be valid (depending upon the amount of delay and the language of the agreement to sell). Furthermore, if the price of the property has risen in the interim period, the seller may wish to refuse to accept payment and then lay the blame on the buyer. Either way, litigation often ensues.


The end result of all these complicating factors is a system tailor-made to produce litigation. According to some measures, disputes over property account, by some measures, for as much as 90% of pending civil litigation. Furthermore, the volume of litigation generated by property disputes is so huge as to completely overwhelm the judicial system. A study conducted for the ADB, for example, found that the average time period taken for a civil dispute to be adjudicated in the Sindh High Court (excluding appeals) was 118 months.[25] One consequence of this endemic delay is that many property cases are filed not in order to seek ultimate relief but for “strategic reasons,” i.e. to obtain interim relief in order to get the opposing party to negotiate on preferential terms. Furthermore, the fact that the system is clogged with property disputes means that even non-property disputes (such as breach of contract cases) take unconscionably long to adjudicate.


The uncertainty of title directly affects private enterprise in a number of ways. Most importantly, the fact that title to property is almost invariably riddled with flaws means that the value of real property as collateral is compromised.[26] Pakistani banks, for example, are reluctant to advance more than 50% of the assessed value of property even though in other countries with more robust systems of title, it is not unusual for financial institutions to lend as 90% (or more) of the value of a property. That 40% differential (between 90% and 50%) is dead value, a burden imposed upon the people of Pakistan imposed directly by a dysfunctional system of property regulation. This point needs to be kept in mind while examining surveys dealing with the amount of time it takes to register a property interest. If the interest which is secured is contingent and incapable (in many instances) of being enforced, the time taken to register the interest is irrelevant.


The problems caused by the deficiencies of the land titling system (or lack thereof) are then further exacerbated by the fact that Pakistani law allows parties to create unregistered security interests in land through the creation of an “equitable mortgage.” More specifically, §58(f) of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 provides that the mere retention of the title deed to a property gives the holder of the title deed a security interest in the property. Since equitable mortgages are not required to be registered (and consequently are not normally registered), the result is yet more uncertainty for both buyer and lender alike.  More importantly, not only does the system allow for the creation of unregistered mortgages but by imposing a substantial level of taxes on registered mortgages,[27] it used to practically force lenders not to opt for registered mortgages. Not surprisingly, most bankers report that even in the case of the largest loans, they will execute a registered mortgage for a token amount (normally 5%) and have an equitable mortgage for the remainder (though this may change given the recent decrease in rates).


The land revenue system is not the only system of land regulation nor is it universally applicable. In traditionally urban areas, no land revenue was payable and hence land revenue records are not available at all. As a consequence, the only centralized record of land available with respect to historically urban areas such as the Walled City of Lahore, are those maintained with the relevant sub-registrar under the Registration Act, 1908 or, in some cases, by the excise department.  Land revenue records are also not maintained with respect to military cantonments which instead have an entirely separate system of records. Additionally, large urban areas have been developed by official housing and development authorities. In each case, these housing authorities (for example, the Lahore Development Authority) maintain their own records. Finally, there are a large number of private co-operative housing societies which maintain their own internal land records.  The end result again is that land records are fragmented across different authorities. In the case of Karachi, urban land is held by eleven different types of authorities: 3.7% of land is, for example, held by more than 50 different co-operative housing societies.[28] Each housing society then operates its own system of records which runs in parallel to the land revenue records. The systems operated by the different societies vary widely in quality with the land records of the military operated housing societies being perhaps the most sophisticated and well organized. Perhaps for this reason, land in military run housing societies commands a healthy premium over urban land in other areas.

Land use and commercialization policies are also extremely problematic in Pakistan. Under the rent restriction laws of Pakistan, every lease is a lease forever – at least until the tenant defaults in payment of rent or the landlord is able to prove his or her personal need for the property in question. Since the law also restricts the landlord’s ability to increase rent, existing tenants often have a very strong incentive not to vacate their leaseholds. The end result, yet again, is litigation which clogs up the legal system. According to one study, for example, approximately 6% of all reported cases decided by the Supreme Court of Pakistan for the period 2000-05, related to rent matters. Conservatively speaking, the minimum amount of time required to evict a recalcitrant tenant is two years whereas 5-7 years is not unusual. The consequence of this unnecessary litigation is that rental space is at a premium. Some landlords refuse to rent their properties to other Pakistanis, instead reserving their properties for multinationals and foreigners. In many cases, people refuse to let out their properties at all, preferring to let their properties stay empty than take the risk of the property being caught up in litigation. To the extent that landlords are willing to rent, it is normal for them to seek massive security deposits (equal to one or even two year’s rent). Finally, to the extent that rent control legislation is effective in preventing landlords from ousting tenants, the protections of the law are exercised not by poor people (who do not have the funds to access courts) but by middle class and by upper middle class people. Thus, to the extent the rent control laws are being justified on grounds of pro-poor protection, that protection is being misdirected. In any event, even if low-income tenants are being benefited by rent control laws, that certainly does not justify the extension of those protections to middle-income tenants.


Most Pakistani cities have commercialization policies which severely restrict the ability of commercial developers to develop property.  Part of the problem is due to the simple fact that land use plans were originally developed in the major cities at a time when the population of the cities was considerably less. According to one source, the urbanized land area of Karachi was only 349 sq km as per the 1974 Master Plan but 3,520 sq. km as per the 1988 Master Development Plan.[29] Furthermore, to the extent any town planning was being carried out, it was being done by a bureaucracy which normally saw no reason to accommodate any demand for commercial property. Since the massive increase in population meant that an increase in commercial activity was unstoppable, commercial builders often resorted to illegal tactics in order to protect their projects. This unchecked and unplanned commercialisation has in turn been countered in cities like Karachi by a nascent environmental movement which responds to all commercial development using scorched earth tactics.[30]


In comparison to the apparently insoluble complexities of land regulation, the regulation of taxation in Pakistan is not only healthy but one of the clear success stories of the Musharraf regime. The reform drive in the area of taxation was initiated in 2001 following the receipt of a hard-hitting report authored by an independent Task force on Tax Administration which made the fundamental point that “the relationship between the taxpayer and the tax collector is largely adversarial. Neither the taxpayer nor the tax collector has faith in the other’s integrity.”[31]


The most important consequence of the report and the subsequent reforms is that the Central Board of Revenue has abandoned its old emphasis on punitive methods and has instead embraced a more open system which provides a more balanced set of incentives to taxpayers.  For example, previously every single income tax return was (in theory) subject to scrutiny. This policy was abandoned in 2002 and instead replaced with an ambitious policy of universal self-assessment. Similarly, on the customs front, every inbound shipment is no longer inspected. Instead, shipments are assessed using a risk-management software which identifies high risk shipments which are then inspected in a manner so as to reduce contact between importers and the valuation experts. Finally, in the context of sales tax, the entire sales structure was streamlined by making most export-oriented industries zero-rated. The result of these reforms has not only been a more business friendly tax regime but a striking increase in tax receipts as can be seen from the gross annual recoveries shown below.

















As part of the Finance Bill, 2007, the CBR has been reorganized and renamed as the Federal Board of Revenue. While the change in nomenclature is not important, what is important is that bill is intended firstly to enhance the autonomy of the CBR and secondly to allow an increase in salary to employees of the CBR. The increase in salaries is simple common sense – one cannot realistic pay a miniscule wage to revenue officials and then hope to avoid corruption. The formal autonomous status of the CBR is however, more important because it is a structural reform which will serve Pakistan’s interests well. To understand this point, it must first be appreciated that Pakistan’s tax laws are by and large configured in such manner that all important decisions (such as the rate of taxation of particular goods and the manner of collection) can be determined by the executive branch (i.e. the CBR) without any legislative action. One example of this approach is provided by the Federal Excise Act, 2005. Under §3 of the act, all goods manufactured in Pakistan, all goods imported into Pakistan and all services provided in Pakistan are subject to 15% excise duty. However, under §16, all goods and services except those notified by the CBR from excise duty. Thus, the only goods and services which are actually liable to tax under the Federal Excise Act are those determined by the CBR.


Given that taxation policy and rates are controlled by the CBR, it is vitally important that the CBR should be operationally autonomous and not susceptible to “persuasion.” During most of the 1990s, the CBR was not autonomous but was instead seen as a byword for political corruption. In one notorious case, the duty structure applicable to steel was allegedly changed specifically by the Benazir government specifically to try and bankrupt her political opponent (who was the owner of steel mill). Whether that is true or not, the perception regarding the misuse of the CBR was such that when General Musharraf passed the NAB Ordinance in 1999, the abuse of the CBR for political purposes was specifically and separately declared to be a crime.[32]


The other consequence of the fact that taxation policy resides in the hands of the executive (rather than the legislature) is that some sort of protection needs to be given to businessmen against arbitrary or unexpected changes in tax rates. The irony of this point is that this protection had been extended to businessmen by the Supreme Court in the Al Samrez case,[33] in which it was held that when the Government withdrew an exemption relating to customs duty, that exemption would not affect such goods with respect to which the importer had already made an irrevocable commitment of payment. Unfortunately, in 1988, the Customs Act was amended through the addition of §31A to provide that no matter what the Government might have said earlier, the rate of taxation would be the rate applicable on the day the goods landed in Pakistan. In short, if the exemption was withdrawn while the goods were in transit, that was the importer’s risk.


It is important to understand that §31A only allows the Government to realize the additional customs duty for goods which would be imported within the normal period for which a letter of credit is opened, i.e. about three to four months. By contrast, the change in risk profile for an importer is massive. Now, when the government announces an exemption, the importer has to factor in the risk that the exemption will be withdrawn after the goods have been paid for but before they have landed. If that risk is unacceptable, the exemption will be useless.


In comparison to other sectors, the financial sector regulatory mechanisms are both relatively recent and in accord with modern trends. The responsibilities of the central bank are performed in Pakistan by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) which was created first by the State Bank of Pakistan Order, 1948 and then, on a more formal basis, by the State Bank of Pakistan Act, 1956. Under the latter act, the SBP is authorised to “regulate the issue of bank notes and keeping of reserves with a view to securing monetary stability in Pakistan and generally to operate the currency and credit system of the country to its advantage”. In 1997, the autonomy earlier granted to the SBP was formalised through a series of amendment ordinances, giving full and exclusive authority to the SBP to regulate the banking sector, to conduct an independent monetary policy and to set limits on government borrowings.


While the commercial banking sector is controlled by the SBP, the remaining regulatory functions with respect to the financial sector are carried out by the SECP. The SECP is thus formally responsible for regulating the insurance sector, pension funds and non-banking financial companies such as  investment financial services, leasing companies, housing finance services, venture capital investment, discounting services, investment advisory services and asset management services. In addition, the SECP also regulates various external service providers that are linked to the corporate sector, like chartered accountants, rating agencies, corporate secretaries and others.


The legal status of administrative tribunals in Pakistan is a problem which has emerged over the past decade and which has yet to be clearly examined. The problem arises because in a series of landmark decisions from 1997 onwards,[34] the Supreme Court held that the right of access to justice was a fundamental right which required that “judicial power” could only be exercised by “courts”. The term “court” was then restrictively defined to mean tribunals subordinate to the High Court of each province manned by independently appointed judges.


The problem with the “judicial power” argument is that it is an extremely amorphous concept, residing, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder. At this point the problems inherent in the adoption of this line of reasoning have yet to fully emerge because the only tribunals which have been examined by the Supreme Court (such as military tribunals) have been ones which have been emphatically unconstitutional. However, there are any number of other administrative tribunals which are less controversial (such as tax tribunals or competition authorities) and which exercise what looks very much like judicial power. Indeed, it is standard practice for a particular area of the economy to be regulated through a comprehensive statute which in turn creates a specialized tribunal to handle disputes arising under the statutes (albeit normally with a right of appeal to the regular judicial hierarchy). Such statutes and tribunals, for example, exist with respect to the oil and gas sector, telecommunications, electricity, electronic media, competition law, corporate law and securities regulation.


With notable exceptions, the statutes creating administrative tribunals are relatively new. For example, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority was created by statute in 2002, the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1997, the  National Electric Power Regulatory Authority in 1997, the Telecommunications Authority in 1996 and the Electronic Media Regulatory Media in 2002.  This fact is significant because statutory bodies created from the 1990s onwards have normally been created following input from multilateral institutions and with at least some knowledge of the fact that sufficient provision must be made to hire qualified professionals. As a consequence, the administrative tribunals created for each sector are reasonably well regarded by the relevant business communities though the one complaint which is found across the board is that these institutions lack independence when it comes to balancing the government’s interests against those of the private sector.


In comparison to the newly created regulatory bodies, the creation of the Board of Investment (BoI) to provide a unified forum for dealing with issues relating to foreign direct investment has been less successful.  Created by the Board of Investment Ordinance, 2001, the BoI is charged by law with the responsibility “to promote, encourage and facilitate local and foreign investment.” However, the institutions which are most directly relevant to foreign direct investment are the SECP and the SBP, not the BoI. The SECP is relevant because all foreign companies which have “established a place of business” in Pakistan are required to provide certain documents to the SECP (such as copies of their memorandum and articles of association.) Furthermore, the repatriation of profits is regulated by the State Bank of Pakistan under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947 (“FERA”). Under clause (ii)(l) of Paragraph 13 of Chapter XIV of the Foreign Exchange Manual, any application for remittance of profits must be accompanied by a letter from the Board of Investment giving the relevant company permission to operate in Pakistan. Registration of a foreign company with the BoI therefore confers no additional benefits but is merely a documentary formality. It is also worth noting that foreign companies cannot simply submit one set of documents to the BoI but must submit separate sets of largely identical documents to all three institutions. Finally, while the BoI is legally equipped to serve in a co-ordinating role, it has yet to perform that function. For example, the tourism policy on the website of the BoI states that tourism projects will be entitled to all such concessions as are being provided to industries. However, there is currently litigation pending in the Punjab where the Punjab Government is refusing to treat tourism projects (hotels) on the same concessionary rate as that being allowed to other industries. This dispute is exactly the sort of problem the BoI is supposed to help resolve (and preferably avoid).


Implementing Institutions


Like many other bureaucratic institutions in Pakistan, the land revenue regulation authorities are divided into two cadres of officials. The lower level cadre of officials consists of village and tehsil-level officials such as patwaris, kanungos, and tehsildars, who serve in the field. The senior level cadre of officials consists of young bureaucrats inducted directly at management positions who oversee the management and administration of land records in positions associated with the various district governments. However, the overall management of the land record system (to the extent of land revenue records) vests not with the district governments but with the provincial Boards of Revenue which are charged by law with “the general superintendence and control over all Revenue Officers and Revenue Courts.”[35]


Notwithstanding its elaborate and detailed manuals and mechanisms, the land revenue system is simply a blatant form of institutionalized corruption. Lower level officials, such as patwaris, have massive discretion in the manner in which they perform their obligations and are paid an absolute pittance. As a consequence, the right of the patwari to charge bribes is so well established that it might as well be enshrined in the Constitution. At the higher levels, corruption is less entrenched but nonetheless endemic. The Government of the Punjab is currently spearheading a movement to initiate the computerization of land reveneue records. Certainly, the computerization of the records will increase transparency and will perhaps reduce the patwari’s ability to extract transaction costs. But the computerization of an inherently flawed system only means that that inherently flawed results will be more easily accessible.


The Securities and Exchange Commission, which deals with matters such as the registration of companies, was the first of Pakistan’s major regulatory institutions to be thoroughly revamped.  Prior to 1999, the corporate sector and the securities market were regulated by what was called the Corporate Law Authority, which suffered from the usual bureaucratic maladies of bloat and sloth. The SECP was therefore formed as an independent and autonomous regulatory body with broad authority to cover not just the corporate sector and the securities market but a whole host of other areas such as the insurance sector and private pensions. Starting with the appointment of Mr. Khalid Mirza as Chairman,SECP in 2000, the SECP has consistently sought to fill its senior management positions with well regarded professionals. Furthermore, even at the lower end of its ranks, the SECP did not simply continue all the employees of the CLA but instead only employed the pick of the ranks at much higher salaries than were earlier being paid. As a consequence, the SECP has been perceived by the market as being far superior to (and more business friendly than) its predecessor institution.


In recent years, the SECP has run into personnel problems, typified perhaps by the abrupt departure of its chairman, Dr. Tariq Hassan, in January 2006. Dr. Hassan was a former World Bank official with an impeccable record who was fired by the Prime Minister during Eid vacations. Dr. Hassan has subsequently claimed that his departure was due to his getting close to a few “big fish” amongst the stock-broking community allegedly responsible for the crash of the stock market in 2005.[36] The merits of Dr. Hassan’s claims may be debatable, but the vision of a former chairman of the SECP publicly accusing the prime minister, the finance minister and the prime minister’s advisor of unethical behaviour has done little for the morale of the institution itself, which has been reported as being at its lowest level since the formation of the SECP.[37] It is also worth noting that the SECP Act, 1997 was recently amended to provide that the policy committee of the SECP would be chaired not by the Chairman of the SECP but by the Finance Minister or his nominee. As a consequence, the SECP is certainly less autonomous than it was before. The decline of the SECP, however should not be over-emphasized. Recently, the SECP undertook a pre-emptive takeover of an investment bank (owned by a politically influential family) whose management had invested funds into real estate schemes in apparent violation of applicable laws. The swift action by the SECP avoided a wider fallout, established a welcome standard of oversight and resulted in the protection of the general investor through a negotiated sale in favour of a fresh investor who has agreed to make full payment, inclusive of accumulated interest, to almost all the concerned parties.


The State Bank of Pakistan is the main institution charged with regulating the financial sector, and in particular, charged with regulating commercial banks. The State Bank has consistently been regarded as one of the premier policy institutions and, as a consequence, has managed to maintain high levels of professionalism. In recent years, the State Bank has taken an important step towards maintaining its distinct status by spinning off its day to day operations into a separate subsidiary company controlled by the State Bank and leaving the main State Bank to deal with higher level policy issues. The State Bank has therefore continued to produce high levels of economic research and is staffed by a relatively well qualified team of professionals. The State Bank was thus headed for a period of six years (1999 — 2005) by Dr. Ishrat Hussain, a well respected former World Bank official. After his retirement, he has been replaced by Shamshad Akhtar, a former ADB official and Pakistan’s first female governor of the State Bank.


Notwithstanding its many strengths, the State Bank continues to be hampered by its assumption that it alone stands between the nation and fiscal ruin. That attitude may have been justified when the banking sector was dominated by public sector banks but is no longer justified in today’s situation when the banking sector has been largely privatised.  In this context, specific reference may be made to the SBP’s recently promulgated guidelines regarding write-off of loans.[38]  Under the new guidelines, loans can only be written off once all liquid securities and assets have been exhausted and after the relevant bank official has certified that neither the borrower nor the guarantor have any known means of repayment.  It is not in dispute that during the 1980s and 1990s, the write-off process was exploited by well-connected political figures and business at the expense of public sector banks. However, once those banks have been privatized, it follows that the decision whether or not to write off a loan should be left to the commercial discretion of the banks themselves. The irony of the SBP’s position is that the SBP is well aware of the fact that such maximalist regulations only lead to a build-up of unsustainable debt within the banking system which eventually has to be removed, as was the case in 2003, through a general amnesty scheme.  To the extent the SBP wishes to establish limitations on the write-off process, it should seek the promulgation of the draft Corporate Rehabilitation Act which was drafted with the active involvement and engagement of the State Bank.


As noted above, the current system of labour laws fails to benefit either the business or the worker communities. Furthermore, the labour system fails miserably in providing benefits to those workers who are covered by the myriad laws enacted ostensibly for their benefits. Since benefit schemes are disaggregated amongst many different authorities and hence workers seeking benefits have to access a number of different offices to get their benefits. More importantly, funds which are collected ostensibly for the benefit of workers all wind up going into the Federal Consolidated Fund from which limited amounts are then doled out to provincial committees which in turn have limited capacity to spend the funds and even less ability to ensure that those funds do not get misused. In the year 2005-06, a total of Rs. 10.6 billion was collected as workers welfare fund contribution, the total budget allocations of the provincial workers welfare boards was Rs. 4.91 billion and the total amount actually spent by them was Rs. 2.59 billion. In other words, almost 75% of funds collected for the purpose of workers welfare, were never spent for that purpose. The retention of funds earmarked for employee benefits by the federal government is a scandal which even the State Bank has strongly condemned.[39]


The most significant new development in the field of labour regulation is the turn away in the new labour policy of 2002 from a trilateral approach (with workers, employers and government all involved in negotiations) towards a bilateral approach. In a trilateral system, both workers and management see no reason to compromise because the casting vote is with the government representative. In a bilateral negotiation system, both parties have an incentive to drop their maximalist positions and instead try to reach a reasonable compromise. The push towards a bilateral approach appears to have been initiated first by the Workers and Employers Bilateral Council of Pakistan (Webcop), an institution founded by 54 founding representatives from both the workers and the employers sides.  Subsequently, when a new labour policy was promulgated in 2002, it stated explicitly that “Bilateralism is the core element of the new Labour

Policy. The principles, objectives and action programme of the policy concentrate on the creation of relationship of trust and cooperation between employer and employee under the strategy of least intervention by the state.”  Furthermore, bilateralism appears to be not just an empty slogan but one which has genuine support from all stakeholders. According to one government representative, the recent raise in the minimum wage had not been independently decided by the Government but had been referred to Webcop for an equitable decision. As he put it, “these guys have to deal with each other and so they act reasonably. If they were talking to us, there would be no hope.”  In addition to Webcop, the labour sector appears to be one of the few areas in which there is an outside agency which genuinely contributes to the terms of the debate through research and analysis, namely the Employer’s Federation of Pakistan (EFP).  Formed in 1950, EFP is one of the oldest institutions of its kind in Pakistan and one which is regularly involved at both the national and international level in representing the interests of the Pakistani business community.


Notwithstanding the existence of such genuine institutions as Webcop and EFP, the current status of labour regulations is certainly not something which can be defended as either appropriate or justified. The short version is that at present, the governments of both Sind and the Punjab have simply suspended all labour inspections for all practical purposes. Furthermore, the suspension of inspections is not being done sub rosa but with considerable pride. The representatives of the Sindh Government, for example, were at pains to stress the fact that they had stopped all inspections as part of their “business friendly” polices. Similarly, the Punjab Government announced its move to suspend inspections as part of its Industrialisation Policy 2003.[40]


In order to understand this drastic step, it needs to be recalled that by 2003, the combination of practically unlimited discretion and minimal pay had earned labor inspectors a well-deserved reputation for rent-seeking. Nonetheless, allowing the de facto suspension of the current labour regulatory system is a dangerous tactic and can easily lead to the demise of what looks to be a promising start towards bilateral cooperation.


In the meantime, the only compensatory pressure being applied with respect to social compliance issues is that being applied by international businesses. The most well-know case in this regard is that of Saga Sports in Sialkot whose long-standing relationship with Nike was cancelled due to concerns over the treatment of workers. Nike has instead entered into a relationship with a different company by the name of Silver Start Sports, which has in turn promised a generous array of benefits to its workers. Furthermore, while Nike has its own social compliance team, many export oriented industries (including the textile sector) are cognizant of this aspect and are trying to pre-empt international concerns by getting themselves certified as SA 8000 compliant. The Ministry of Commerce is also trying to assist in this regard by subsidizing compliance and certification procedures for international standards such as SA 8000. However, businesses which are not export oriented obviously feel no reason to get certified as being compliant with SA 8,000. Thus, while the Ministry of Commerce’s initiative is certainly a good step forward, it is by no means an adequate replacement for a functional monitoring system with respect to labour rights.


In the context of tax regulations, one of the most significant changes in recent has been the complete overhaul of the internal dispute resolution process with respect to taxation disputes. Only a few years ago, the situation was dire. This situation was then tackled through a number of measures, most notably through the introduction of Alternate Dispute Resolution procedures and the addition of extra officers to deal with disputes. As a consequence of these measures, more than 82,000 pending appeals have been disposed of at the collectorate/commissioner level and the only cases now pending before the CBR’s internal hierarchy are fresh cases. The disposal of cases has also been pursued with the formal judicial hierarchy as well with encouraging results. Thus, out of 25,000 appeals pending with the appellate tribunal, almost 21,5000 have been disposed of while similarly, out of the 1950 appeals pending with the Supreme Court, 1650 have been disposed of leaving behind a pendency of only 293 cases.[41] This overhaul of the dispute resolution system is certainly one of the most welcome (and significant) changes to have taken place in Pakistan’s regulatory regime over the last few years.


At present, the institution charged with monitoring competition law is the Monopoly Control Authority (MCA) which functions under the Monopolies and Restricted Trade Practices Ordinance, 1970 (MRTP). The MRTP has been scheduled for some time to be replaced by a new competition law drafted with assistance from international agencies such as the World Bank. The current status of the new law is however unclear. According to some reports, the draft law has been shelved for the time being due to opposition from “vested interests.”[42] If true, this would be an unfortunate development as the enactment of a new competition law is considerably overdue.


The current competition law is predicated on the assumption that the accumulation of wealth in private hands beyond a particular amount is against the public interest. Consequently, the primary function envisaged for the MCA is the identification and removal of unsightly private wealth (“the undue concentration of economic power”)[43] with the removal of anti-competitive anomalies (‘unreasonably restrictive trade practices”) coming in a very distant second. Not surprisingly, the MCA’s own website states that, “the existing law . . . is not in line with the policy of the government for a free market economy with key elements of liberalization, de-regulation, privatization and attracting investment.”[44]


Perhaps because of its unrealistic mandate, the MCA has kept a very low profile for most of its existence, and particularly since 1977. Recently, however, the MCA has emerged from the bureaucratic wilderness to try and reinvent itself as a competition authority, resulting in well-publicized orders against cartels operating in the cement and sugar sectors. Unfortunately, the MCA’s efforts have failed and its constitutional status has been challenged before the courts (which have also suspended enforcements of the orders).


Supporting Institutions


Discussions regarding regulatory reform in Pakistan take place almost invariably with the involvement of a minimal number of people and in the face of complete apathy from the bar associations, the media, academia and most importantly, Parliament. The fact that there has been considerable regulatory reform within the past few years has nothing to do with any systemic or institutional improvements: instead, such reform has been driven entirely by a few competent and driven individuals appointed at the top of their respective institutions by the current regime.


To understand this sorry state of affairs, it is necessary to return once more to Pakistan’s roots as a colony of the British empire. When Pakistan became independent in 1947, it inherited a very weak system of parliamentary governance and a very strong system of bureaucratic administration. In the famous words of Hamza Alavi, Pakistan was at birth an “over-developed state.”[45] As a consequence of this inheritance, and helped in no small part by the abysmal performance of democratic institutions during the early years, the bureaucracy acquired a dominant role in not just administering but developing economic and social policy, which role it has not relinquished till date. Furthermore, the bureaucracy certainly did not see its primary role as the facilitation of private enterprise: Pakistan’s capital was shifted in 1962 from Karachi to Islamabad precisely so that government officials could be protected from the supposedly corrupting influence of businessmen. The dominant role of the bureaucracy was also not changed by the advent of socialism under Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Instead, the bureaucracy enthusiastically participated in the large-scale nationalization of industry because state control of the means of production was an idea which dovetailed perfectly with the pre-existing notion of a centrally planned and controlled economy. The subsequent years of martial law only consolidated the hold of the bureaucracy on regulatory issues


So far as the year’s following General Zia’s dictatorship are concerned, it is a moot point as to whether the bureaucracy’s unchallenged dominance on policy issues was due to the abdication by Pakistan’s elected representatives of their fundamental responsibilities or whether Pakistan parliamentarians degenerated into a familiar pattern of corruption and rent-seeking because they were left no option by “the system.” The fact remains that Benazir Bhutto was twice elected to power in 1989 and in 1993 and that in both instances, her governments failed to pass a single act of parliament worth remembering (other than the annual budget). Nawaz Sharif’s record is considerably better in this regard but the regulatory reform laws passed by his governments (such as the SECP Act, 1997) were never debated to any meaningful extent by Parliament. In fact, the Nawaz Sharif government passed two constitutional amendments in 1998, both without any debate whatsoever! Furthermore, the second of those amendments changed the Constitution to provide that any member of Parliament who voted contrary to his party’s instructions could be expelled from parliament. Clearly, members of Parliament were not being expected to provide intellectual input on legal reform issues.


To General Musharraf’s credit, he has not taken the route chosen by his democratic predecessors and simply outsourced policy analysis to the donor community. Instead, there has been a genuine effort by the government to utilise and empower domestic resources and experts. Nonetheless, the current situation is still very much that legal reform is discussed meaningfully only by a very small number of people, the vast majority of whom are government servants.


It also needs to be appreciated that the legal community is not particularly interested in regulatory reform for the simple reason that most lawyers deal only rarely, if ever, with business issues. One reason for this unusual fact is that there is an enormous amount of property related litigation which keeps lawyers busy and that as a consequence of the resulting delays, businessmen see civil courts as a complete waste of time. Thus, rather than seek damages for a breach of contract case, a businessman is more likely to try and initiate criminal proceedings against his opposing party so as to negotiate a solution on his preferred terms. Commercial cases pending in the courts therefore tend to relate far more to disputes between a businessman and the state rather than private-private disputes.


The regulatory framework does not get much attention from universities and think tanks either. In the first instance, higher education in Pakistan is only now beginning to emerge from decades of not just neglect but absolute squalor. Till very recently, there was practically no research of any worth being done in any of the universities, especially in areas other than the hard sciences. Secondly, to the extent there was any work being done with respect to the social sciences, such work was often conducted by an intelligentsia hostile to the concept of private enterprise.  Once again, there are now some bright signs. For example, the Lahore University of Management Sciences has started a new school for Law and Public Policy. Similarly, the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) had recently shown extremely encouraging signs of life under the dynamic leadership of Mr. Nadeem ul Haque, a former senior official of the IMF. The fact that Mr. Haque has since resigned his post due to lack of institutional support is quite unfortunate. As noted by Mr. Haque himself, imported expertise is only rarely a substitute for home-grown solutions.[46]


In comparison to the slow pace of change in the academic and legal sector, the private sector is showing itself as being increasingly capable of conducting policy analysis. The most usual form of private sector participation in regulatory reform is through policy suggestions forwarded by the regional chambers of commerce and industry (with the Overseas Investors Chamber and the Karachi Chamber being the most active). There are also numerous sector-wise trade associations which regularly interact with the government of which the All Pakistan Textile Manufacturer’s Association (APTMA) is by far the most active. In the context of labour laws and regulations, the Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP) is an extremely well organized entity which presents the industry perspective with considerable force. Finally, professional associations, such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP), are highly regarded and consulted in issues related to their field.


Social Dynamics


It cannot be doubted that the last few years have been a watershed moment in Pakistan’s economic development and that Pakistan’s laws are now far more accessible and open to private enterprise than at any moment prior in Pakistan’s existence. Notwithstanding this welcome news, it also needs to be remembered that these changes have been driven almost entirely from above through the appointment of key individuals to key posts, with the appointment of Mr. Abdullah Yousaf as the Chairman CBR being perhaps the best example.


The problem here is that while the ad hoc appointment of talented individuals to key posts works in the short term as a reform strategy, it does not work in the long term. In fact, even in the short term, it is a strategy which is limited to a few areas of excellence. The challenge then is to evolve appropriate institutions which will continue to drive reform in the future.


The obvious reform option is to try and increase the capacity of Parliament to provide leadership on regulatory reform issues. In an ideal world, this would certainly be the best option: the only problem here is that most of Parliament itself is not particularly interested. The simple reason for this attitude is that Pakistan already has a very strongly developed political culture in which the primary expectation from parliamentary representatives is the delivery of spoils. That culture certainly needs to change but the chances of it changing radically (and sufficiently) in the immediate future are slim. As proof, one may note that even though this is an election year, there is currently no policy debate going on between the various political parties nor have any of the main opposition parties made any effort whatsoever to campaign on the basis of their vision for government. The current website of the Pakistan Peoples Party, for example, lists only one document on their website under the heading “What’s New”, which document in turn consists of a laudatory ode (in rhyming verse) regarding the achievements of the late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.[47]


The other reform option is to try and activate civil society so that the citizens themselves can serve as the engines of change. While this option is again wonderful in theory, the fact remains that Pakistan’s civil society organisations are still nascent and in no condition, yet, to serve as the basis for sustained regulatory reform.


Given the fact that there are no other options available, the answer which emerges is that regulatory reform can only be institutionalized by working with and through the bureaucracy, not by running it into the ground. The problem here is that ever since independence, various political regimes have sought to consolidate their power by weakening the powers and independence of the civil service. Thus even though Pakistan was fortunate to inherit a civil service in which the country’s best and brightest were proud to serve, decades of deliberate neglect have since destroyed the bureaucracy’s ability to attract human capital. In 1969, Aitzaz Ahsan (currently a famous lawyer, and then a fresh graduate from Cambridge) created a nationwide scandal by refusing to join the Central Superior Services after standing first in the competitive exam. Today, there is absolutely no chance that somebody with the equivalent of Mr. Ahsan’s skills and qualifications would even sit for the CSS exam. In the words of one commentator, the only thing which is still superior about the civil service is its attitude. Today, the civil service in Pakistan represents the worst of both worlds in which bureaucrats still control all the levers of power but they are no longer paid a living wage and are ominously susceptible to political interference.


Given this situation, it would seem counter-intuitive to strengthen a bureaucracy in a nation which has already suffered in the past from an excess of central planning. The short version, however, is that political and administrative system of Pakistan is already optimized for executive action. If those executive officials can be convinced of the merits of regulatory reform, the entire system will follow suit. More importantly, there is much that can be done relatively easily.


At present, the senior ranks of the civil service in Pakistan are filled through a competitive exam in which young graduates (aged between 21 and 28) take part. In 2006, a total of 7066 candidates applied for positions out of which 275 were selected for further training. The candidates who succeed then select their practice group from a list of ten options (such as the Foreign Service or the police). All candidates are first provided a common training program of one year followed by separate courses related to their individual practice areas. At the end, the annual graduating class inducted into what is termed the Central Superior Services tends to number between 100-150.


The point to note from the above is that the annual intake of the civil service is still a very small number, many of whom still join with the best of intentions. Furthermore, notwithstanding its many vicissitudes, the senior bureaucracy is still regarded with considerable awe by the general public.  The simplest way then to ensure that the best and brightest once again start applying for government posts is to start paying them not just a living wage, but a wage which competes favourably with the best that the private sector has to offer. The second step which needs to be taken is that the education of civil service entrants needs to be upgraded and radically revised.


The current training of the civil service entrants does not accomplish much besides teaching them how to ride and how to understand the land revenue records. According to the current Director-General of the Civil Services Academy, civil service entrants do not need to be taught how to ask questions. Instead, that very dangerous step was to be reserved till such time that they qualified for further training, approximately 10-15 years later.


The solution here is not to change or reform the training being provided at the Civil Services Academy but to change the academy itself. Pakistan now boasts several excellent liberal arts and business schools which are internationally competitive. In the presence of these universities, it makes no sense for civil service entrants to continue be taught in isolation. Instead, the civil service authorities should work out training programs to educate civil service entrants at these universities. It is extremely significant to note that the CBR has already adopted this position by sending all its junior officers to study for a one year executive MBA at the Institute of Business Administration in Karachi. That model now needs to be expanded to include all civil service officers, with preference being given (if necessary) to officers of the District Management Group as they are the ones most likely to be placed in policy-making positions.




Regulatory reform is obviously necessary on a systemic basis to protect the rights of women. The clearest example of this point is, once again, the regulations relating to land. Islamic law provides clearly for the inheritance rights of women but in actual practice, women rarely received their Islamic share of inheritance, particularly when the inheritance consists of real property. Because land holdings are so non-transparent, women often have no idea as to what the assets available for distribution. More importantly, agricultural land in rural areas tends to be held in common by multiple co-owners. Since women are often not physically present at the site of the land, having moved out of their parental household as a consequence of marriage, one of the most common ways in which women get cheated out of inheritance assets is that their brothers or other claimants will argue that the asset in question has been orally gifted to them. Since brothers normally live in the parental house and till the parental lands, a woman who wants to challenge the “gift” faces the prospect of decades of litigation during which time her brother occupies and enjoys the land at her expense.


Women are also disproportionately hurt by the laws of benami. Thus, even if a husband buys and places land in the name of his wife, or if a father places land in the name of his daughter, it is open to later claimants to question the title of the daughter or the wife to that land. Since women are often at a remove from familial lands, they are consequently restricted in their ability to maintain possession of their lands and to thereby protect their assets. When it comes to land-related litigation in Pakistan, possession is a lot more than nine-tenths of the law.


From 2001 onwards, Pakistan has seen a grand experiment in gender sensitization through the provision of reserved seats for women at all levels of government. To the extent that this provision of reserved seats was supposed to result in increased gender sensitivity in Parliament (or in the provincial assemblies) it has yet to bear significant fruit. Female parliamentarians, like their male counterparts have shown no appetite for reform whatsoever. The debate on the Women’s Protection Act in 2006, for example, was entirely on partisan lines with no deviation being shown by parliamentarians on the basis of the gender-sensitivity of the law.


In comparison to parliamentary reform, the chances of getting pro-women regulatory reform through the bureaucracy are far higher.  In the first instance, the bureaucracy is regarded socially as an acceptable career for women in Pakistan (which helps qualified women apply for government posts). Furthermore, it is far easier to sensitise a limited number of civil servants to the need for gender-based reform than it is sensitise an entire population.  To the extent then that gender based regulatory reform needs to be advanced in Pakistan, it would certainly be strengthened if the current crop of civil service entrants were placed within the confines of a modern liberal arts university.




  • The laws affecting personal liability for corporate acts need to be reviewed and revised so as to firmly establish the concept of limited corporate liability. In particular, the crime of willful default under the NAB Ordinance needs to be repealed.


  • The land regulatory system needs to be comprehensively re-examined and reworked. More specifically:
    • A system of recorded title needs to be developed, most likely on the basis of the land use records maintained by the excise department.
    • Pre-emption laws need to be repealed.
    • The right of benami needs to be abolished.
    • Oral gifts and transfers of land need to be abolished.
    • The Transfer of Property Act should be amended to disallow equitable mortgages and taxes on registered mortgages should be minimized if not eliminated.
    • The Registration Act, 1908 should be amended to provide that powers of attorney relating to land must be registered only in the locality where the land is situated.
    • It needs to be studied whether there is any manner available to formalize the Islamic inheritance system, consistent with Islamic law, so as to avoid the problems currently created by it.
    • The rent control laws need to be revised and/or abolished.


  • The draft competition law needs to be finalized and enacted.


  • The draft corporate rehabilitation act needs to be finalized and enacted.


  • §31A of the Customs Act, 1969 should be repealed.


  • The law creating the FBR needs to be amended to provide formally for the autonomy of the FBR. The Chairman FBR should therefore be appointed for a fixed five year term and should be removable only for good cause shown.


  • A comprehensive program of civil service reform needs to be initiated in which adequate arrangements are made to pay not simply a living wage to bureaucrats, but wages such that the civil service can once again compete with the market for the best minds.


  • The education and training of civil service entrants needs to be reviewed and revised. Instead of continuing with mediocre standalone programs, the training of the civil service should be carried out at the best universities of the country through special programs.


  • Independent think tanks need to be funded and created so as to promote rational and well reasoned policy research in Pakistan.


[1] Both quotes are from Abraham Eraly, “The Last Spring: The Lives and times of the Great Mughals” (Penguin 1997), p. 722.

[2] Boswell, “The Life of Johnson” cited at http://www.samueljohnson.com/dogwalk.html#53

[3] World Bank, Doing Business Report 2007, p. 45

[4] Companies Registrations Offices Regulations (2003), SRO No. 89(I)/2003

[5] World Bank, DB 2007, p. 45;

[6] FIAS Report, p. 168

[7] See clause D, BSD Circular Letter No. 7 dated 31 May, 1972 (“No banking company shall make advances to a private limited company without obtaining a personal guarantee of the directors of such company in addition to the normal security which the banking company may require.”)

[8] Regulation R-10, Prudential Regulations for Corporate/Commercial Banking, issued by State Bank of Pakistan (www.sbp.org.pk/publications/prudential/PRs-Corporate.pdf)

[9] National Accountability Bureau Amendment Ordinance, 2000

[10] See §25Aof the NAB Ordinance, added vide National Accountability Bureau (Second Amendment)Ordinance, 2000

[11] See §200 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001

[12] http://www.eobi.gov.pk/InstitutionalStrategy/institutional%20strategy-main.html

[13] Employers are required to pay 6% of an employee’s salary under the Employees Old Age Benefits Act, 1976 and 7% of an employee’s salary under the Provincial Employees Social Security Ordinance, 1965. In addition, 2% of profits is payable under the Workers Welfare Fund Ordinance, 1971 and 5% is payable under the Companies Profits (Worker’s Participation) Act, 1968.

[14] See Notification dt. August 8, 2006 issued by the Minimum Wages Board, Punjab (minimum wage for head mali (gardener) in “Cycle and Cycle Parts Manufacturing Industry” fixed at Rs. 166.65 per day; wage of normal mali fixed at Rs. 158.96)

[15] See World Bank Report No. 38075-PK, “Pakistan Labor Market Study: Regulation, Job Creation and Skills Formation in the Manufacturing Sector”, p. 20.

[16] Chart and figures taken from World Bank Report No. 38075-PK, “Pakistan Labor Market Study: Regulation, Job Creation and Skills Formation in the Manufacturing Sector”, p. 20.

[17] According to one source, there are only 32,000 registered workers in Sialkot out of a total workforce of 300,000. Similarly, the Sindh Social Security department proudly reports that it has a total of 412,000 registered workers whereas the total population of Sindh is about 40 million and the workforce eligible for registration is estimated at 4 million.

[18] Government of Pakistan, Labour Policy 2002, p. 13 (http://www.pakistan.gov.pk/divisions/labour-division/media/LP2002.pdf)

[19] See Schwartzberg, A Historical Atlas of South Asia (p. 214) at  http://dsal.uchicago.edu/reference/schwartzberg /pager.html?object=252&view=text (“land revenue provided roughly 56% of the total revenue of British India in 1856-57).

[20] See generally, Dutt, “Economic History of India” (online at http://socserv2.mcmaster.ca /~econ/ugcm/3ll3/ dutt/EcHisIndia2.pdf

[21] Sir James Douie, “The Settlement Manual” (Sixth edition)(reprinted by Mansoor Book House, Lahore), paras 1-2.

[22] “Efforts under way to evolve uniform law of Benami transactions in provinces,” Dawn, May 10, 2005

[23] In Sialkot, the team was shown a register which recorded a share of 7/2506 of a particular person which proportionately amounted to about 20 sq yards of agricultural land. According to the EDO (Rev), neither the size of the holding nor the proportion held were unusual.

[24] “Land Markets in Peshawer and Karachi,” Issues and Polices Consultants, p. 5. In some cases, notably with respect to the Defence Housing Authority, Lahore, powers of attorney are simply not accepted because of concerns regarding fraud.

[25] Study conducted by Mr. Shahid Kardar, copy on file with author.

[26] As noted by the Privy Council in as far back as 1872, “the difficulties of a litigant in India begin when he has obtained a decree” (cited in Jameela Pir Buksh v. Appellate Authority, 2003 SCMR 1524).

[27] Till 2003, a total of 2% was payable in the Punjab which has now been reduced to a total of .045%. However, total charges in Sind are still at 2%. Unregistered equitable mortgages, by comparison are free.

[28] “Land Markets in Peshawer and Karachi,” Issues and Polices Consultants, p. 25

[29] http://www.urckarachi.org/land.htm

[30] A good example of the typical article opposing commercialization is provided by Fatima Bhutto, “Dubaistan.” http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=43295. For a comprehensive response to Ms. Bhutto’s article, see “Development blues of the coast of Karachi”, http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=43295 http://ko.offroadpakistan.com /karachi/2007_02/development_blues_of_the_coast_of_karachi.html

[31] The Report of the Task Force on Reform of Tax Administration can be accessed at http://www.cbr.gov.pk

[32] See §9(a)(vii) of the NAB Ord.,199 (corruption and corrupt practices defined to include the issuance of “any directive, policy or any SRO or any other order which grants or enables any undue concession or benefit in any taxation matter”).

[33] Al-Samrez Enterprises v. Federation of Pakistan, 1986 SCMR 1917

[34] Mehram Ali v. Federation of Pakistan, PLD 1998 SC 1445; Liaquat Hussain v. Federation, PLD 1999 SC 504

[35] See §4, Punjab Board of Revenue Act, 1957.

[36] Rauf Klasra, “State Minister, adviser accused of links to brokers,” The News International, July 8, 2006

[37] Naveen Mangi, “Challenges for the new SECP Chief” Dawn, Jan. 23, 2006.

[38] BPRD Circular No. 6 of 2007 dated June 5, 2007

[39] See SBP’s Financial Sector Evaluation, 2003 at http://www.sbp.org.pk/publications/FSA-2003/Chapter_6.pdf.

[40] Punjab Industrialisation Policy 2003 (Copy on file with author). See also “CM announces social security reforms, industrial body”, Daily Times, June 25,2003 (at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_25-6-2003_pg7_17) A new national Labour Inspection Policy has been promulgated but it does not appear as if any significant steps are being taken towards its implementation. The Labour Inspection Policy 2006 can be accessed at http://www.pakistan.gov.pk/divisions/labourdivision/media/LIPDraft5Mar06.pdf

[41] See Quarterly Report, May 12, 2007 at http://cbr.gov.pk/FRS/2007/May12-2007.pdf;

[42] Ihtashamul Haque, “Government drops Competition Commission Plan”, Dawn, June 21, 2007. See also Monem Farooqi, “Legislation against Industrialists delayed”, Nation, July 4, 2007.

[43] Section 3 of the MRTP declares all “undue concentration of economic power” to be illegal. Under section 4 of the MRTP, all undertakings with an aggregate value of more than Rs. 4 billion (US$ 66.66 million) which are not owned by a public company or owned by a public company in which one person controls more than 50% of the voting shares constitute an “undue concentration of economic power.”

[44] See http://mca.gov.pk/message.htm

[45] Hamza Alavi, “The State in Post-Colonial Societies” (New Left Review, July/August 1972)

[46] Nadeem ul Haque, “Where do policy ideas come from in poor countries?” http://www.brecorder.com/index.php?id=431640&currPageNo=1&query=&search=&term=&supDate=

[47] http://www.ppp.org.pk/mbb/Poems/poem7.htm

Lions beneath the Throne: The Judiciary and Politics in Zia’s Pakistan

In Uncategorized on June 14, 2016 at 12:19 pm



In Uncategorized on June 13, 2016 at 4:29 am





The Kalash Kafirs, an ethnic group of 2500 people, live in three remote mountainous valleys in Pakistan. The last remnants of the fabled Kafirs of the Hindukush, who as recently as 1896 numbered more than 100,000, the Kalash are an island of paganism in a sea of hostile Muslims. Their culture, little changed over the past 3000 years, will probably not survive beyond the next few generations, besieged as it is by modernity as much as by missionaries.

If left to fend for themselves, the Kalash as a distinct group will soon disappear. It seems difficult to imagine that they could preserve their identity and culture given the increasingly determined attempts to convert them. Their survival will probably depend on whether the government of Pakistan decides it can forgo the revenues generated by their status as tourist displays. Whatever the motive, preservation of the Kalash as a distinct people will require a series of affirmative measures. Moreover, given the dire economic straits within which Pakistani governments function, their protection will require treating them preferentially.

Today, concern for indigenous people is as much a part of Western political orthodoxy as is concern for the environment. Recently, this concern has manifested itself primarily through what some term the emerging international law norm regarding the rights of indigenous peoples. This norm, at the very minimum, safeguards the right of communities to exist as distinct units of human interaction. More functionally, application of this norm requires consideration of the land rights and political self-expression of indigenous peoples. Indeed, the steps that need to be taken with respect to the Kalash are consistent with this emerging norm. However, the thesis of this Article is that, as currently conceptualized, this norm provides no basis for arguing that international law obligates Pakistan to help the Kalash survive as a distinct ethnic and religious group.

Advocates of indigenous rights justify the preferential treatment of indigenous groups either as compensation for historical suffering and a disproportionately disadvantaged present condition, or by expanding individual entitlements to include a right to cultural integrity and development. However, the core concern of the indigenous rights norm — in this case, the right of the Kalash to continue existing as a distinct unit of human interaction — is implicated even when these justifications are of no use. Thus, one cannot argue that the Kalash deserve preferential treatment because they are worse off than other ethnic or religious minorities in Pakistan. It is true that the Kalash’s quality of life as measured by such objective criteria as literacy rates, income, and access to health care is shockingly low. However, the quality of life of most Pakistanis, as indicated by those same statistics, is just as deplorable. From a comparative perspective, the Kalash are no more deserving of government aid than many other equally impoverished Pakistani citizens.

Similarly, one cannot justify preferential treatment because the Kalash are victims of colonial oppression. Unlike the Latin American and North American indigenous peoples, no easy distinction between settler and native, right and wrong, applies here. The Kalash are just one of many equally indigenous groups, and one has only the vagaries of history to blame for the beleaguered survival of this once proud culture. Moreover, Pakistan is essentially unconnected to the events most responsible for the current condition of the Kalash: the massacre and forcible conversion of the Kafirs of the Hindukush in 1896. An Afghan king perpetrated those acts with the active connivance of the British Empire.  [*675]  Though Pakistan may have succeeded to the obligations of the British legally, asking it to atone for the sins of its colonial masters is hardly justifiable.

To the extent that scholars have tried to develop legal foundations for an indigenous rights norm which would protect the right of indigenous communities to continue their distinct existence, those foundations are somewhat dubious. Though some indigenous rights theorists base their arguments on an expansive reading of instruments such as the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”), the explicit text of the ICCPR itself, the travaux preparatoires, or even subsequent interpretation and state practice regarding the ICCPR, does not support them. Similarly, the expansion of individual entitlements to include such “Third Generation” rights as the right to development and the right to cultural integrity suffers in that the international community does not generally recognize such rights as binding legal obligations requiring affirmative action. More importantly, because “Third Generation” rights are individual and not collective rights, they are inherently incapable of providing a basis for distinguishing between the cultural integrity or developmental rights of members of one community and members of another. Rhetorically, one may ask: Do the cultural integrity rights of the Kalash somehow require greater attention than the cultural integrity rights of other individuals?

One is forced to conclude that the indigenous rights norm provides no basis for arguing that the Kalash deserve government support to preserve their status as a distinct community. Two possible avenues result: The first would admit no distinct norm of indigenous rights. In this case, “indigenous rights” merely refers to the application of universal human rights to particular groups. Indigenous peoples deserve aid not because they are a distinct community, but because they are disproportionately poor: the fact that they are “indigenous” is irrelevant except to the extent that it affects they way in which the remedy for their poverty is to be framed. Similarly, indigenous peoples deserve aid not because they are distinct, but because they are victims who deserve compensation from the successors of their victimizers: the fact that they are “indigenous” is irrelevant except that the label identifies a particular set of events as the acts of victimization.

The second avenue would reconceptualize indigenous rights on a truly universal basis. Indigenous rights must be conceived so that the continued existence of a community as a “distinct unit of human interaction” is protected as a worthwhile end in itself. In other words, communities have a right to continued and distinct survival which is as precious to them as the right to continued existence is to any individual. This right of communal survival will be found in international law by expanding the right of all peoples to self-determination. That is, self-determination should not be limited to the right of individuals to a government of their choice and therefore limited to concerns of political autonomy or sovereignty, but should include the right of a community to define itself. In other words, the right of self-determination includes, at an irreducible minimum, the right of a community to exist, if not entirely on its own terms, then at least in a manner that preserves its distinct identity.

This Article does not argue that this second avenue is normatively superior to the idea that there is no distinct norm of indigenous rights. Instead, this Article argues that the rhetoric of indigenous rights is at odds with its present conceptual foundations, and it presents an alternative framework which is consistent with both international law as well as the right of indigenous communities to continue as “distinct units of human interaction.”

[*676]  As such, this Article is divided into two major parts. The first part provides an historical overview of the Kalash by tracing their progress from their first appearance in recorded history to the present. It then gives a detailed picture of the Kalash today, in particular the pressures and difficulties facing them, as well as the measures they and the Pakistani government are taking to preserve their identity and way of life.

The second part gives an historical overview of how indigenous peoples and minorities have fared as subjects of international law over the centuries, starting with the discovery of the Americas by the Spaniards and finishing with the League of Nations and the minority treaties. It then examines how post-World War II developments in the law of international human rights have affected indigenous peoples. The Article concludes by examining the efforts made by indigenous rights advocates to construct an international norm.

In the last part, the Article draws together all of these various strands to show how both the post-World War II human rights framework in general and the current development in the rights of indigenous peoples in particular cannot provide a specific answer to why Pakistan owes a duty to help the Kalash. The international human rights regime, by taking an obsessively individualistic approach, does not properly address indigenous rights. Current ideologues are doing themselves a disservice by justifying indigenous rights entirely in terms of historical or comparative analyses that are not universally applicable. If indigenous rights are to be construed as truly universal rights, then the conceptual basis of human rights must be expanded to address not only the value of an individual’s life, but also the value of a community’s life, separate and distinct from that of its members.

  2. The Kalash in History

In 1890, the British had been in India for over three hundred years, the last forty or so as rulers from the peaks of the Khyber to the tip of the Deccan peninsula to the hills of the headhunting Nagas in Burma. There was still one area, however, that (frustratingly for the British) bore more than a passing resemblance to those vast emptinesses on medieval maps, which inventive cartographers had populated with dragons and mermaids. Kafiristan, (literally, “Land of the Pagans”) a remote mountain fastness wedged between the Pamirs and the Hindukush, even as late as 1885 had never been visited by a European.   n1 Daunted by its reputation, travelers either had chosen to bypass it or had failed to penetrate it. One traveler, W.W. McNair, disguised himself in native clothing and stained his skin with walnut juice to reach the Kafirs but was rebuffed. His conclusion, as presented to the Royal Geographical Society, was that after Kafiristan no other areas would be left to explore.   n2

[*677]  Little was known except that the people were pagan, ferocious, and fond of wine. Ignorance led to fear, and Kafiristan’s reputation was “as terrible as it was imprecise:”   n3 the Kafirs were “huge as giants, speaking an unknown language, clad in black, with hearts as dark as their clothes.”   n4 Even a usually restrained English traveler to Afghanistan noted that “the Kaffirs live in a most barbarous state, eating bears and monkeys.”   n5 Where these mysterious wild people had come from was another continuous source of speculation for European ethnologists. Many authors agreed with the local myth that the Kafirs were the descendants of Alexander’s army. One writer claimed they were a lost tribe of Jews who had “entirely forgotten their law, and had fallen into idolatry,”   n6 another that they were the last remnants of a once vast Central Asian Christian community,   n7 a third that they were “the modern representatives of that very ancient Western race, the Nysaeans — so ancient that the historians of Alexander refer to their origin as mythical.”   n8

However, as more recent scholars have pointed out, “The mystery of origins excites the imagination, but in the attempt to force the pieces of an ethnic puzzle into place and to square cultural coincidences, fantasy takes precedence over precision.”   n9 In fact, linguistic and ethnographic research indicates that the Kafirs were originally part of the Aryan hordes that swept down from the steppes of Central Asia to conquer the plains of India around 2000 B.C.   n10 Instead of continuing on with the invaders, they decided to linger on the southwestern side of the Hindukush mountains,   n11 where they were met a thousand years later by the advancing armies of Alexander the Great.   n12 According to Kafir legends, the Kalash’s military performance was so impressive that Alexander asked for a contingent to fight with him in his Indian campaign.   n13 “The Kafir[s] sent between 1,000-2,000 young men, who did yeoman service as scouts for Alexander in the Battle of  [*678]  Jhelum and in hundreds of smaller skirmishes”   n14 and who subsequently returned to Kafiristan bringing with them many elements of Greek culture.   n15

Alexander’s armies were only the first of many the Kafirs were to face. During the seventh century, Kafiristan came under the sway of the T’ang dynasty (A.D. 618-906)   n16 and legend has it that when the Arabs fought the Chinese in Turkestan during the seventh century, a small party came to Chitral and fought the Kafirs.   n17 This first contact between Islam and the pagan Kafirs proved telling because from then on the Kafirs were most often a footnote to the exploits of Muslim conquerors. The first of these conquerors, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, took the time in 1020 to “reduce to obedience” a defiant group of Kafirs in between his famed seventeen invasions of India.   n18 Three centuries later, Tamurlane made several forays against the Kafirs,   n19 for by then “it was considered a work of religious merit to exterminate these Kafirs.”   n20 The founder of the Moghul dynasty, Babur the Conqueror, invaded Kafiristan twice, in 1507 when he plundered expedition rice fields in the valley of Biran and again in 1514.   n21

An unremitting hostility between the Kafirs and the surrounding lowland tribes of Afghanistan, which had converted to Islam by the eleventh century, resulted in Kafiristan’s being cut off from the world:


[*679]  The singularity of Kafiristan and other mountain areas indeed is preconditioned by geography but became really effective when the surrounding lowlands were conquered by the expanding force of Islam. A bar was laid which was not opened before the conversion of the mountain valleys themselves. For Kafiristan proper this means an isolate development between the 11th and the 19th centuries A.D. Before the 2nd millennium A.D. the exchange of men and ideas went much easier.   n22


Of course, Kafiristan’s isolation and its reputed terrors served for some only as an invitation to glory. The Jesuits of Agra, for example, obtained permission in the 1670’s to undertake a mission to Kafiristan. The experiences of the chosen emissary, a certain Father Gregorio Roiz, are not recorded with the exception of a single paragraph in the annual report sent to Rome in 1678. In that paragraph, he concludes with respect to the Kafirs that “owing to their great dullness and greater barbarity I did not find dispositions in them for receiving the Faith, nor did I discover any indications that, as the Armenians had told us, they had been Christians at one time.”   n23

Still, the geographic isolation of Kafiristan and the tenacity with which the Kafirs defended their territory preserved their island of paganism in a sea of hostile Muslim tribes. For one thing, the main military weapon of the time, armed cavalry, was largely ineffective against their mountain retreats. More importantly, the tribes of Afghanistan (then, as now, unparalleled in their fratricidal tendencies) were hardly ever able to mount a coordinated attack on the Kafirs.   n24 However, both of these factors had changed considerably by 1890. Under Amir Abdul Rahman, the Afghani tribes had not only been cowed into unity, but the Amir’s army had the most modern technology the British had to offer.

This is not the place to examine the convoluted history of 19th-century Afghanistan, but a few points must be underscored. British interest in shoring up India’s hitherto largely ignored western frontier with Afghanistan only emerged in 1807 when Alexander of Russia and Napoleon tentatively discussed invading India via Persia.   n25 The joint invasion was wildly impractical, but Charles Miller notes “it seldom required much more than even the accidental blink of an alien eye in the direction of the subcontinent to spread panic through British cabinets and deprive otherwise keen-minded British statesmen of rudimentary common sense.”   n26 The immediate result of this panic was a treaty of friendship in 1809 between the British and Afghanistan’s current ruler, Shah Shuja. The defeat of the French at Waterloo eliminated them as a possible source of worry, but English interest in Afghanistan continued to increase due to Russia’s expansionist aims. In 1838, the arrival of a Russian envoy in Kabul alarmed the British to the point that Baron Auckland, the Governor-General of India, was authorized by the  [*680]  secret committee of the East India Company’s Board of Directors to “interfere decidedly in the affairs of Afghanistan.”   n27 Accordingly, a small issue between the two nations was exaggerated into a quarrel   n28 and a large invading force was sent off to Kabul to replace Dost Mohammed, the Amir of Afghanistan, with a ruler more amenable to outside control.   n29 The British were initially successful, entering Kabul on August 6, 1839,   n30 but a series of colossal military blunders and a fatal underestimation of the degree to which their presence inspired resentment culminated several years later in the annihilation of almost the entire British force.   n31

This stain on British honor had to be avenged. After the aptly named Army of Retribution had salved some pride by blowing up the Kabul bazaar,   n32 it was decided that the prudent course was to restrict British ambitions to the east of the Indus and “leave it to the Afghans themselves to create a government amidst the anarchy which was the consequence of their crimes.”   n33 The fruits of this policy, dubbed “masterful inaction,”   n34 were to last for thirty years, but by the 1870’s a new and more interventionist “Forward Policy” was on the rise. The result of this pigheadedness was another invasion of Afghanistan in 1878.   n35 This time, the British were somewhat more successful in the military field,   n36 but still no wiser as to what to do with Afghanistan. The eventual solution decided upon was to establish a new ruler, “not only acceptable to the people . . . but submissive to the British will”   n37 and the candidate selected was the grandson of Dost Muhammad, Amir Abdur Rahman.

Amir Abdur Rahman’s biggest sorrow perhaps was his fervent belief that “had he lived in an earlier age and not been crushed . . . like an earthenware pot between the rival forces of England and Russia, [he] might have founded an Empire, and swept in a tornado of blood over Asia and even beyond it.”   n38 Deprived by history of any chance of emulating Ghengis Khan,   n39 he concentrated on transforming Afghanistan from “a henhouse of squabbling headmen into something like a sovereign state.”   n40 Abdur Rahman’s methods were not for the meek: he once confessed to an English visitor that he had ordered the execution of more than 100,000 Afghans, punishments which included not only the routine sentence of being shot to death by the muzzle of Kabul’s daily gun but more  [*681]  inventive judgments such as having bandits skinned alive at a leisurely pace.   n41 The Afghans were no strangers to rough justice, but Abdur Rahman’s sentences were carried out on a more massive scale than any previous attempts. Whether as a result of his methods or otherwise, the Amir succeeded in uniting the country to a far greater degree than any previous ruler.

But one fact Abdur Rahman could not escape was that he had only two options, to join the British sphere of influence or the Russian. Since the Amir believed the Russians to be incorrigible haters of Islam, “to be a pawn of London and Calcutta rather than a serf of St. Petersburg seemed to him the lesser of two evils.”   n42 And in 1885, when Russian jingoism resulted in border skirmishes with the Afghans,   n43 the resulting coziness between the Amir and the British led to the Amir’s army being presented with new artillery pieces as well as twenty thousand of the most modern breech-loading rifles.   n44 The Russian attack on Afghanistan never materialized but the Amir’s army was ready to face all challenges. The only challenge before them, however, was the continued boundary dispute between the Afghanis and the British. This dispute was abruptly settled with the signing of the Durand Treaty in 1893 which attempted “to delineate once and for all British and Afghan responsibilities in the Pushtun area.”   n45

Since the Durand Treaty essentially consisted of a grand concession by the Amir of a vast amount of territory to the British,   n46 historians have been at a loss ever since to explain why the Amir would take such a step. Some have hypothesized that the Amir was so “bamboozled” by the British negotiator that he was unaware of the exact amount of property he was conceding.   n47 Others argue that the Amir intended his concessions to be only temporary and not a permanent cession of sovereignty.   n48

One factor generally overlooked is that the British also tacitly agreed to recognize Kafiristan as part of the Afghan sphere of influence and fair game for the Amir’s hitherto suppressed expansionist ambitions. As one contemporary author argued, “Kafiristan was the purchase-money for value supposed to be received.”   n49 Indeed, for Amir Abdur Rahman, the subjugation of the independent Kafirs served a number of purposes:


By its surrender the Ameer [sic] was able to recover in the eyes of his subjects, and more especially in the eyes of the priesthood, some of the disgrace involved by the surrender of tribesmen who had so earnestly pleaded not to be made over to the English. He would accomplish that which all previous Sovereigns had failed to do; and he would become, and would go down in history as, a great champion of the Faith.   n50


Moreover, wholly apart from the defeat and conversion of so many infidels, “the Amir feared that the occupation of the Pamirs by Russia and of Chitral by Britain might  [*682]  endanger the integrity of Afghanistan through the still independent Kafiristan.”   n51 Thus, when the Amir sent his armies into Kafiristan in the winter of 1895, he was indeed killing two birds with one stone. “The Kafirs were no match for the Amir’s government, owing to their small number (60,000), their primitive weapons (spears, bows, arrows, and some rifles),   n52 and the inroads of Islam into parts of their lands . . . .”   n53 The attack occurred in the winter of 1895-1896, so the Kafirs could not, as they had in the past, escape to the high meadows with their cattle.   n54 Consequently, “they had to fight in the valleys against troops well equipped with modern guns produced in Afghanistan by the British Government.”   n55 The resulting casualties were correspondingly lopsided. According to one source, 10,000 Kafirs were killed by Abdur Rahman’s troops as compared to only 600 Afghan soldiers.   n56 A postinvasion census by Amir Abdul Rahman only recorded 24,000 people as compared to preinvasion population estimates ranging from 200,000 to 600,000.   n57 Accurate eyewitness reports of what actually transpired are practically nonexistent, but the Amir’s usual reaction to any hint of opposition was extremely bloody:


Killing of the insurgents . . . was not only inevitable; it was made a duty for the army. The army officers were explicitly authorized to destroy the insurgents and to seize their property by any means available. Kalla minars (heaps of skulls) were erected from the heads of the fallen insurgents and their skulls raised on spears to impress others not to follow their examples. It was a common practice to send captured ringleaders on to Kabul in chains and to keep others and their sons as hostages. Crops and villages were burnt, trees cut, [forts] destroyed, movable property seized, and new forts for the army built in the lands of the insurgents. The defeated insurgents were heavily fined and women often dishonored.   n58


Some writers claim the Amir’s forces were comparatively “gentle” in their treatment of the Kafirs.   n59 Perhaps in comparison to his normal methods, these observations might be true, but from a modern perspective, there is nothing mild about the massacre of hundreds and the forcible conversion of thousands.   n60 Surprisingly, when reports of these actions began filtering back to the British public, there was a considerable degree of  [*683]  public outcry over what one author described as the news that “the brethren of the European, the remnants of a prehistoric culture — and that, too, the prototype of our own — the tribes that for a thousand years have so bravely resisted Muhammadan slaveraids . . . have been handed over by Christian, missionary, and ‘righteous’ England to inevitable extermination.”   n61 Associations such as the Aborigines Protection Society and the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society also wrote angry letters to the India Office demanding that it protest the subjugation of the Kafirs.   n62

But for every bleeding heart, there were any number of calculating proponents of realpolitik. One writer to the London Times, for example, argued that “the Kafirs have no claim on our sympathy unless we conceive it to be our mission to support a community of robbers and women of easy virtue simply because they have paler faces than their neighbours, and have called themselves the brothers of the Feringhee.”   n63 Even among British officers familiar with the area, there was not much sympathy for the Kafirs. As Colonel Algernon Durand, the architect of the Durand Treaty and a long-time veteran of the Frontier, noted:

Personally I did not expect the denouement to come so soon as it did, but I cannot say I was sorry when it did come. The only real cause of sorrow, when the Amir conquered the country, lay in the unscientific character of his methods, which destroyed the possibility of fully studying the Kafirs before their conversion to Mahomedanism. . . . From the archaeological point of view, the fact that a fanatical Mahomedan soldiery has swept over Kafiristan, and subdued it, gives much cause for grief. But the sentimentalism which in the Kafir saw the noble savage stretching out his arms to welcome his brother Aryan, the Englishman . . . was born of ignorance. The Kafir was a savage, pure and simple . . . .   n64


Why the Kafirs qualified as greater “savages” than the Afghanis is not a question the good Colonel addresses. He could have saved his “scientific” pity for the Kafirs, though, because the Amir’s armies were not to succeed in wiping out paganism in the Hindukush — for despite his threat to break off negotiations over the boundary demarcation unless he had “the whole of Kafiristan to its last house,”   n65 one group of Kafirs, the Kalash, were ensconced safely in valleys on the British side of the Durand Line.

How did the Kalash come into a position of safety? Prior to the 10th century, the Kalash were merely one of the many Kafir tribes, jostling for supremacy, caught in the perennial Afghan struggle for tribal power. Little is known about where the Kalash actually lived. Kalash mythology centers around a city by the name of Tsiam, but this city has yet to be identified conclusively.   n66 In the struggle for survival, the Kalash emerged at the bottom of the pecking order, and at some point around the 10th or 11th century, “they were pushed northwards into Chitral by the Bashgali Kafirs, who in their turn had been forced to leave their own valleys by other strange tribes from the West.”   n67 Driven out of their original homeland, the Kalash sought refuge in the network of secondary  [*684]  valleys on the border with Chitral and even managed briefly to capture the city of Chitral.   n68 This state of affairs was not to last for long though:


Regrouped under the banner of Islam[,] . . . the Kho routed the Kalash and drove them out of Chitral, relegating any who remained, but who refused conversion, to the three valleys of Birir, Bumburet and Rumbur. There the fugitives joined other Kalash, themselves only recently arrived. In their weakened state they lost their independence, pledged allegiance to the king of Chitral, paid taxes in kind and in coin and submitted to forced labour.   n69


In the valleys where they were now confined, the Kalash in turn subjugated the indigenous people who had been living there.   n70 No trace of these people — called “Balalik” in Kalash folklore — has survived, though it is not known whether that is due to their extermination or gradual incorporation.   n71 In the meantime, though, the Kalash were allowed to keep their paganism despite a Muslim overlord because under Islamic law, the only people who may be enslaved are either those who are born into slavery or non-Muslims,   n72 and in this way the Chitralis ensured themselves a steady supply of slave labor.   n73 The Kalash valleys were therefore “set aside as personal preserve and property of the Mehtars [the local rulers of Chitral] who protected the Kalash against jealous mullahs and landgreedy nobles . . . .”   n74 In return for this protection, the Kalash had to pay special taxes and perform labor, particularly household work (a tradition which was still active as late as 1963   n75 and formally abolished only in 1972).   n76

Since the other independent Kafir tribes saw no reason not to raid their helpless coreligionists, the Kalash were caught in a very tough position: “on the one hand the Kafirs, . . . stock-raiders and collectors of murderous exploits for the sake of glory; on the other hand the Chitrali, who held them to ransom and drained them economically through servitude.”   n77 Given the importance attached to independence in Afghani culture, it is no surprise that the Kalash were looked down upon by the other Kafir tribes — so much so that when Robertson passed through their valleys in 1890 he described them as  [*685]  “not the true independent Kafirs of the Hindu-Kush, but an idolatrous tribe of slaves subject to the Mehtar of Chitral, and living within his borders.”   n78

Subservient the Kalash may well have been, but ironically, it was this very lack of independence that was to protect their identity. Since the Amir’s forces could not cross the Durand Line, and since the Kalash were subjects of the Mehtar of Chitral, Abdur Rahman had to content himself with the forcible conversion of merely the vast majority of the Kafirs. However, when fleeing Kafirs sought to join the safety of the Kalash, Abdur Rahman was quick to act, writing to the Viceroy to ask that the road of escape to Chitral be strictly closed, “so that not a single Kafir may go there, but that they may remain in peace and quiet in their own native places.”   n79 The Amir’s fears of British interference were baseless though because the British representative in Chitral had already been urging the Mehtar to expel refugee Kafirs.   n80 Eventually, the Foreign Office permitted refugees already arrived to stay but decided to prevent other refugees from entering. Thus, only 1600 Kafirs managed to find shelter in the Kalash valleys.   n81

By the end of 1896, the rest of Kafiristan had been completely subjugated. Though the Amir publicly claimed that Kafirs were not being forcibly converted to Islam,   n82 the truth was different and the British were well aware of it. One report notes that “the Amir has forbidden the killing of Kafir children under seven years of age, but no Kafir above that age will be shown any mercy unless he agrees to embrace the Muhammadan religion.”   n83 However, as Kakar notes, “Large scale conversion was attempted after Kafiristan was overrun, but in a society that was still basically Kafir, it proved difficult.”   n84 Abdur Rahman’s solution was to send in armed mullahs, but the mullahs themselves had to be protected, not only because some Kafirs continued to be attached to their idols, but because unfortunately the mullahs often took Kafir women, including some who were already married, for their own use.   n85 However, despite the occasional massacre of mullahs, as in 1901 when twenty were killed in a single night,   n86 “persuasion accompanied by occasional intimidation remained the official policy with regard to the conversion.”   n87 Kakar concludes that the policy largely succeeded though “the complete replacement of the Kafir religion by Islam was still to be a matter of the future.”   n88 For example, in early  [*686]  1901 several Kafir elders offered sacrifices at their shrines following the rumored death of Amir Abdur Rahman.   n89 One can hardly blame them.   n90

The Kalash, in the meantime, remained as they had for the past five centuries in their condition of semislavery to the Mehtar of Chitral. Because Chitral was one of India’s many princely states, the British played only an advisory role in its administration. Nor did any of this change when the British left the subcontinent in 1947. Chitral became part of the newly independent state of Pakistan, but in effect the only visible difference was that a Pakistani civil servant replaced the British political agent in Chitral. As an autonomous princely state, the government’s writ theoretically did not affect Chitral. In practice, though, the political agent also doubled as the Prime Minister of Chitral, so the arrangement was in many ways only a proxy for government rule. Eventually, the Pakistani government tired of this arrangement, and in 1969 Chitral ceased to be a tribal agency and was converted into a “district administered by a Deputy Commissioner.”   n91 In 1972, the title, privileges, and privy purse of the Mehtar were abolished,   n92 with slavery and unpaid labor outlawed.   n93 The Kalash were now citizens of Pakistan, theoretically on par with all other citizens, and entitled under the Pakistani Constitution to the most enlightened set of rights.   n94

  1. The Kalash Today

According to the most recent (1988) survey of the Kalash valleys, their total population was approximately 6200, of which about 2500 were counted as Kalash and 3700 as Muslim.   n95 Of the Muslim population of 3700, 1030 were descendants of Kafir refugees who had fled Kafiristan in 1896, while the number of Kalash converts was 1193. Of the remaining number, 474 were descended from the original Muslim residents of the valleys, while the final 1020 had immigrated to the valleys from outside areas.   n96 Since previous censuses of the North West Frontier Province do not include any detailed estimates of the Kalash, it is difficult to tell how the population of the Kalash has fluctuated over time, though it may be noted that in 1956 a Danish ethnographer estimated the number of Kalash Kafirs at approximately 3000,   n97 a figure which has been corroborated by other scholars.   n98

[*687]  1. Kalash Society and Its Environment

The Kalash valleys of Bumburet, Birir, and Rumbur are all narrow valleys at altitudes between 4875 and 7800 feet.   n99 Bumburet is approximately twelve miles long; the other valleys are somewhat shorter and narrower. The soil in the valleys is “mixed with stones and boulders; low in clay content and, due to extreme dryness, very low in organic matter and nitrogen; and low to adequate in phosphorus and potassium. They have a low waterholding capacity and are highly susceptible to leaching when irrigated.”   n100 Precipitation is low at the lower altitudes, rarely exceeding 200 millimeters a year, but there is considerable snowfall at the higher altitudes. Though neither land nor water is scarce per se, “the real scarcity is of flat land with access to dependable water supply and in close proximity to the settlement (village).”   n101

“The farming systems can be described as arable crops mixed with (fruit and forest) trees and livestock.”   n102 These systems are interdependent in that “animals are needed for manure to improve crop yields and provide power to plow [while] livestock in turn depend on fodder and straw from crops in the harsh winter months.”   n103 Similarly, “the highest altitudes provide snow and ice for irrigation; the intermediate altitudes provide pastures for animals and timber for fuel; and the lowest altitudes provide sites for human settlements and cultivation of crops with a growing season long enough for crops to reach maturity.”   n104 Because the land can only support one crop a year,   n105 the Kalash are increasingly dependent on livestock. This creates “heavy demands on forage from trees, shrubs, and grasses that are highly seasonal.”   n106 The final result is that “the pasture and forest economy — and with it the fragile environment — is being threatened by overgrazing and overharvesting, reflecting poor management of common property and the increasing pressure of population without investment in conservation and plantation.”   n107 Thus, “like the other inhabitants of the hilly terrain of the northern areas, people of [the Kalash] valleys also happen to be barely subsistence agriculturists.”   n108

While such acute scarcity of resources might be expected to result in radical inequalities in the distribution of resources, there is generally “a high degree of economic homogeneity”   n109 helped in part by “a visible sense of reciprocity . . . [which] developed in response to the need to accommodate a hostile physical environment in the mountains.”   n110 In addition, the Kalash avoid gross inequalities of wealth by emphasizing the need for feasting in order to gain prestige. As one author notes, “From childbirth to death, every occasion is a demand for feast.”   n111 Loude and Lievre elaborate on what they refer to as a “society of competitive feasting”:   n112

[*688]  If we consider the marriage rules, the funeral traditions, the feastgiving competitions, [and] the numerous religious ceremonies throughout the year, we may assert that the whole Kalash culture is based on an excessive production of wealth (cattle breeding and agriculture) in order to distribute the surplus among the people to please the supernatural beings and to strengthen the social structure.

. . . .

. . . The purpose of any Kalash man is to spend and to spread his wealth among his community in order to return the glory and reputation that will follow him after death.   n113


The Kalash religion is in considerable flux today as it struggles to deal with the intellectual challenge of a surging Islam. There is considerable dissension even among the Kalash as to what the contours of their religion are; any attempt to delineate those contours is bound to be ambiguous.   n114 A modern form of the proto-Aryan Vedic pantheon,   n115 the Kalash religion includes a creator god, Dezau (akin to the Indo-Aryan Zeus)   n116 and below him a number of divinities associated with particular areas, each celebrated and honored through particular rituals.   n117 The Kalash also worship spirits, fairies, demons, and the souls of deceased ancestors.   n118 The Kalash see their entire physical environment as not just inanimate matter, but rather permeated with these spirits. There are gods associated with human fertility, the protection and fecundity of goats, the protection of livestock, the protection of the population, the protection of the family and the home, and the prosperity and fertility of the fields, while the fairies are the guardians of the wild sheep and ibex and govern the success of hunters.   n119 Worship of these divinities is both individual and communal, and the Kalash calendar is demarcated by a series of feasts at which the Kalash consecrate various gods.   n120

Access to the divinities is open to individuals, but the Kalash have shamans, known as dehar, who translate and transmit the desires of the divinities to the population. The shamans are central to the persistence of Kalash culture:


The institution formed by successive intermediaries has always held a central position in the elaboration, evolution and resistance of the Kalash’s symbolic system. . . . From generation to generation, the Kalash shamans, dehar, have been serving their society, doing the duties expected of them. They have guided their community from its original country, Tsyam, to the present Nuristan and thence to the Chitral area. They have justified successive and forced Kalash migrations through god’s orders. They have revealed the benevolent pressure of unknown gods or settled old divinities on the new subdued lands. They knew how to make “real” the chosen places of settlement, giving  [*689]  them meaning within an organization based on the opposition between purity and impurity, men and women, up and down. They have laid down the rules for seasonal feasts, arranged essential and joyful meetings between gods, spirits, ancestors and living beings.   n121


Marked by an obsessive division between pure and impure, the religion enables the Kalash to see themselves as pure and outsiders as impure, which in turn leads them to shun contact.

This purity/impurity dichotomy also has important gender consequences and lies at the root of the generally inferior position of Kalash women. In 1890, Robertson remarked that “Kafir women are practically household slaves.”   n122 While matters have improved, only men are allowed to take part in such activities as animal husbandry and hunting; women are relegated to such activities as cooking, cleaning, and other household functions.   n123 What differentiates this occupational dichotomy from similar patterns in northern Pakistan is that the exclusion of Kalash women is tied into the purity/impurity division:


This cultural inequality derives from the sexual prejudice inherent within this patriarchal society. As in many other communities, the pretext is a woman’s natural biological specificity[,] i.e. the blood of menstruation and parturition. These manifestations are treated as permanently impure and temporarily extremely impure during their periods and childbirth.   n124


The result of this ritual phobia is that all Kalash women are confined to houses of seclusion, called “bashali” or “bashalini,” and isolated from the villages during menstruation and following childbirth   n125 for as little as twenty-one days to as long as three months depending on the valley.   n126 Aside from their temporary exclusion from the community, the “permanent impurity attached to women”   n127 provides the theoretical underpinnings for their systematic marginalization. Thus women may not be hunters or livestock herders because “in this pastoral society of transhumant goat husbandry, men are related to the pure world of the mountains and their products.”   n128 Women “are not allowed to approach or enter the altars of the Kalash pantheon’s deities located in the upper reaches valley”   n129 since those altars are “pure” and would be contaminated by the presence of women. They also “do not take part in general worship where men offer animal or vegetable gifts to the gods, [or] pray and eat the male-goat meat at the alter itself.”   n130 The impurity of women also excludes them from being shamans and holding any positions of social importance.   n131 Consequently, the Kalash religion is “mainly a  [*690]  masculine cult of communication with the divinities wherein the religious practitioners are exclusively male.”   n132

The only scholar to have studied the condition of Kalash women also notes that Kalash folklore contains several myths categorized as “primordial fault of a woman,”   n133 that are “essential to the ideology of the rules elaborated by successive shamans.”   n134 However, she concludes that “the idea of women’s culpability is not original to the Kalash tradition but borrowed from their Islamic neighbors.”   n135 However, this thesis has several problems. First, Kalash contact with Christians was nonexistent until 1890 and has been minimal ever since. Of course, centuries of antagonistic cohabitation with Muslim neighbors has affected the Kalash and the Kafirs. However, the Koranic retelling of the expulsion from paradise differs from the Biblical version in that the Koran does not affix the blame for eating the forbidden fruit solely upon Eve, but upon both Adam and Eve. As such, while there may be considerable institutional hostility towards women in Islam and the Sharia, certainly the expulsion from paradise is not a basis for that hostility. I would submit that Lievre may be scapegoating the Muslims for what are patriarchal tendencies common to all peoples in the area. Certainly, their paganism does not mean the Kalash are any less capable of sexual chauvinism.   n136 A better explanation is simply that the Kalash, like the other tribes of Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan, are intensely patriarchal. One might note that both the Kalash and the Muslims in the valleys are extremely reluctant to educate female children   n137 and that physical abuse of women is common to both groups.   n138 Further, the Kalash (in contrast to the Muslims) do not recognize any rights of inheritance for women.   n139

[*691]  This Article does not intend to judge Kalash culture; rather, it merely notes how it relates to other cultures. As such, the only point to be noted from the preceding discussion is that women in Kalash society are inferior in terms of social privileges and responsibilities. This inferiority is reinforced by, and indeed an integral part of, a religious system which characterizes women as permanently impure. But the Kalash religion is not uniformly hostile to women. For example, the Kalash do not display any of the obsession with female virginity that so marks Muslim society in Pakistan, and women are accepted as having the authority not only to initiate marriages but also to dissolve them. In fact, several authors have noted that the Kalash attitude towards extramarital affairs is considerably more relaxed than those of their Muslim neighbors, and that elopements are quite common.   n140 Ironically, this comparative sexual liberation of Kalash women accounts for the biggest problems the Kalash face today.

There is a persistent myth among young Pakistani men regarding the promiscuity of Kalash women, and every summer hordes of oversexed youths can be found in the valleys, ogling the women and in many cases proceeding to more physical sexual harassment, including rape.   n141 While the incidence of rape in Pakistan is tragically high in all areas, the persistence of incidents in the Kalash valleys also has much to do with a complete confusion of cultural messages. In Pakistani culture generally, dancing is an activity which is associated with prostitution. In addition, women face a great deal of societal pressure to veil themselves; women who do not veil themselves in public are stigmatized as promiscuous. Finally, because the Kalash valleys are among the few places in Pakistan where wine is consumed openly, many Pakistanis perceive the area as a sensual paradise where anything goes.   n142 The fact that “the dances are in no way lascivious and the Kalash ‘wine’ is virtually undrinkable does not deter entertainment-starved Punjabis.”   n143

Though lecherous tourists represent the most aggressively undesirable aspects of tourism, there are more subtle issues at work as well. For example, the influx of tourists has led to a large number of Kalash women willing to pose for photographs and perform ceremonial dances in return for payment.   n144 Given that the dancing ceremonies possess  [*692]  deep religious significance, the Kalash have banned it, reviling it as a “form of prostitution”   n145 and the equivalent of “going to the zoo.”   n146 While dancing is quite often the only source of income for Kalash women,   n147 the commercialization of the Kalash culture is difficult to justify even in economic terms:


The tourist who visits the valleys, quite obviously, comes to see the Kalash and their living. However, it is the non-Kalash who prosper economically because they own almost all the hotels that the tourists live and eat in; they alone own the jeeps the tourists travel by and they alone own the small grocery shops in the area. The Kalash are too poor and too subdued to profit even in a field which should strictly be theirs.   n148


The exclusion of the Kalash from the economic benefits of the tourist trade has another side effect: the influx of Muslim entrepreneurs and adventurers also increases the influence of Islam in the valleys. The clash between Islam and the Kalash is, in itself, not a new phenomenon, but as noted earlier, the Kalash used to be protected by the Mehtar of Chitral and their own obscurity.   n149 Moreover, those Kalash who converted to Islam tended to be naturally tolerant of their pagan neighbors, and respectful of their traditions. Thus, while distinct trends in the Kalash religion show the impact of Islam,   n150 by and large the Kalash were able to protect their distinct identity. The tourist boom, however, has led to the influx of large numbers of more militant Muslims who do not wish merely to live and let live. Older Muslim residents and converts to Islam were not only related by blood to the Kalash but tolerant to the extent that they even participated in their rituals. The distinct identity of the valleys was thus continued because “these Muslims had still much more in common with their Kalash compatriots than with adventurers from outside.”   n151

Islamic pressure on the Kalash is now overt and blatant. Not only are the Kalash bombarded with exhortations to convert broadcast from loudspeakers attached to the minarets of mosques, but even local schoolteachers often join up with missionaries to  [*693]  pressure Kalash schoolchildren   n152 by constantly referring to the Kalash religion in degrading and demeaning terms. In one case, a teacher even refused to promote Kalash students from one grade to the next unless they converted.   n153 The end result is a staggering discrepancy between the numbers of Kalash and Muslim children attending school. In 1988, there were a total of 646 Muslim students as compared to 77 Kalash students.   n154 The dynamics of this problem are such that it perpetuates itself:


The Kalash children being in a minority in the school are discriminated against by the other children who are accustomed to their elders discriminating against the Kalash. Since the Kalash are poor and discriminated against they don’t go to school and since they are not educated they remain economically and socially backward resulting in the prevalent prejudices against them.   n155


Apart from problems inherent in trying to survive as the sole representatives of a beleaguered culture, the Kalash are also enticed to convert by economic incentives and other bribes.   n156 Deeply in debt to Muslim moneylenders, many Kalash men are quite often in great need of money. However, if a Kalash man converts, he is usually given cash (presumably in celebration) by his new brethren — often a substantial amount — which some of the new converts use to reacquire their mortgaged property.   n157 As for the women,


married Kalash women are encouraged to leave their husbands and children, convert to Islam and then marry Muslims. These women are an easy target especially because the new Muslim husbands are wealthier than the Kalash and can ensure the women a more secure and easy life. There is a tradition amongst the Kalash that when a man marries another person’s wife, he pays the ex-husband twice what he (the exhusband) paid at the time of his marriage. . . . However when the Kalash girl converts and marries a Muslim, the latter is under no obligation to pay anything to the former husband . . . .   n158


[*694]  According to Pakistani law, a woman’s conversion to Islam automatically annuls her marriage.   n159 It should be noted that despite all of these indirect pressures, there was until very recently almost no record of any violent abuse of the Kalash’s rights. Pakistan, however, is far less tolerant now, and what may be a forerunner of coming events happened in 1993 when “the effigies for celebration of the Joshi festival and the ritual of their pledging their continuing loyalty to Suchis, the spirits of the mountains, were all hacked to pieces by ardent Muslims on a self-appointed mission to eliminate idolatry.”   n160 There are also reports of forced conversions.   n161

Despite the many religious and social pressures, the Kalash argue that “if any official assistance is to be given, the Kalash would point to economical (sic) improvement as the only way to religious freedom.”   n162 The single biggest economic issue facing the Kalash is that many of them had been enticed or coerced into selling their lands and walnut trees, often for ludicrously low prices. Records of such transactions show instances where Kalash had bartered away a canal of land, or a cluster of fruit trees, for as little as a cotton shirt or a woolen hat.   n163 In numerous instances, outsiders took advantage of illiterate Kalash landowners by preparing fraudulent documents of mortgage or sale and then tricking them into stamping their fingerprint on it.   n164 A number of these transactions have been challenged in court, but the decisions have not been to vacate the deeds, but to allow the land to be redeemed at the current market price.   n165 Since these prices are often prohibitive, “those who used to own the land are now working as wage-labourers on the same land for the absentee landlords or the trading money lenders.”   n166

This restriction of economic opportunities is further exacerbated because Muslims own nearly all private institutions and refuse to hire Kalash, a prejudice which carries over into the public sector where the Kalash are not considered even for the most minor and unskilled positions.   n167 In 1986, out of a total of 108 government jobs in the Kalash Valleys, only 20 were filled by Kalash.   n168

[*695]  One final source of economic pressure on the Kalash is the rapidly increasing rate of deforestation in the valleys. Unlike most areas in Pakistan where deforestation is due largely to population pressures, deforestation in the Kalash valleys has more to do with the cutting of trees by outsiders for lumbering. Deforestation not only has severe economic consequences, but the lack of forest cover also reduces water retention and increases soil runoff and erosion, which in turn lead to flooding:   n169

If no steps are taken, the valley of Birir will be destroyed within the next few years. Geologically, this Kalash Valley is very narrow with eroded soil raising the riverbed. As Birir river rises, it has begun cutting into the sides of the mountain — perched on its banks is Guru village, the largest in the valley, and its very foundations are being eroded.   n170


  1. The Structure of Kalash Representation

Since the Kalash constitute only a few thousand people in an overwhelmingly Muslim nation of 120 million, one would have expected their interests to have been consistently ignored. Fortunately, this is not the case. The Pakistani government has taken steps to help the Kalash; however, the adequacy of those steps is a separate issue. As a starting point, one may note that in the case of the Kalash at least, the many institutional provisions in both the executive and legislative branches have not been entirely useless.   n171

Besides the Federal Ministry of Religious Affairs and Minority Affairs, there is also a Federal Advisory Council for Minorities Affairs. This council, which includes all the elected minority representatives in the national and provincial assemblies as well as other prominent members of minority groups, is entrusted with making recommendations on policy issues as well as other specific matters. At a lower level, Minority Committees for each district include representatives of local minorities, the government authority in charge of minority issues, and the chief administrator of that district. Finally, under the Local Bodies system of government, there are reservations for minorities at every administrative level from the District Council down to town committees. Minority groups may elect representatives to each of these bodies in order to protect their interests in education, health care, and also infrastructure items such as roads and irrigation channels.   n172

The federal government’s monetary contributions have also been significant. In 1974, the government set up a Pakistan Minorities Welfare Fund with an initial endowment of two million Rupees, which in 1982 was increased to seven million Rupees. Ever since, regular disbursements have been made through the Member of the National Assembly who represents the Kalash. Notable initiatives by the government include a stipend to several Kalash azis (priests), the construction and repair of cultural and community  [*696]  centers, the construction and improvement of Bashalinis and irrigation channels,   n173 as well as the construction and repair of bridges, flood protection barriers, and community halls.   n174

More importantly, the government has authorized loans on extremely generous terms to the Kalash so that they may redeem their mortgaged trees and fields from outside parties.   n175 The government has also moved on the legal front. Apart from allowing the Kalash to redeem their mortgaged lands, a standing executive order now forbids the purchase of land or any new construction by people from outside the valleys.   n176 Laws also forbid the forcible conversion of any Kalash   n177 and ban the cutting of trees by outsiders.   n178 In response to complaints about abuse by school teachers, exclusively Kalash schools have been opened, at least at the primary level.   n179 At least one secondary school for boys had been constructed and one for girls was being planned.   n180 Further, a team of French anthropologists has been working on school books for the Kalash to provide the Kalash with a positive view of their culture.   n181

  1. Conclusion

Despite the government’s initiative and decisions, the position of the Kalash remains precarious. First of all, as in many Third World countries, the “legal rights of such relatively isolated, weak and poor individuals and groups . . . mean much less in practice than they seem to promise.”   n182 So while the Kalash theoretically enjoy political representation, this hardly guarantees that their interests will actually be protected. As one author notes, the interests of Kalash representatives, “like those of men of property and business everywhere, are self-centred [sic]. They have shown little inclination to organise their vulnerable community . . . to resist the onslaughts from outside.”   n183

The Kalash have been lucky in that at least for part of the past decade, the most important civil servants in the area have been dedicated professionals who have taken a sincere interest in their advancement. However, the administrative structure in Pakistan remains heavily subordinate to political interests, with predictable results. Thus, while there is a complete ban on logging in the Kalash forests, “corruption . . . has succeeded in breaking the ban — unless the North West Frontier government strictly enforces this order wood will continue to be exported from Chitral.”   n184 A recent conference concerning environmental conditions in the Kalash valleys noted that “control of timber extraction by the Pakistan Forestry Commission is seriously hampered by repeated ‘special permits’ authorized by central government authorities, escalating at an alarming rate over the past  [*697]  two years.”   n185 There was “an urgent need for immediate control and limitation of current timber extraction if forest resources are to be maintained as a source of profitable industry, and if the serious local effects of deforestation are to be averted.”   n186

Nor has the tree repurchase program been a success. While the original concept was that the proceeds of the loan recovery would be recirculated to the Kalash,   n187 so far the plan has stalled because the owners of the trees have refused to sell at anything less than prohibitive rates, certain owners have used violence,   n188 the Kalash have almost completely failed to repay loans,   n189 and many Kalash have used the loan proceeds for purposes other than buying back the land, such as spending on feasts and consumer goods:

Many of the farmers who have taken such loans have not used the money for the intended purpose. The money has been spent to meet expenses of death and marriage rituals. Some have constructed houses. Another popular use of the loan money among young Kalash is to buy new clothes, shoes and cassette players.   n190


In the meantime, the trickle of religious conversions continues to break down the Kalash community. Part of the reason for the devastating impact of conversion is that the new Muslims normally forsake their old communities. Thus, the converts no longer live with their old families, a break which is then accentuated when they marry other Muslims. The establishment of a separate family also means that ancestral lands need to be divided so that the convert can construct a separate house for his new family.   n191

Predictions of the imminent demise of the Kalash have often proved to be overstated, but certainly the prospects are not good. The combination of economic, social, and religious factors means that the Kalash are facing a much more formidable threat than they have ever faced before. The Pakistani government measures have so far not been significantly effective. The question then arises: Do the Kalash deserve to be saved? In a world of limited governmental and administrative resources, do the Kalash deserve to be given preferential economic treatment? In the following section, I intend to show that neither international law in general nor the norm of indigenous rights in particular, as presently conceptualized, provides an answer. And if such an answer is to be found, one must first locate within international law a basis for arguing that the preservation of a collective identity is a right as inherent and precious to all peoples as the right to life is for all individuals.


  1. The Rights of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples (1500-1947)
  2. The Law of Nations and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The appearance of indigenous peoples as a subject of international law can be traced back, as one might expect, to the discovery of the New World by Spanish adventurers. Early publicists therefore dealt largely with the issue of whether Spanish subjugation of the Indians could be legitimated under the then-existing structure of accepted practices between nations. More precisely, were the Indians a sovereign people and entitled to the respect due to such entities in international law, or was conquest and colonization of their lands justifiable?

Given the great number of apologists for imperialism, of particular interest is Francisco de Vitoria, the theologian who challenged Spanish claims to Indian lands based on his understanding of natural and divine law.   n192 He argued that the Indians were the true owners of their lands and that their subjugation could not be justified in terms of papal authority. To him, “discovery” of the Indians was not sufficient to confer title upon the Spaniards. “[Discovery] in and by itself . . . gives no support to a seizure of the aborigines any more than if it had been they who had discovered us.”   n193 De Vitoria was only the first to deny the prevalent argument that mere occupation conferred title over inhabited lands. Later, Blackstone recognized occupation only with respect to deserts or uncultivated land   n194 while Grotius used natural-law-based arguments to debunk Portugal’s claims to the East Indies.   n195

With the development of positivism in the 19th century, however, international law gradually came to be understood as operating not on a normative level above states, but rather as being defined by the actual practice between states.   n196 As European colonialism grew ever more rapacious, the need to provide some figleaf for expansionism dissipated; instead, colonial expansion was often justified in very simple terms of racial superiority.   n197 By the early 20th century, the theory that indigenous peoples had no status  [*699]  or rights in international law prevailed.   n198 Even decisions now thought to be quite progressive for their time, such as those of the Cayuga Indians tribunal, presumed that a “tribe is not a legal unit of international law.”   n199 Others simply defended the lack of rights awarded to indigenous peoples as a consequence of the “European” nature of international law.   n200

The point is that indigenous peoples were of more than fleeting concern not because publicists sought to mandate minimum standards to protect them from the massive violation of their rights, but because European domination needed to be reconciled with the prevalent international law regime. However, whatever the difference among scholars, the overall result was a conception of international law that provided no obstacle to imperialist ambitions:

With tribal peoples deemed incapable of enjoying status or rights in international law, international law was able to supply the rules governing the patterns of colonialization and ultimately to legitimate the colonial order, without any consequences arising from the existence of aboriginal peoples. For international law purposes, indigenous lands prior to any colonial presence were considered legally unoccupied and accordingly cloaked in the legal jargon of terra nullius (vacant lands). Under this fiction, discovery could be employed as a means of upholding colonial claims to indigenous lands and bypassing any claim to possession by the natives in the “discovered” lands. . . . There was no longer any need to pretend conquest where war had not been waged, or to rely on the rules of war where it had.   n201


[*700]  2. International Law and the Rights of Minorities

In contrast to the rigorous denial of rights to indigenous people, the treatment of minorities was often a more genuine issue in the years preceding World War II. International interest in the protection of minorities is, in fact, often traced back to the treaty of Westphalia in 1648   n202 and sometimes even earlier. Capotorti, for example, cites the Treaty of Vienna in 1606, whereby the King of Hungary and the Prince of Transylvania guaranteed religious freedom to the Protestant minority in Transylvania.   n203 Other prominent instances include the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the 1876 Treaty of Berlin, which included protection for the “traditional rights and liberties” enjoyed by the religious community of Mt. Athos in Greece, and the 1881 Convention for the Settlement of the Frontier between Greece and Turkey.   n204 However,


such agreements [can] just as easily be seen as recognizing the power of certain political groups rather than religious rights per se. Religion was certainly the most significant distinction among most groups until at least the eighteenth century, and most of the early provisions for the protection of minorities were concerned with what today might be viewed as freedom of religion rather than group rights.   n205


While the “wilderness of single instances,”   n206 in which states had chosen to protect the particular rights of minorities using treaties, never quite merged into a comprehensive scheme, it did eventually lead to the “minority treaties” at the end of World War I; these still represent “the most conscious and comprehensive attempt to protect ethnic and other minorities through international legal means.”   n207

As might be expected, the League of Nations minority treaties were not really very different in either spirit or legal methodology from earlier efforts to protect minorities. The aim of the treaties was “to protect the identity of peoples or nations, in the way that the law of self-determination or decolonization would later seek to do. In other contexts, they were more concerned with the religious, cultural, or linguistic rights of groups which were minorities even within the territory they inhabited.”   n208 The minority treaties thus evidence the first international recognition of the right of all peoples to self-determination.

[*701]  3. Conclusion

International law regarding minorities and indigenous peoples in this period focused almost exclusively on the issues of sovereignty and self-determination. However, while indigenous peoples were denied any right to self-determination and, indeed, denied even any status as a “unit of international law,” there was a long and vibrant history of European powers recognizing precisely such concerns amongst themselves by way of bilateral treaties granting autonomy and/or other special treatment privileges to distinct groups.

It may be an oversimplification to blame this dichotomy entirely on racism, but


it was primarily in the European arena that concepts of minority rights and nationalism developed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The colonial empires were notorious for ignoring ethnic, linguistic, or other “national” considerations, leaving such complexities to be dealt with by the independent states that emerged from decolonization. While African and Asian nations or ethnic groups may often have been set against one another by colonial powers, there seems to have been no concern for the protection of “minorities” — unless it was the consolidation and protection of the privileges of the white colonist.   n209


One may still argue that, despite its faults, the League of Nations system for the protection of minorities should still be hailed for having incorporated the principle of special treatment for minorities into international law. However, the consensus among scholars is that the minority treaties did not create customary international law:


There is evidence on the limited scope of the League system of treaties in its practice and intentions. As noted, the League system was political and humanitarian in its purposes. The States were effectively obliged to participate in it as a result of wartime defeat, or as a condition of receiving additions of territory or recognition of their independence. There was no intent to establish a universally applicable minorities system, least of all one applicable to the Powers.   n210


This has led at least one scholar to conclude that “the post-war world started, as it were, with a tabula rasa in the matter of tolerance and encouragement of minorities”   n211 so that, unless restrained by a particular treaty, “states could act as they pleased in relation to their populations.”   n212

  1. The Rights of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples (1947-1994)
  2. The Human Rights Revolution

The establishment of the United Nations and the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights led to a sea change in the international community’s approach to the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples. From a broad perspective, the most obvious difference was that the positivist view of international law as practices governing relationships between nations gave way to a new vision of universally  [*702]  applicable rights and privileges. While the normative dimension was restored to international law, the dichotomy between the rights of the individual and the rights of the state remained. Thus, the new constitutive documents of the post-World War II international regime (the United Nations (“U.N.”) Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) operated almost entirely on the assumption that rights were to be conferred “on individuals as individuals, rather than as members of groups.”   n213

Indeed, the individualist focus of the postwar international regime was the product of a very deliberate choice. As several scholars have noted, provisions relating to the rights of minorities were rejected during the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For example, the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities submitted the following article:


In States inhabited by well defined ethnic, linguistic or religious groups which are clearly distinguished from the rest of the population and which want to be accorded differential treatment, persons belonging to such groups shall have the right as far as is compatible with public order and security to establish and maintain their schools and cultural or religious institutions, and to use their own language and script in the press, in public assembly, and before the courts and other authorities of the States, if they so choose.   n214


This half-hearted provision to protect minorities’ rights was excluded from the draft declaration sent to the General Assembly.   n215 Later, when the Third Committee of the General Assembly examined the draft, articles regarding minorities’ rights were proposed by Denmark, Yugoslavia, and the USSR but were similarly rejected.   n216 Instead, the declaration was adopted without any such article, and the matter was referred back to the Sub-Commission for further investigation.   n217

The international community had not completely forgotten about minorities or indigenous peoples. However, the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples were seen as issues of sovereignty and political power thought to be resolved by the prominence given in the United Nations Covenants on Human Rights to the resolution that “all peoples have the right of self-determination.”   n218 Hurst Hannum explains:


Instead of adopting the League of Nations approach of attempting to resolve the territorial-political problems posed by the existence of minority groups within a state[,] . . . the drafters of the United Nations Charter seemed to assume: 1) that European and other minorities would be satisfied if their individual rights, particularly those of equality and nondiscrimination, were respected; and 2) that reference to the principle of self-determination would be adequate to resolve the problem of colonialism.   n219


In other words, the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights meant that the focus of the international community was upon a minimum level of human rights that would, at least theoretically, be available to all people, irrespective of color, creed, race, or sect. But by providing for human rights for everyone, “the effort to create equality  [*703]  between minorities and majorities . . . lost much of its purpose . . . .”   n220 Andras Baka points out:


It is, on the whole, generally accurate that compared with the League of Nations system the United Nations’ complex human rights system “considerably enlarges the scope of individual rights, including the negative rights of minorities[, b]ut in the insistence on equal rather than exceptional rights for minorities, the United Nations system represents a substantial reduction in international commitment to minority rights.”   n221


Moreover, the distinction between minority rights and self-determination was increasingly suppressed after 1945 so that while the international community began to recognize the rights of all peoples under colonial rule to self-determination, “minorities guarantees were regarded with great suspicion, and the principle of minority rights, to the extent that it found expression at all, was regarded as a consequence of individual rights rather than of the rights of particular communities or groups.”   n222 As a result of this move away from minority rights, the United Nations has scarcely dealt at any level with the question for more than forty years.   n223

The only exception to this general indifference is the right to self-determination, a right not only enshrined in the United Nations Charter, but one that can genuinely be described as customary international law. In the orthodox sense, self-determination means the right of a people to have an independent and sovereign state of their own.   n224 Since the principle of self-determination without any limits points only to an endless process of subdividing states, international law includes the equally authoritative principle that the territorial integrity of established states must never be compromised. This contradictory situation of two legal principles with equal and opposite effects has produced two schools of thought.

The first tries to resolve this impasse by differentiating the peoples who deserve self-determination from those who do not.   n225 The second one, to which most indigenous rights theorists adhere, argues that self-determination does not necessarily require all the attributes of a sovereign state, but may be satisfied by more limited forms of autonomy.   n226 Neither of these — as will be explored more fully later — is particularly useful in the context of the Kalash. It is neither desirable nor feasible for the Kalash to have their own state; moreover, the Kalash are such a tiny minority that not even a limited form of political autonomy would be feasible.

[*704]  2. Developments in Minority Rights Since 1947

Two major multilateral documents dealing with the rights of minorities have emerged since 1947. The first, the Genocide Convention of 1947, is not limited to minorities. It delineates collective rights of peoples which apply to minorities. For the Genocide Convention to be called into effect, there must be an affirmative showing of “intent” by a party to exterminate, in whole or in part, a particular people.   n227 Because the Pakistani Government is not actively trying to exterminate the Kalash, and because the Kalash are in no danger of physical extinction (as compared to cultural extinction), the Genocide Convention offers them no protection. Thus, that document is not applicable to this Article’s search for a rationale that justifies the preferential treatment of indigenous groups.

The second document is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”), or more precisely, Article 27 therein, the only exception   n228 to the international community’s general hostility towards recognizing a collective right of minorities to distinct treatment.   n229 As Thornberry points out, this article is not just “the only expression of the right to an identity in modern human rights conventions intended for universal application,” but also “the first real attempt in the history of international law to provide such a universal right.”   n230 Article 27 reads as follows:


In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language.   n231


While this provision appears directly applicable to the Kalash, several preliminary issues must be addressed. First, Pakistan is not a signatory to the ICCPR, and therefore can be judged against the standards in the ICCPR only if those standards can be considered part of customary international law. Second, even if we assume, arguendo, that Article 27 is customary international law, the clear language of Article 27 only obligates states to refrain from activities or actions which would have a negative impact on the cultural or religious identity of minority populations. Article 27 does not, at least on its surface, provide a basis for arguing that states are obligated to take positive measures to prevent the identity and cultures of minorities (including indigenous peoples) from being attacked or eroded by external forces.

[*705]  3. The Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Postwar International Human Rights Regime

The United Nations first formally dealt with indigenous populations through General Assembly Resolution 275 (III) of May 11, 1949, which asked the Economic and Social Council, with the assistance of various specialized agencies, to investigate the condition of the “aboriginal populations of the States of the American continent.”   n232 However, this resolution “was prompted more by the Cold War and the prospective development of the South American interior than by studied concern for the welfare of indigenous communities.”   n233 The International Labor Organization (“ILO”), on the other hand, had been addressing the issue since its inception. A Committee of Experts on Native Labor was set up as early as 1926, and a number of early conventions dealt with indigenous peoples.   n234 The ILO’s biggest contribution, however, came in 1957 with Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention Number 107 (“Convention No. 107”), the international community’s first instrument to address comprehensively and specifically the needs of indigenous and tribal peoples.   n235

Conceptually, Convention No. 107 is interesting because it lumps indigenous peoples together with tribal and “semi-tribal” peoples.   n236 Indigenous peoples have rights, therefore, not by virtue of their history of oppression or colonization, but because they pose a special developmental problem. Article 1(a) declares that the Convention applies to peoples “whose social and economic conditions are at a less advanced stage than the stage reached by the other sections of the national community.”   n237 Article 3, which mandates the adoption of special measures “for the protection of the institutions, persons, property and labour of these populations,” contains the proviso that these measures are only necessary “so long as the social, economic and cultural conditions of the populations concerned prevent them from enjoying the benefits of the general laws of the country to which they belong.”   n238

It is precisely because of this initial choice of conceptual viewpoints that Convention No. 107 presumes that the correct approach towards indigenous and tribal peoples is to integrate them into the mainstream as soon as possible. Article 2(1), for example, declares  [*706]  that “governments shall have the primary responsibility for developing co-ordinated and systematic action for the protection of the populations concerned and their progressive integration into the life of their respective countries.”   n239 In short, the controlling principle behind ILO Convention No. 107 was congruent with the individualist focus of the post-1947 human rights legal framework. The best way to assure the rights of a particular group was first to guarantee a set of individual rights to all individuals, and then to try and make that group indistinguishable from the general populace.

Nevertheless, Convention No. 107 did delineate a number of rights aimed at protecting the existing character of indigenous peoples. For example, Article 13(1) mandated that states were to respect “procedures for the transmission of rights of ownership and use of land which are established by the customs of the populations concerned.”   n240 Article 13(2) added that states were to make arrangements “to prevent persons who [were] not members of the populations concerned from taking advantage of these customs or of lack of understanding of the laws on the part of the members of those populations to secure the ownership or use of the lands belonging to such members.”   n241 However, “the protective regime [of Convention No. 107] is temporary and transitional, intended only to ameliorate the harsh consequences of rapid loss of [indigenous peoples’] culture during the integration process.”   n242

The problem is that while “directed integration of the kind contemplated by Convention No. 107 was viewed as progressive in the 1940’s and 1950’s, in the context of indigenous peoples it is readily apparent that state programmes of this nature have had ethnocidal consequences.”   n243 The problem of state coercion is exacerbated in that Convention No. 107 leaves little residual political power to indigenous or tribal peoples, but instead greatly limits their decisionmaking autonomy. Thus, while on the one hand Article 11 recognizes collective ownership of land,   n244 Article 12 declares that indigenous peoples may be dispossessed of their ancestral territories “for reasons relating to national security, or in the interest of national economic development.”   n245 Similarly, Article 7 declares that “these populations shall be allowed to retain their own customs and institutions,” but then restricts this privilege to only those instances “where these [customs and institutions] are not incompatible with the national legal system or the objectives of integration programmes.”   n246

In the final analysis, even though Convention No. 107 represents a significant acknowledgment of particular rights, it has come under heavy criticism for its “assimilationist” approach and for the degree to which it subordinates the interests of indigenous peoples to “national” interests. The utility of the Convention is further limited by the fact that it has only been ratified by twenty-seven states (including Pakistan) and “within those few states, its effectiveness as a guarantee of indigenous rights is  [*707]  questionable.”   n247 Thus, contemporary scholars have not been kind in reviewing Convention No. 107’s impact. Thornberry’s conclusion that “it is as much of a contribution to the cultural destruction of [indigenous] groups as it is to their salvation”   n248 is echoed by other scholars:


Rather than providing a source of rights for indigenous peoples seeking to retain their territorial, political, social, and cultural integrity, the instrument mandates the gradual integration of indigenous individuals into national societies and economies, thus legitimizing the gradual extinction of indigenous peoples . . . . Indeed, Convention No. 107 has been an embarrassment to the ILO.   n249



  1. Introduction

The international law framework of human rights in the years following World War II was, if not hostile, certainly indifferent to the particular situation of indigenous peoples. Indeed, this regime’s basic assumption — that rights were only exercised by and bestowed upon individuals — emphasized universal applicability of only the most elementary human rights. The sole international instrument addressing indigenous peoples thus approached their problems from an individualist perspective and presumed their distinctive existence and culture to be more of an obstacle to development than a legacy to be preserved. To the extent that international law recognized the rights of peoples as a collective, it granted them the right of self-determination. However, the fragility of most newly independent states and the danger of widespread irredentism meant that the application of this right outside the context of decolonization was quite problematic. Apart from the right to self-determination, international law only granted groups the right not to be murdered en masse and the right not to be discriminated against.

Despite this unpromising situation, one increasingly expressed viewpoint asserts an “emerging norm” relating to the rights of indigenous peoples under international law.   n250 The substantive content of the norm, though not clearly defined, reveals a recognition by domestic governments of “the special needs of indigenous populations for cultural protections, recognition of indigenous land rights, welfare rights (e.g., housing, education and health-care), and self-rule.”   n251 As Anaya puts it, “the core idea of the right of selfdefined indigenous communities to continue as distinct units of human interaction has taken root internationally, making any discussion of their assimilation into larger  [*708]  societies virtually obsolete among social science and legal experts and even government representatives.”   n252

More importantly, this norm is not just a negative right of indigenous communities to be left alone. The “norm cannot be fulfilled by mere state nonintervention in indigenous cultural affairs; it requires positive measures by the state to foster and preserve indigenous traditions.”   n253 The 1983 Cobo Report elaborates even further on the obligations of the host state:


“The fact that the State has clear positive responsibilities in matters of cultural rights is generally recognized today. . . . While of course, individuals, groups and communities have primary roles in the development of their own culture, it has been recognized that at least some form of financial assistance is needed from the local, regional and national authorities in order to maintain adequate improvement of economic and social conditions and the rate of technical developments which will make it possible for everyone, without discrimination, to take part in the cultural life of his community and that of the nation at large.”   n254


Discussion of the “emerging norm” has focused more on the substantive content of the norm rather than on the basis for its emergence. To the extent, however, that such conceptual bases can be isolated, they can be placed into three categories. First, a number of legal arguments have been advanced as supporting the development of an indigenous rights norm. Second, various nonlegal rationales have been elaborated by particular indigenous rights advocates as justifying an indigenous rights norm. Third, a number of multilateral conventions and instruments have been developed in recent years regarding the rights and status of indigenous peoples.

  1. Legal Arguments Supporting the Emergence of an Indigenous Rights Norm

In general, theorists support an indigenous rights norm either in reference to the right of self-determination or by expanding the purview of individual rights to include other rights, such as the right to development and cultural integrity. In reference to self-determination, the general argument has been that self-determination should not be seen as a rigid concept, either statehood or nothing, but as a concept covering a full spectrum of possibilities ranging from full statehood to limited forms of political autonomy.   n255 Accordingly, the right to self-determination governs the right of peoples to determine the political process by which choices affecting their lives are made.

[*709]  With respect to development, for indigenous peoples this right necessarily incorporates the “right to . . . develop . . . past, present and future manifestations of their cultures.'”   n256 In other words, in the context of indigenous peoples, this right necessarily means the right to control the processes and priorities of development.

Finally, with respect to cultural integrity, Anaya argues that “the new body of international law concerning indigenous peoples intersects with and in significant part extends from a generally applicable human rights norm of cultural integrity.”   n257 This norm, he argues, has not only been a feature of European treaties since the Peace of Westphalia, but is presently affirmed in Article 27 of the ICCPR.   n258 According to Anaya, it “cover[s] all aspects of [the] indigenous group’s survival as a distinct culture . . . [and requires] states to act affirmatively to protect the cultural matrix of indigenous groups and not simply to refrain from coercing assimilation or abandonment of cultural practices.”   n259

  1. Nonlegal Arguments Supporting an Indigenous Rights Norm
  2. The Restorative Paradigm

The restorative paradigm rests on a number of contentions: first, that “despite variations in the specific political and historical circumstances surrounding nondominant native populations, nearly all indigenous groups share a common set of problems”;   n260 and second, that only “as a direct consequence of European colonial expansion [have] indigenous peoples . . . been deprived of their independence, their land, and their right to choose their role in the modern state”:   n261


These problems largely result from the nature of the relationship between colonizers and conquered indigenous populations. The colonizers, in order to benefit from local resources and to establish effective political power over the territory, often took the land away from the natives.

Furthermore, as the colonial powers began to consolidate power, they found it expedient to impose their way of life on native groups whose traditions they often considered primitive. . . . As an ultimate result of this dynamic between colonizer and colonized, the native populations were stripped of their land, their traditions were besieged, and their political autonomy was dramatically circumscribed.   n262


The ultimate contention is “that individuals who have been persecuted as a group should be acknowledged as a group in any public remedies.”   n263 The restorative paradigm presents  [*710]  a neat logical progression: all indigenous peoples suffer today from the same problems, which are results of their colonization by settler nations who continue to dominate the state’s apparatus of power; therefore, it is only equitable that the state should “atone” and compensate the indigenous peoples for all that they have suffered.   n264

  1. The Comparative Rationale

An additional rationale focuses not on the history of colonization but on the fact that “indigenous people are still among the most severely disadvantaged groups in their states.”   n265 Preferential economic treatment for them is based upon the argument that they deserve the same minimum economic welfare standards as other groups, and that, in turn, achieving this goal requires affirmative action:


Where a State legislates to advance the interests of indigenous peoples or minorities by . . . adopting affirmative employment programs, such measures often attract the criticism that they are discriminatory or that they violate the principle of equality . . . . It has, however, been accepted by international and domestic tribunals that . . . “the principle of equality before the law does not mean the absolute equality, namely equal treatment of men without regard to individual, concrete circumstances, but it means the relative equality, namely the principle to treat equally what are equal and unequally what are unequal[.] . . . To treat unequal matters differently according to their inequality is not only permitted but required.”   n266


  1. Multilateral Instruments and Indigenous Rights

Although the main international body dealing with the rights of indigenous peoples was the ILO, the approach taken by Convention No. 107 was so unacceptably assimilationist   n267 that “indigenous peoples and human rights NGO’s . . . avoided attempting to utilize the restricted though excellent review procedures of the ILO for fear of giving any credibility to the substantive provisions and general orientation of the  [*711]  instrument.”   n268 As a result, “the past decade’s growing political mobilization of indigenous peoples has focused on the possibility of coordinated action by the United Nations.”   n269 Additionally, as advances in global communications and increased media awareness led to greater sensitivity, states, NGOs, and various agencies began “to recognize that a solution to these problems required a separate exploration from minority rights in general.”   n270 The result of these trends was that, in 1982, the advisory Sub-Commission to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights established a Working Group on Indigenous Populations and, more importantly, commissioned a study on discrimination against them. In 1985, the Working Group was mandated to draft a Universal Declaration of Indigenous Rights.   n271

In the meantime, the ILO, becoming more aware of dissatisfaction with Convention No. 107, had begun a review of that instrument. In 1986, an ILO-convened meeting of experts concluded that “‘the Convention’s integrationist approach [was] inadequate and no longer reflect[ed] current thinking,’ and they recommended a thorough and immediate revision, based on the principle that indigenous peoples ‘should enjoy as much control as possible over their own economic, social and cultural development.'”   n272 A formal revision procedure was thus established,   n273 and in 1989 revised Convention Number 169 (“Convention No. 169”) was adopted at Geneva.

While Convention No. 169 is certainly an improvement, the ILO’s decision to revise the Convention has not met with unanimous approval.

While the problems with Convention 107 are glaring, it is not entirely clear why the ILO determined to resuscitate the instrument at this time. Since 1982, United Nations human rights organs have been engaged in standard-setting on indigenous rights with the active participation of indigenous peoples and NGO’s. As a specialized agency with a limited and defined mandate relating to labour issues, the ILO seems poorly positioned to concern itself with the fundamental indigenous rights issues that have emerged in the U.N. process: self-determination, territorial integrity including resource rights, and cultural integrity. . . . Although the ILO unquestionably has humane reasons for seeking to update its standards, the insistence on a thematically comprehensive Convention by a limited agency clearly indicates no small element of bureaucratic territoriality as a prime motivating factor.   n274


However, whether pure altruism or the desire to protect its own turf inspired the ILO, the preamble to Convention No. 169 recognizes specifically “the aspirations of these [indigenous] peoples to exercise control over their own institutions, ways of life and economic development and to maintain and develop their identities, languages and  [*712]  religions, within the framework of the States in which they live”   n275 and then notes that “in many parts of the world these [indigenous] peoples are unable to enjoy their fundamental human rights to the same degree as the rest of the population of the States within which they live.”   n276

Thus, the revised convention does not have a comparative viewpoint. Indigenous peoples should be given special attention not because they are economically disadvantaged but so they may “maintain and develop their identities, languages and religions.”   n277 Under Article 2, governments must develop, “with the participation of the peoples concerned, [a] co-ordinated and systematic action to protect the rights of these peoples”   n278 and promote “the full realisation of the social, economic and cultural rights of these peoples with respect for their social and cultural identity, their customs and traditions and their institutions.”   n279 Article 4 mandates that “special measures shall be adopted as appropriate for safeguarding the persons, institutions, property, labour, cultures and environment of the peoples concerned.”   n280

While by no means the only ones, the Draft Declaration of Indigenous Rights and the revised Convention No. 169 are certainly the most prominent examples of recent international standard-setting activity. Other initiatives include the nomination of 1993 as the International Year for the World’s Indigenous People,   n281 the reference to indigenous rights in the 1992 Rio Summit,   n282 and other declarations of indigenous rights.   n283 One author concludes: “These developments in the international arena have begun to have an effect on indigenous peoples’ political movements at the national level. United Nations activities have not only added to the strength of conviction of national movements, but are beginning to open up opportunities for concrete aid.”   n284


The previous Part examined the various possible bases for the development of an indigenous rights norm. This Part argues that those bases either do not deal directly with the value of cultural preservation, or that the rationales utilized by them are not universally applicable, as is shown by their application to the specific context of the Kalash. This Part also contends that, to the extent that indigenous rights advocates have supported the emerging norm using international law, the provisions they rely upon are neither generally accepted as being part of international law nor are their interpretations justified given traditional standards of scholarship.

[*713]  A. Problems with the Legal Arguments

  1. Third-Generation Human Rights and Their Application

The norm of cultural integrity and the right to development do not provide a reason for the preferential treatment of the Kalash. These standards confer individual rights, albeit only on members of particular groups, but they do not provide a rationale for distinguishing the rights of any one particular group from a different group’s. For example, the right to cultural integrity is conceptually indistinguishable from other individual-oriented human rights norms in that it expands state obligations to preserve cultural matrices. Conceptually, therefore, the right to cultural integrity and the right to development can be regarded as part of a “third generation”   n285 of human rights based on human solidarity which expands the economic entitlements of individuals. Though the most well known of these is the “right to development,” one author has proposed that they should also include the right to a reasonable environment, economic development, international peace and security, the common heritage of mankind, communications, and humanitarian assistance.   n286

International reaction to attempts to expand the human rights pantheon to include economic rights has not been encouraging.   n287 The United States, for example, partially justified its withdrawal from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (“UNESCO”) on the basis that UNESCO’s emphasis on economic rights, such as the right to development, “‘tend[ed] to strengthen the prerogative of a nondemocratic State, at the expense of the human rights of individuals.'”   n288 One commentator has been even harsher in his assessment:


One does not have to accept the view that international human rights are a closed category to regard some of the suggestions for the elaboration of ‘solidarity rights’ as mere novelties, apparently proposed for the sake of finding something new to say. The excessive generality and the disregard for content demonstrated in some of the elaborations of new rights not only raise questions about individual proposals, but reflect badly on the notion of a ‘third generation’ of rights as such. Their relation to existing human rights is also problematic. If proposals for a right to development can be elaborated and supported without any obvious content first being attributed to that right, how can one be confident of the content of existing rights?   n289


Leaving aside the lack of scholarly consensus, the point is that expanding the basket of individual entitlements still does not address why the Kalash alone deserve preferential economic treatment. Since the right to cultural integrity and the right to development are conceptualized as universally applicable rights of individuals, they are applicable to all ethnic groups within a particular state. This becomes a problem in the context of the  [*714]  Kalash because “the Third World state is usually an historically derived heterogeneous collectivity thrown together by the processes of colonialism and welded together by the bitter struggles of nationalist anti-colonialism,”   n290 and Pakistan is certainly no exception to that rule. Besides the four major ethnic groups in Pakistan (Punjabis, Baluchis, Sindhis, and Pashtuns), a vast number of minor ethnic groups including Braghuis, Jats, Gujars, Baltis, Rajasthanis, Hindus, Sikhs, Wakhis, Swatis, Chitralis (Khos), and Hunzakuts (Burushashki speakers) vastly outnumber the Kalash.   n291

As a poor country, Pakistan is certainly in no position to provide even the minimum level of human rights guaranteed in the U.N. Charter, let alone an expansive laundry list of economic entitlements. Moreover, even to the extent that these rights are economically feasible, the right to cultural integrity and the right to development cannot provide a rationale as to why the “cultural matrix” of the Kalash is any more worthy of special solicitude than that of larger and equally indigenous groups. Thus, the right to cultural integrity is capable only of giving a general value to the preservation of distinct cultures; what it does not provide is any rationale for determining whether one particular culture is more in need of government subsidy than any other. In fact, operating on the assumption that all cultural matrices are of equal value, the cultural integrity norm actually militates against aid to the Kalash since, from a strict utilitarian perspective, the same expenditure could be used to protect the cultures of much larger communities.

  1. Article 27 and the Norm of Cultural Integrity

Pakistan is not a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Under the classical understanding of international law, Pakistan is therefore under no obligation to observe the terms of the Covenant. Article 34 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties provides that “[a] treaty does not create either obligations or rights for a third State without its consent.”   n292 However, the terms of Article 27 may still apply to Pakistan if it can be argued that Article 27, or the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as a whole, constitutes customary international law. As Article 38 of the Vienna Convention acknowledges, a rule set forth in a treaty may become binding upon a third state as a customary rule of international law.   n293

Whether or not the ICCPR constitutes customary international law is not an issue on which publicists agree. Thornberry, for example, concluded after an exhaustive review that “Article 27 . . . appears to be a right granted by treaty without wider repercussions in customary law.”   n294 Dinstein, on the other hand, argued that Article 27 is “declaratory in nature and reflects a minimum of rights recognised by customary international law,”   n295 while Anaya concluded that Article 27 is evidence of “a generally applicable human rights norm of cultural integrity.”   n296

The process by which certain rights come to be consecrated as part of customary international law and thereby binding on all states has attracted a great deal of scholarly  [*715]  attention. The classical expression of this process is described by Oppenheim: “Wherever and as soon as a line of international conduct frequently adopted by States is considered legally obligatory or legally right, the rule which may be abstracted from such conduct is a rule of customary International Law.”   n297 A less tautological view of this process is described by McDougal, Lasswell, and Chen:


The creation of customary law[] involves the generation of expectations about policies, authority, and control by cooperative behavior, both official and nonofficial. The perspectives among peoples, especially among their effective decision makers, are crystallized in such a way that certain past uniformities in decision and behavior are expected to be continued in the future. The technical requirements for establishing a customary prescription in international law are . . . generally observed to include two key elements: a ‘material’ element in certain past uniformities in behavior and a ‘psychological’ element, or opinio juris, in certain subjectivities of ‘oughtness’ attending such uniformities in behavior.   n298


To determine whether Article 27 is part of customary international law, we must first examine whether the “material element” exists in the shape of “patterns of communicative behavior involving physical episodic conduct” and whether this element is supported by the required opinio juris.   n299 In examining the existence of the “material element,” what we must address first is whether these patterns must be deduced solely from the actions of states, or whether other actors can also be seen as authoritative. Anaya, for example, takes an extremely aggressive view on this point:


Interactive patterns around concrete events are no longer considered the only — or even necessarily required — material elements constitutive of customary norms. With the advent of modern international intragovernmental institutions and enhanced communications media, states and other relevant actors increasingly engage in dialogue to come to terms on international standards. It is now understood that express communication, whether or not in association with concrete events, is a form of practice that builds customary rules, and that communication may itself bring about a convergence of understanding and expectation about rules even in advance of a widespread corresponding pattern of physical conduct.   n300


This view is excessively deferential in its attitude towards the authoritative effect of the pronouncements of scholars and other nongovernmental actors and is logically flawed. It is one thing to admit that in an age of instantaneous global telecommunications, agencies may function as authoritative actors in the constitutive process of customary international law. However, agencies and other nongovernmental actors fulfill this role precisely because they act as governmental representatives (or because states may choose, in certain circumstances, to defer to their authority) and not as authoritative actors in their own right. McDougal and his colleagues recognize this point by noting that the recognition of a particular practice as authoritative depends on the perspective of “effective decision makers.”   n301 Similarly, Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice defines “international custom” as a source of international law only to the extent that it is “evidence of a general practice accepted as law.”   n302

[*716]  This is not to deny that international agencies or even nongovernmental agencies on occasion serve as originators and framers of customary international law. However, such nonstate actors function only as reliable indicators of state practice or of normative rules and provisions that states consider binding. A nonstate actor, such as an NGO, acting independently in its own right, is not a source of international law. Thus, McDougal may argue that “the evidences which decision makers may consult in order to ascertain past behavior and subjectivities include . . . the writings of publicists,”   n303 but he also admits that these “evidences” are relevant only in that they “present[] an authentic picture of the practice of states in their international dealings.”   n304 Anaya’s dismissal of state practice as unnecessary for the formation of customary international law is, therefore, considerably overstated.   n305

Assuming then that a rule of customary international law is essentially a rule of state practice, to analyze whether Article 27 constitutes customary international law, one must first examine the text and the history of the ICCPR to unearth the understanding of the signatory parties.   n306 According to Thornberry, however, not only did the ICCPR delegates not see themselves as “creating, by a magical process of transmutation, an ‘instant’ customary law,”   n307 but, unlike the drafters of the Genocide Convention, did not even indicate in the Covenant or the language of Article 27 that they were merely restating or confirming preexisting customary law.   n308 Furthermore, he notes that many states, France being one prominent example, declared very clearly that they did not see Article 27 as applying to them.   n309 Thornberry therefore concludes that Article 27 is “a right granted by treaty without wider repercussions in customary law.”   n310

Anaya reaches a different conclusion by relying on various U.N. resolutions   n311 as well as recent decisions by the U.N. Human Rights Committee   n312 and the Inter-American  [*717]  Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States.   n313 A closer analysis of the relevant decisions, however, shows that none of these tribunals relied on Article 27 as a binding source of obligations on a nonsignatory. Two of the three cases involved signatories of the ICCPR — Canada and Nicaragua — and therefore, any discussion of whether Article 27 constitutes customary international law in those decisions is pure dicta. In the case involving the Yanomami Indians of Brazil, the Inter-American Commission did not rely on Article 27 as much as it did on the obligations binding upon Brazil as a result of its own domestic legislation.   n314

However, whether Article 27 constitutes customary international law is in many ways subordinate to what the obligations imposed by Article 27 actually are. If there is merely a negative duty of noninterference with minority cultures, then Article 27 is only a narrow restatement of broader customary law. However, if Article 27 imposes a positive duty upon governments to protect and encourage minority cultures, then the issue becomes far more pressing.

The argument in favor of a “strong” interpretation of Article 27 is presented most forcefully by Francesco Capotorti, the Special Rapporteur to the Sub-Commission on Discrimination Against Minorities. He “adopts the positive interpretation of Article 27 by arguing that the Article must add something to the rest of the text in accordance with the principle of efficacy in the reading of international instruments.”   n315 Since “neither the non-prohibition of the exercise of . . . [cultural rights] by persons belonging to minority groups nor the constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression and association are sufficient for the effective implementation of the right of members of minority groups” to preserve and develop their own culture,   n316 Article 27 requires “active and sustained intervention by States.”   n317

Capotorti’s second argument is that Article 27 is closer in spirit to the rights set out in the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights (“ICESCR”) than it is to those in the ICCPR. This distinction is important. Thornberry notes that “whereas civil and political rights require the State to refrain from certain types of action against individuals,  [*718]  an expression of the status negativus libertatis, economic, social, and cultural rights require the State to act positively on behalf of the right holders.”   n318 Capotorti reasons:


Among the rights referred to in Article 27, at least one goes beyond the range of civil and political rights; the right of members of minorities to enjoy their own culture in community with the other members of their group seems to be involved not merely with freedom of expression but rather more with the right to education and the right to take part in cultural life, which are provided for in under the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights . . . . It is, accordingly, clear that, at least in the field of culture, the States are under a duty to adopt specific measures to implement Article 27 in the same way as they are in the case of the provisions on cultural rights under the Covenant guaranteeing them.   n319


Capotorti’s position does not recommend itself. To the extent that he relies on the similarity between cultural rights and the rights guaranteed in the ICESCR, Capotorti’s argument suffers from the fatal flaw that Article 27 is found not in the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, but rather in the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Thornberry, who finds Capotorti’s position “logical and literal,” tries to gloss over this problem: “The siting of a particular human rights norm in a ‘civil and political rights’ context does not completely determine the character of the obligation generated by it.”   n320 One may grant Thornberry that the situs of the article should not preclude any argument about the nature of the obligations under that article, but for Capotorti to then leverage the tenuous “familial” relationship between Article 27 and other cultural rights into affirmative state obligation is academic bootstrapping of a high order.

Further, the law is often very different from what it “ought” to be. As Tomuschat points out, “One may easily agree with . . . Capotorti[] that the negative formulation of Art. 27 ‘does not meet the requirements of the situation.’ But this statement is just a maxim of legal policy which does not rest on fully reflected foundations.”   n321 Even if one admits that mandating that states take certain affirmative measures would best serve minorities, one must also admit that the protection of minorities is not the only criterion to examine. States are always protective of their sovereignty, and obligating them to take measures runs against the grain of international law, even in its post-World War II incarnation. And in a world of limited resources, such mandates remove states’ ability to utilize their resources in other ways.   n322 As the continuing debate in the United States over affirmative action demonstrates, there exists little consensus regarding the legal or moral validity of such solicitude for the rights of a minority.

[*719]  Capotorti’s argument that Article 27 is unnecessary unless understood as mandating affirmative measures is also overstated. In one of its more famous cases, the short-lived Permanent Court of International Justice (“PCIJ”) dealt with the issue of minority schools in Albania,   n323 a signatory to one of the League of Nation’s treaties protecting the rights of minorities. In 1933, Albania banned all private schools, including those run by ethnic minorities.   n324 This measure had been challenged in the PCIJ as restricting minority rights, to which Albania had responded that it was only obligated not to discriminate against minorities; it was under no special duty to protect them.   n325 The PCIJ disagreed, asserting two requirements for the protection of minorities:

The first is to ensure that nationals belonging to racial, religious or linguistic minorities shall be placed in every respect on a footing of perfect equality with the other nationals of the State.

The second is to ensure for the minority elements suitable means for the preservation of their racial peculiarities, their traditions and their national characteristics.

These two requirements are indeed closely interlocked, for there would be no true equality between a majority and a minority if the latter were deprived of its own institutions, and were consequently compelled to renounce that which constitutes the very essence of its being as a minority.   n326


While this particular section is often cited to show how the state is obligated to take particular measures, the actual judgment in the case is that a state may not take affirmative measures which have a disparate impact on minorities. This interpretation is the correct understanding of Article 27. Not only does it avoid the efficacy of interpretation problem raised by Capotorti, but it has the added benefit of comporting with the judgment of a number of scholars (as analyzed below) who have concluded that Article 27 does not impose affirmative obligations on states.

Finally, the curiously framed language of Article 27 itself most clearly presents the case against a “positive interpretation.” In contrast to the vast majority of articles which use the mandatory “shall,”   n327 Article 27 only states that individuals belonging to identifiable minorities “shall not be denied the right . . . to enjoy their culture.” This negative language clearly contemplates a less demanding commitment.   n328 Moreover, as several scholars have established, the negative formulation of Article 27 was chosen deliberately and with full knowledge of the kinds of inferences that would be drawn from such phraseology.   n329 Tomuschat concludes that “it is difficult to see a convincing  [*720]  justification for given [sic] a broader construction to Art. 27 by requiring States to give positive assistance to minorities.”   n330

Since Article 27 does not impose affirmative obligations upon states, the most one can argue is that it imposes a heightened duty of nondiscrimination on states, so that states may not take measures which would have a disproportionate impact on minorities. However, because negative rights are not relevant in this particular context, the search for a legal source to preserve the Kalash must move on to other grounds.

  1. Problems with the Nonlegal Arguments
  2. The Restorative Paradigm

The obvious problem with the restorative paradigm is that it only works if one restricts the definition of indigenous peoples (as indeed some authors do) to “those groups colonized by Western or other settler states and who have lost their [external] sovereignty while maintaining a distinct cultural identity.”   n331 This may be generally true of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, but as we have seen, it is not easy to make any colonizer/settler distinctions in the case of the Kalash. Indeed, history shows that the Kalash themselves are invaders. They originated in Central Asia, settled in Afghanistan, and only in the 14th and 15th centuries migrated to the areas they presently occupy. Moreover, it is not always easy to portray the Kalash as helpless victims. The lands that the Kalash occupied were not terra nullius, but populated by the Balalik, an indigenous people whom the Kalash subjugated and who eventually either died out or were exterminated. The Kalash also fought and briefly subjugated the other indigenous tribe of the area, the Kho of Chitral, before eventually succumbing to the Chitralis. It is true that the Kalash were subjects of the Chitrali Mehtars for many centuries, but it is also true that they managed to keep their identity and their culture alive during those centuries because the Mehtars protected them (for whatever reason) from other Muslims eager to convert them. In particular, had the Kalash not been subjects of the Mehtar, they too would have been forced to suffer the fate met by all the other Kafir tribes of the Hindukush; that is, during the Kafiristan campaign of 1896 they would have been either killed by Abdur Rahman’s troops or forced to convert to Islam.

From an analytical perspective, the restorative paradigm is merely a specialized version of the “first in time” rule of property ownership, which depends for its moral force upon a simple division into indigenous and settler, the oppressed and the oppressor.   n332 It does  [*721]  not provide a generally applicable rationale of why cultural identity must be upheld by a state. I do not mean to diminish the tragedy of the indigenous groups of the Americas as a result of the “discovery” of the New World, but one cannot draw such categorical conclusions in all cases, as can be seen by examining the convoluted history of the Kalash.

One possible retort to this criticism is that peoples such as the Kalash are not “indigenous,” but rather “tribal,” and that only those peoples are “indigenous” who have been colonized by Western nations. However, that would only prove that indigenous rights as currently conceptualized do not protect the value of cultural preservation as universally applicable. Instead, indigenous rights would only be a subset of the everincreasing phenomenon of “victim’s rights.” Moreover, indigenous rights are claims for the preservation of a distinct people, and it seems specious to decide whether a particular people should survive or perish based upon its historical background. Historical inequities may provide a rationale as to why a particular group of people deserve to be given special treatment, but that rationale is completely separate from whether indigenous peoples have a right to preserve their cultural identity.

Indeed, international practice certainly has not much distinguished between “indigenous” and “tribal” peoples. ILO Convention No. 169 applies to both “indigenous” and “tribal” peoples and sees their problems as sufficiently alike to demand the same solutions. In fact, the definition of “indigenous” used in Convention No. 169 was specifically amended to include groups like the Sami of Lapland who did not qualify otherwise as indigenous peoples.   n333 The same broad approach underlies the most generally accepted definition of indigenous peoples, that given in the Cobo Report:


Those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing in those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems.   n334


According to one author who cites the Cobo study as an authoritative definition, the category of indigenous peoples “is generally understood to include not only the native tribes of the American continents but also other culturally distinctive non-state groupings, such as the Australian aboriginal communities and tribal peoples of southern Asia, that similarly are threatened by the legacies of colonialism.”   n335 And as another author notes, “The best evidence of this distinct cultural identity results from indigenous peoples identifying themselves as such.”   n336

[*722]  2. The Comparative Paradigm

With respect to the comparative paradigm, the Kalash may live in miserable conditions — poverty, illiteracy, and little health care — but they are certainly no worse off than most Pakistanis. More particularly, it is impossible to distinguish the Kalash, in terms of their standard of living, from any of the other inhabitants of the general area which they occupy.   n337 Pakistan, by any measure, is poor. Moreover, it is a country that due to political constraints spends 40% of its budget on military defense and only 3% on education and health programs combined.   n338 It goes without saying that Pakistan would be a far better place if those percentages were reversed, and indeed it is coming under increasing pressure from international lenders to change its spending habits.   n339 Leaving political observations aside, Pakistan indisputably has no shortage of people whose living standards need to be improved, and at least as far as objectively quantifiable living conditions are concerned, one cannot argue that the Kalash are any more economically or socially disadvantaged than a large percentage of Pakistan’s population. Moreover, there are as many Kalash who have converted to Islam as there are Kalash who continue to follow their traditional customs. Is it really justifiable for one group of people to receive government aid while another is excluded solely because of their religion? This is not merely a hypothetical issue. Over 68% of institutional loans given in the Kalash valleys were made to the Kalash even though Muslims outnumber Kalash in the valleys.   n340

  1. Other Problems Inherent in the Indigenous Rights Norm

The inability of the Kalash (or of other indigenous groups) to adapt to the demands of modern life is not unique to the Kalash: Cultures change and mutate every day. For example, there is much concern in the United States about the gradual demise of smalltown life in the Midwestern states. There, as elsewhere, communities and a way of life which had survived for hundreds of years are now disappearing in response to the pressures of modernity. All cultures change, many of them in ways that people of a culture do not prefer. But “cultural change and assimilation are, of course, inevitable processes in human history. It is not necessary to list examples of vanished cultures to understand this fact. International law, like municipal law, cannot attempt, Canute-like, to roll back the tide of cultural development.”   n341

Even if Pakistan had unlimited resources to spend on protecting the cultural integrity of the Kalash, is this necessarily a good idea? The Kalash discriminate heavily against women and, indeed, consider them to be ritually impure; women exist as instruments of glory for the male members of the tribe. They are not allowed any positions of social  [*723]  power, nor are they allowed to have any say in political, legal, or religious affairs. As a result, their educational opportunities are severely restricted.

However, identifying those aspects of Kalash culture that do not accord with our “enlightened” conception of human rights leads down a slippery slope. Cultural relativists aside, most people would agree that the position of women in the Kalash culture ought to change. But if we judge their gender relations, can we not also judge their religious choices? Is it not possible to argue that it is actually in the best interests of the Kalash to be converted to Islam? States make judgments about what the appropriate models of social organization are all the time. In Pakistan, for example, the Ayub government passed a law in 1961 which liberalized divorce requirements and made it much easier for women to divorce men. Most scholars applaud this measure, but the perennial threat by Islamic fundamentalists to repeal this law causes much concern.   n342 However, if it is not only possible but laudable for Pakistan to give Muslim women rights that do not accord with orthodox Islamic law, should not Kalash women also be given rights not in accordance with Kalash practices?

On the other hand, it appears incongruous that the international community should accept a distinct people’s disappearance with equanimity and yet still be roused to fury by the disappearance of a particular species of animal or a patch of rainforest. Is there not something wrong if we conclude that the Kalash would have more of a right to preservation if they were a particular species of mountain goat? For example, the hunting of the houbara bustard, a rare endangered bird species favored for target practice by Arab sheiks, is a cause celebre among environmentalists in Pakistan who argue vehemently and loudly that the species must be preserved even if it alienates the extremely wealthy oil sheiks who come to hunt it.   n343 So, if preservation of bird species is an imperative, then why not that of human species?

Loude and Lievre respond that “the importance of the Kalash resides not in their numbers . . . but in their fidelity to a mode of thought which, if more thoroughly understood, should throw light upon the zones of obscurity that still becloud much of our knowledge of ancient India.”   n344 Similar arguments, in fact, are constantly being made on behalf of indigenous peoples whose survival is seen as essential to the preservation of the environment in their areas.   n345 Such arguments, however, fail for two reasons: First, understanding the development of Sanskrit is hardly the most pressing concern, and with all due respect to the Kalash, anthropological study of their rituals is not likely to produce the equivalent of a cure for cancer. Second, and more importantly, to view the Kalash as just another resource for the scientific world is to demean their dignity and to deny them  [*724]  their innate humanity. Human beings are not rats in a laboratory experiment, to be protected when desirable and to be discarded when useless. The “last thing we need is a law of indigenous peoples’ human rights that romanticizes indigenous peoples and situates them permanently in a primitive subsistence state as guardians of the rainforest.”   n346

Logically, such thinking leads us nowhere. How many Kalash do we actually need to preserve in order to keep their scientific value intact? Assuming their culture can be definitively and exhaustively catalogued, would they then be no longer worth saving? These questions have no proper answers because the premises underlying them are fundamentally misguided. If the Kalash deserve protection, it must be because they — as a people — have a collective fundamental right to continued existence, and not because they are possibly rewarding subjects of scientific inquiry.


The difficulty in formulating a convincing rationale for the preservation of the Kalash arises from the fact that all of these theories about the rights of indigenous peoples are essentially products of an individual-centered jurisprudence. Though valid in many contexts, these theories have significant limitations when it comes to determining, in the abstract, the right of a distinctive community to continue to exist as a particular unit of human interaction. For such a theory to be formulated, it must perforce deal with the rights of a community as a community, and not just with the rights of individuals who are members of that community.

However, international law recognizes only two collective rights: The right to physical existence and the right to self-determination, neither of which, as currently understood, are of any help. The solution lies in expanding and reorienting our understanding of the concept of self-determination so that it is understood not only as the right of a people, but also as the duty of a state with respect to a particular people.

The right to self-determination has unfortunately always been presented in somewhat absolutist terms. Either an ethnic group is a “people,” in which case it has the right to a sovereign state with all its attendant benefits and burdens, or alternatively, there is absolutely no recognition of the distinctive nature of its culture. Since the principle of self-determination, if followed to its logical extreme, would lead to a never-ending balkanization of existing states, the principle of self-determination is countered in international law with the principle of the territorial inviolability of states. This has led, as one author has put it, to a “‘semantic blockage’, that is, a situation where it is impossible to give any meanings to the operative terms involved that retain some resemblance to ordinary usage and at the same time leave the norms mutually consistent.”   n347

[*725]  One attempt to clear this blockage has been to identify certain objective standards which can be used to distinguish peoples worthy of self-determination from those who are not. Clinebell and Thomson, for example, defined the minimum requirements for statehood as including a permanent population, a defined territory, an effective government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other States.   n348 However, even by these standards, there is no basis for arguing that the right to self-determination could have any conceivable impact on the situation of the Kalash. Not only are they far too small a group, but they are a minority even within the three valleys that they now inhabit.

Generally speaking, the effort to identify objective factors which would differentiate peoples worthy of statehood from others who are not has met with disfavor. As one author explains, “Characterizing the right to self-determination in such an absolute way may be counterproductive because doing so gets in the way of fashioning real-world arrangements to ensure the survival of indigenous peoples.”   n349 Some scholars therefore argue that self-determination is of questionable relevance outside the context of decolonization,   n350 and one author goes so far as to say that “it is time for international lawyers to bite the bullet and say that the era of self-determination, insofar as it implies that independence is at stake, is over.”   n351

A second attempt out of the “semantic blockage” has been to “radically weaken[] the force of the notion of self-determination so that it covers any form of devolution or partial autonomy” in order to permit “a corresponding widening of the notion of a people to cover a very broad range of collectivities.”   n352 Thus, “self-determination can take a variety of forms along a spectrum from autonomy in particular subject matters such as cultural concerns, to full political autonomy, in which indigenous populations establish their own governments, design their own political systems, and enforce their own laws.”   n353 This notion has also been endorsed by indigenous advocacy groups, one of which made the following statement:


“We define our rights in terms of self-determination. We are not looking to dismember your States and you know it. But we do insist on the right to control our territories, our resources, the organisation of our societies, our own decision-making institutions, and the maintenance of our own cultures and ways of life.”   n354


In itself, the emphasis on self-determination for indigenous peoples is not new. However, the right to self-determination has more commonly been seen as stemming from “principles of self-government such as those embodied in the American Declaration of Independence and the French Declarations of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.”   n355 As such, the right to self-determination, no matter how broadly construed, has always been interpreted as referring to the form or process of political decisionmaking.   n356 Thus,  [*726]  even in the context of the Draft Declaration of Indigenous Rights, self-determination is seen as concerning “(1) the right to participate in the development of national indigenous policies; (2) the right of indigenous communities to determine the structure and character of their own institutions; and (3) the right of indigenous peoples to run their own internal affairs.”   n357

The proposal here though is to look at the right to self-determination not just from the perspective of to what “peoples” are entitled, but in light of Hohfeld’s observation that “one person’s right must mean another person’s duty.”   n358 The question is who has the duty to provide the right to self-determination. In a classical context, this “duty” is basically the obligation of the colonial state to dismember itself. However, widening the concept of self-determination in turn widens the scope of state obligations to protect the right of self-determination by granting some limited degree of autonomy to parties deserving it. The right to self-determination envisioned here, at an irreducible minimum, encompasses both the right of all ethnic and indigenous communities to continue to exist, in Anaya’s words, as “distinct units of human interaction,”   n359 and the duty of host states to protect that distinct status.

Though international law cannot attempt to freeze the process of cultural change, “it can attempt to locate processes of change in the general context of human rights, so that members of groups can play a part in the development of their heritage and choose the basis on which their culture can adapt to the world.”   n360 Recognition of this right imposes a duty on the state to accomodate and preserve particular communities. Even if a community is too small to demand realistically even the most limited degree of partial autonomy, the right to self-determination — that is, the right of a community to choose the basis on which its culture changes — must still be preserved and exercised on its behalf by the host state as part of its obligations to that community.

This theory of collective rights has the added benefit of being compatible with the general political context of Pakistan. As noted earlier, Pakistan’s population is dominated by four major ethnic groups and, politically, Pakistan is a federation consisting of four states, each in turn dominated by one of four major ethnic groups (the Punjabis in the Punjab, the Sindhis in Sindh, the Baluchis in Baluchistan, and the Pushtuns in the North West Frontier Province), and each group is in a position to control its cultural development through its democratically elected legislature. Whatever direction the culture takes, it is supposedly determined by the people. Members of indigenous groups like the Kalash do not have similar control over their destiny. As William Kymlicka notes with respect to Canadian indigenous groups:


The point isn’t that aboriginal people care more about cultural community than others. We all care about the fate of our cultural community . . . . Aboriginal fears about the  [*727]  fate of their cultural structure, however, are not paranoia — there are real threats. The English and French in Canada rarely have to worry about the fate of their cultural structure. They get for free what aboriginal peoples have to pay for; security of their cultural structure. That is an important inequality, and if it is ignored, it becomes an important injustice.   n361


The question then becomes whether this theory of community entitlements fares any better than an individual entitlements model. In other words, is it fair under this analysis to extend preferential economic treatment to one particular group and not to others? The short answer is yes. There is no other group of people in Pakistan whose identity is in as much danger as that of the Kalash. As for other groups which seek cultural security, political discourse in Pakistan with respect to the rights of many such groups has always tended to focus on their right to political autonomy. There is thus a long-standing demand by the inhabitants of the southern Punjab that a separate Seraiki-speaking province be established, and more recently the Mohajir community has been advocating the division of Sindh so as to gain a zone of political autonomy. Additionally, most of the minor ethnic groups, such as the Wakhi, the Swatis, the Hunzakuts, and the Baltis, are all located in northern parts of Pakistan. Until recently, the federal bureaucracy governed this area directly. However, in April, 1994, the Bhutto government established a legislative council that allowed residents of the area to govern themselves. To the extent that these residents feel that their cultural integrity is threatened, their communities have been politically empowered to protect themselves. The Kalash do not, and realistically cannot, have this degree of empowerment. The state must therefore preserve their right of distinct communal existence for them.

Of course, merely acknowledging the right of communities to continue as distinct units of human interaction does not untangle many of the very complicated issues implicated by the situation of the Kalash. This Article does not answer what the proper balance between the competing priorities of cultural preservation and individual human rights ought to be. Other problems arise from the inherent ambiguity in the concept of a “people.” It is far easier to bestow rights upon peoples or communities than to decide precisely which individuals are part of that collectivity. For example, should the government of Pakistan restrict its affirmative measures to the Kalash who are still pagan, or should it also include recent converts within its scope? Finally, what does it mean to preserve a community’s distinct identity? Are the Kalash to be kept like flies encased in amber, or should they be exposed to the outside world, and if so, to what degree? This Article does not — and is not intended to — supply the answers to these and many other questions. The aim here is to clarify the issues and the competing priorities at stake so that the debate over the rights of indigenous peoples can go beyond accusations against the West.


The continued survival of the Kalash obviously depends on considerations very different from those discussed in this Article. One such consideration is visible in the recognition that “the unique Kalash people are a foreign exchange resource of the country. Nothing in Pakistan, not even the Khyber, holds the fascination for the Western  [*728]  or the Japanese tourist as the Kalash Kafirs.”   n362 At the same time, intolerance is now at a higher level than ever in Pakistan, and it remains to be seen whether the desire of the federal government to preserve this “valuable source of foreign exchange” outweighs its fear of Islamic fundamentalists seeking to strike yet another blow for bigotry. Certainly, history is not with the Kalash.




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This article originally appeared in the Indiana Law Journal, 71 Ind. L.J. 673



n1 The first documented penetration of Kafiristan was by a British expedition in 1885, led by Colonel William Lockhart. Louis Dupree, Nuristan: “The Land of Light Seen Darkly”, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY FIELD STAFF: SOUTH ASIAN SERIES, Series C, Vol. 25:6, 1974, at 3; Schuyler Jones, An Annotated Bibliography of Nuristan (Kafiristan) and the Kalash Kafirs of Chitral (pt. 2), 43 HIST. FILOS. MEDD. DAN. VID. SELSK. 1, 17-20 (1969). The only sustained exploration came in 1890 when the British dispatched Sir George Scott Robertson to the area. His book SIR GEORGE SCOTT ROBERTSON, THE KAFIRS OF THE HINDUKUSH (photo. reprint 1970) (n.p. 1896), offers the only detailed portrait of the Kafirs prior to their forcible conversion in 1896.


n2 W.W. McNair, A Visit To Kafiristan, 6 PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY 1-18 (n.s.) (1884).












n8 T. H. Holdich, The Origin of The Kafir of the Hindu Kush, 7 GEOGRAPHICAL J. 42, 49 (1896).


n9 LOUDE & LIEVRE, supra note 3, at 10.


n10 Id. at 11-12; see also Dupree, supra note 1, at 2 (“Although much remains to be studied in Nuristan, I believe the people may ultimately be found to represent the easternmost remnants of the first major explosion (3rd-2nd millenniums B.C.) of Indo-European speakers from South Russian and Central Asia . . . .” (emphasis in original)).


n11 Loude and Livere note:

The ancestors of the Dards, of purely Indian tongue, must have abandoned the migration in its later stages, for “it does not seem necessary to go further back than Vedic Sanscrit to explain the forms one finds” in their languages. They apparently took over the pasture land, and then the rugged territories, to the north of the present city of Peshawer.

According to Kalash tradition, their first settlement was established in a land called Tsyam, which their later movements would suggest lay somewhere to the south of present-day Nuristan. Consequently they could not have crossed the barrier of the mountains or penetrated into the subcontinent.


LOUDE & LIEVRE, supra note 3, at 13 (quoting G. Fussman, Pour une Problematique Nouvelle des Religions Indennes Anciennes, 265 J. ASIATIQUE 23 (1977)).


n12 While the encounter between the Kafirs and Alexander has been memorialized in legend, there are also scholars of repute who agree that the pagans mentioned in Alexander’s dispatches were the progenitors of today’s Kalash Kafirs. See, e.g., Holdich, supra note 8, at 49. On the other hand, another author points out:


Records relating to Alexander’s campaign in the Hindu-Kush region, south of Chitral, speak of skirmishes with pagan tribes with customs and beliefs similar to those of the Kalash. But it may be borne in mind that the Kalash alone were not pagans at that time. The entire Afghanistan, particularly its eastern parts, were inhabited by pagan races and the Kho (and maybe several other) tribes of Chitral were also following a culture with customs and beliefs very similar to that of the Kalash and other pagan tribes.


Wazir Ali Shah, Notes on Kalash Folklore, in CULTURES OF THE HINDUKUSH 69 (1970) (Karl Jettmar & Lennart Edelberg eds., 1974).


n13 Dupree, supra note 1, at 2.


n14 Id.


n15 Id. The extent of Greek influence over Afghanistan is disputed but at least one author has argued that the Greek satrapy of Paropamisadae included parts of Kafiristan. See generally W.W. TARN, THE GREEKS IN BACTRIA AND INDIA (1951).


n16 Halfdan Siiger, Ethnological Field-Research in Chitral, Sikkim and Assam, 36 HIST. FILOS. MEDD. DAN. VID. SELSK. 32-33 (1956); see also VINCENT A. SMITH, THE OXFORD HISTORY OF INDIA 174 (photo. reprint 1961) (Percival Spear ed., 3d ed. 1958) (“For a few years, from 661 to 665 [A.D.], China enjoyed unparalleled prestige, [Kafirstan (Kapisa or Ki-pin) was a province of the empire,] and the ambassadors in attendance at the imperial court included envoys from the Suwat Valley and from all the countries extending from Persia to Korea.”).


n17 See LOUDE & LIEVRE, supra note 3, at 20.


n18 MUHAMMAD NAZIM, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SULTAN MAHMUD OF GHAZNA 74-75 (1931); see also LOUDE & LIEVRE, supra note 3, at 20.




In the spring of 1398, he [Tamurlane] set out on his Indian campaign, instigated thereto, as asserted in the Zafar-nama, by his desire to promote Islam and crush idolatry, and by the accounts which reached him of the toleration shown by the Muslim rulers towards their Hindu subjects and neighbours. After some preliminary operations against the Afghans . . . of the Suleyman Kuh and the Siya-push (“Blackrobed”) heathen of Kafiristan, he crossed the Indus on Muharram 12, 801 (Sept. 24, 1398) and proceeded to carry fire and sword into India.


Id. (footnote omitted). Other authors, however, have painted a more revealing picture of Tamurlane’s exploits:


[Tamurlane] affected to take revenge for the many cruelties inflicted by the Kafirs to their helpless Muslim neighbours; but the text of the (adapted) autobiography makes it clear that the expedition was planned and executed as an adventurous exploit of man-hunting, in order to show that brave soldiers would fight their way even into completely unknown and bewildering territory. In fact, the usual skulltowers were erected in some places; but one of the detachments fell into an ambush and was massacred, so “victorious retreat” was advisable.


1 KARL JETTMAR, THE RELIGIONS OF THE HINDU-KUSH: THE RELIGION OF THE KAFIRS 13 (Adam Nayyar trans., 1986) (citation omitted). Jettmar’s account is confirmed by Dupree who quotes a section of Tamurlane’s memoirs which indicate that the Kafirs successfully ambushed Tamurlane’s forces at one point and that Tamurlane himself was lucky to escape with his life. However, the attempt only raised the Conqueror’s ire and his subsequent notes indicate that his intention was “the extermination of the infidels.” Dupree, supra note 1, at 20-21 (quoting HENRY M. ELLIOT, THE HISTORY OF INDIA AS TOLD BY ITS OWN HISTORIANS 13-16 (John Dawson & Susil Gupta eds., 1963) (edited from the posthumous papers of Sir H.M. Elliot)); see also HOOKHAM, supra note 4, at 185-201.


n20 William Anderson, An Attempt to Identify Some of the Places Mentioned in the Itinery of Hiuan Thsang, 16 J. ASIATIC SOC’Y BENGAL 1183, 1196 (n.s.) (1847).


n21 Nurul Zaman Ahmad Auj, Mughal Expeditions Against Kafirs, NATION FILES, June 18, 1989. Babur, in fact, spends more time discussing Kafir winemaking skills than their military prowess and comes to the unflattering conclusion that they did not deserve their reputation — a conclusion shared by a later writer who noted that “I have had the opportunity of tasting the best brand of this classical liquor [and] . . . it is not of a high class. It reminded me of a badly corked Chablis, which it much resembled in appearance.” Holdich, supra note 8, at 49.


n22 Karl Jettmar, Iranian Influence on the Culture of the Hindukush, in CULTURES OF THE HINDUKUSH, supra note 12, at 39 (citation omitted).


n23 SIR EDWARD MACLAGAN, THE JESUITS AND THE GREAT MOGHUL 126 (1932). Alexander Gardner, a British soldier who served in Ranjit Singh’s army, notes in his memoris that when he visited Kafiristan between 1825 and 1830, the Kafirs told him two Europeans had lived in their country in approximately 1770 and had either died in captivity or been murdered by the Kafirs under the supposition that they were evil spirits. Gardner’s hypothesis is that the two must have been missionaries. ALEXANDER GARDNER, SOLDIER AND TRAVELLER (Hugh Pearse ed., Edinburgh & London, W. Blackwood & Sons 1898). According to Schuyler Jones, Gardner’s memoirs were the inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s famous short story, “The Man Who Would Be King.” Jones, supra note 1, at 58-59 n.155.


n24 According to Jettmar, the original area inhabited by Kafirs was much larger than that of present day Nuristan, and so Afghan attempts prior to 1896 had succeeded in converting those non-Nuristani Kafirs but had failed against the Nuristanis. 1 JETTMAR, supra note 19, at 14-15.




n26 Id.


n27 Id. at 30.


n28 The reasons provided in the “Simla Manifesto” were that Dost Mohammed had made an unprovoked attack on Ranjit Singh and, with reference to the siege of Herat, that the Afghanis in concert with Persia had “avowed schemes of aggrandizement and ambition injurious to the security . . . of India.” Id. at 32. However, the charges were “unfounded, if not downright fabrications” and “the siege of Herat had been lifted.” Id.


n29 Id. at 33.


n30 Id. at 42.


n31 The original Army of the Indus had included almost 17,000 soldiers, id. at 35, of which no more than a handful survived the final battle on January 13, 1843. As Miller notes, “Exactly one hundred years and one month later, Singapore fell to the Japanese. Until then, no British army in Asia would submit to so resounding a humiliation . . . .” Id. at 79. For a description of the retreat from Jalalabad, see generally id. at 43-86.


n32 Id. at 85.


n33 Id.


n34 Id. at 89.


n35 Id. at 170.


n36 As in the previous instance, British forces wound up besieged and encircled. However, unlike their previous debacle, the British this time managed to avoid being slaughtered and to hold out until relief forces arrived. Id. at 197-200.


n37 Id. at 205.


n38 Id. at 229.


n39 Amir Abdur Rahman’s view of himself should not be idly dismissed. Louis Dupree, one of the greatest modern scholars of Afghanistan, concluded that “had [Abdur Rahman] been born a hundred years earlier, this charismatic leader would probably have followed the patterns of previous Central Asian emperors, and expanded as far as force and intrigue could carry him.” LOUIS DUPREE, AFGHANISTAN 417 (1973).


n40 MILLER, supra note 25, at 225.


n41 Id. at 223.


n42 Id. at 229.


n43 The Panjdeh Incident, which for a while threatened to prompt a world war between England and Russia, occurred on March 30, 1885, when Russian and Afghan troops clashed over possession of a frontier oasis. The dispute was eventually solved peaceably but it certainly pushed Abdur Rahman irretrievably into the British camp. See MILLER, supra note 25, at 234-38; see also DUPREE, supra note 39, at 422-25.


n44 MILLER, supra note 25, at 237-38.


n45 DUPREE, supra note 39, at 426.


n46 MILLER, supra note 25, at 241.


n47 MILLER, supra note 25, at 241 (citing W.K. FRASER-TYTLER, AFGHANISTAN (1950)).


n48 DUPREE, supra note 39, at 425-27.


n49 Neville Chamberlain, Our Treatment of the Kafirs, 81 SATURDAY REV. 494-96 (1896).


n50 Id.


n51 HASAN KAWUN KAKAR, GOVERNMENT & SOCIETY IN AFGHANISTAN xxiv (1979). The Amir also gave the following rationale for the invasion of Kafiristan to Sir T. Salter Pyne, a British diplomat stationed at Kabul:


There are no trade routes allowed by the Kafirs through their country, I wish to open trade routes through it. For this I have several reasons. First, in case of complications arising from a source from which there is always a possibility of danger, I wish to be able to push my troops rapidly through Kafiristan instead of being compelled to fight my way through. Secondly, Afghanistan proper is essentially a sterile country of mountains and stones. The valleys of Kafiristan are fertile and well-watered, but owing to the animosity existing for generations between the Afghans and Kafirs they yield no results. This is very detrimental to the Kafirs, who are one of the poorest races in the East.


Jones, supra note 1, at 139 (quoting Letter from Sir T. Salter Pyne dated January 20, 1896).


n52 KAKAR, supra note 51, at xxiv. While the author here uses the word “rifles,” Robertson’s account of the Kafirs only mentions them as being in the possession of antiquated matchlocks or jezails. See generally ROBERTSON, supra note 1.


n53 KAKAR, supra note 51, at xxiv.


n54 1 JETTMAR, supra note 19, at 16.


n55 Id.


n56 Jones, supra note 1, at 119-20 (quoting Translation of a Letter from Hospital Assistant Shah Mir Khan of the Kabul Agency to the Secretary to the Government of India, Foreign Department (Dec. 14, 1895)).


n57 Hermann Wagner & Alexander Supan, Petermanns Mitteilungen aus J. Perthes’ Geographischer Anstalt, 22 ERGANZUNGSHEFT NR. 101, at 72 (1892).


n58 KAKAR, supra note 51, at 63 (footnotes omitted).


n59 See, e.g., id. at xxiv. (“Compared with rebellious Muslim tribes the defeated Kafirs were treated mildly . . . .”).


n60 See generally A Missionary, The Amir’s Paen, The Mitai Valley and Kafirs, 2 IMPERIAL AND ASIATIC Q. REV. & ORIENTAL & COLONIAL REC., 278-90 (3d series).


n61 G. W. Leitner, Dardistan in 1895, 10 IMPERIAL AND ASIATIC Q. REV. & ORIENTAL & COLONIAL REC. 24-48 (2d Working Series 1896).


n62 See, e.g., Jones, supra note 1, at 183-206.


n63 The Kafirs of the Hindukush, THE TIMES (London), Feb. 11, 1896.




n65 Jones, supra note 1, at 15 (quoting a report dated January 7, 1896 by Sir William Lee-Warner, Secretary in the Political Department, India Office, 1895-1902, on Kafiristan).


n66 Shah, supra note 12, at 69.


n67 Id.


n68 The Kalash capture of Chitral is still commemorated in their seasonal celebrations. LOUDE & LIEVRE, supra note 3, at 21. Exact dates are difficult to discern because “reference to Kalash Rulers at Chitral proper is available only in respect of the last one, named Bulesing, who is said to have been defeated and ousted from Chitral proper by the Rais invaders in 1320 A.D.” Shah, supra note 12, at 70. Loude and Lievre, however, maintain that the Kalash domination of Chitral occurred in the 15th or 16th centuries. LOUDE & LIEVRE, supra note 3, at 21.


n69 LOUDE & LIEVRE, supra note 3, at 21-22. This statement by Loude and Lievre is confusing, since other historical authorities indicate that there was a considerable gap between the defeat of the last Kalash ruler of Chitral proper in 1320, and the last independent Kalash king, Raja Wai, who according to Wazir Ali Shah, was not defeated until 1540. Shah, supra note 12, at 24.


n70 LOUDE & LIEVRE, supra note 3, at 21-22.


n71 Id.


n72 See KAKAR, supra note 51, at 174.


With the inability of the rulers of Afghanistan to wage war against the non-Muslims of India and to obtain slaves as did their predecessors before the nineteenth century, there began a marked shrinkage in the source of slaves, which, in accordance with the Islamic law, were birth in slavery and capture in dar al harb.


Id. The phrase “dar al harb” means “the Land of War,” that is, “traditionally, the term is used to indicate those territories where the faith of Islam does not reign.” ISLAMIC DESK REFERENCE 79 (E. Van Donzel ed., 1994).


n73 LOUDE & LIEVRE, supra note 3, at 22.


n74 Shah, supra note 12, at 71.


n75 Halfdan Siiger, Shamanism Among the Kalash Kafirs of Chitral, 5 FOLK 295, 298 (1963) (noting that complete separation between the Chitralis and Kalash was impossible to maintain because “some Kalash men have annually to go to Chitral City to work for the Mehtar of Chitral”).




n77 LOUDE & LIEVRE, supra note 3, at 22.


n78 ROBERTSON, supra note 1, at 4.


n79 Jones, supra note 1, at 130 (quoting Trans-Frontier Memoranda, Letter No. 4 (Jan. 8, 1896)).


n80 Id. at 125 (quoting Telegram No. 10 from the Resident in Kashmir to the Assistant Political Officer in Chitral (Jan. 3, 1896)).


n81 Id. at 251 (quoting Trans-Frontier Memoranda, Letter No. 101 (July 7, 1897)). The figure cited in this letter referred to the number of Kafir refugees in Chitral at the beginning of June, 1897. However, by the beginning of July, 1897, only 630 Kafir refugees remained in Chitral, while the rest had decided to return to Kafiristan. Id. at 252 (quoting Trans-Frontier Memoranda, Letter No. 119 (August 4, 1897)). This figure of 630 refugees is the last contemporaneous accounting available of the number of Kafir refugees in Chitral.


n82 Id. at 139 (“I do not want to make these people Mahomedans by force . . . . As a follower of the Prophet I cannot make them Mahomedans unless their hearts are so disposed.” (quoting from The Situation in Afghanistan, dated January 20, 1896 in a volume of letters from India)).


n83 Id. at 120.


n84 KAKAR, supra note 51, at 151.


n85 Id.


n86 Id.


n87 Id.


n88 Id.


n89 Id.


n90 A report by Louis Dupree on Nuristan (formerly Kafiristan) published in 1971, however, concluded that “the Nuristani have seen the light of Islam, but only fuzzily practice the true religion, and have incorporated Kafir motifs and mysteries into their brand of Islam.” Dupree, supra note 1, at 19.


n91 ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 201.


n92 Id.


n93 Id. at 202.


n94 Maureen Lines adds the following:


Until Pakistan’s independence in 1947, the Kalash, who for centuries had supplied the royal harem, were virtual slaves to the Mehtar and were subjected to forced labour. In addition, the story goes, they were forbidden to visit the town of Chitral in clean clothes and were required to wear hats with beads and feathers to differentiate them from the Moslems, hence the reason Kalash men still decorate their Chitrali hats.




n95 ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 74.


n96 Id. at 208-09.


n97 Siiger, supra note 16, at 12; see also Halfdan Siiger, Two Indigenous Peoples of the Hindukush-Himalayan Regions, 12 TEMENOS 93, 94 (1976).


n98 See, e.g., Louis Dupree, Introduction to ROBERTSON, supra note 1, at 1 (estimate of 3000-4000). Paolo Graziosi, however, in his 1969 census, found only 1391 Kalash, while in 1955 he had found nearly 2000 Kalash. Paolo Graziosi, The Wooden Statue of Dezalik; A Kalash Divinity, Chitral, Pakistan, 61 MAN 149, 150 n.4 (1961).


n99 LINES, supra note 94, at 196.




n101 Id. at 9-10.


n102 Id. at 10.


n103 Id.


n104 Id. at 10-11.


n105 ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 173.


n106 KHAN & KHAN, supra note 100, at 11.


n107 Id.


n108 ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 173.


n109 KHAN & KHAN, supra note 100, at 1.


n110 Id.


n111 ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 215.


n112 Jean-Yves Loude & Viviane Lievre, Report on the Kalash Culture, reprinted in ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, 273.


n113 Id. at 273.


n114 To take one example, Loude and Lievre present a detailed portrait of the polytheism of the Kalash in LOUDE & LIEVRE, supra note 3, but Maureen Lines notes that “although most anthropologists consider it to be polytheistic because of its many deities, fairies, evil spirits, strange rites and animal sacrifices, the Kalash themselves, according to Saifullah Jan of Rumbur . . . believe in one supreme God — one creator of the universe.” LINES, supra note 94, at 188.


n115 Loude and Lievre elaborate on the nature of the Kalash religion as follows:

The Kalash alone, after being subjected to Moslem proselytism on the one hand and murderous Kafir raids on the other, remained faithful to their polytheistic religion. The names of their gods, by their very etymology, are indicative of a clear link with the Vedic Pantheon . . . . Nevertheless, it would be idle to imagine a descent from the Indo-Aryans in a straight line through the ages, hermetically sealed to outside ideas or innovations, reproducing ideally primitive rites. But without going to such extremes, it is reasonable to attempt a comparison between the ritual gestures of the Kalash, their relationship with the divine, their social organisation, and those initially current among the Indo-Aryans.


LOUDE & LIEVRE, supra note 3, at 15.


n116 Id. at 348.


n117 Id. at 348-56.


n118 Id.


n119 Id. at 354.


n120 See generally id. at 357-59 for an account of the winter Chaumos feast.


n121 Jean-Yves Loude, The Kalash Shamans’ Practice of Exorcism 2-3 (unpublished manuscript prepared for the 2d International Hindu Kush Cultural Conference) (on file with the Indiana Law Journal).


n122 ROBERTSON, supra note 1, at 530.


n123 Viviane Lievre, The Status of Kalash Women in the Religious Sphere 2 (unpublished manuscript prepared for the 2d International Hindu Kush Cultural Conference) (on file with the Indiana Law Journal).


n124 Id. at 2.


n125 Id. One side effect of this ritual seclusion is the prevalence of arthritis among women. Moreover, as Alauddin explains, “During their sojourn to Bashalini, they cannot change their dress or have any bedding to sleep upon . . . . If any one dies there in that polluted condition, the body is not brought home. It is just thrown in the river.” ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 181.


n126 Lievre, supra note 123, at 2.


n127 Id.


n128 Id.


n129 Id.


n130 Id.


n131 LOUDE & LIEVRE, supra note 3, at 52-53 (“A woman cannot achieve glory, but she contributes to its achievement by a man, her husband or her father, depending on circumstances.”).


n132 Lievre, supra note 123, at 3-4.


n133 Id. at 7.


n134 Id.


n135 Id.


n136 Lievre’s alternative explanation for the inferior status of women is that they have been used as scapegoats for the various afflictions of the Kalash:


Kalash society has often been in danger and had to face enemies. . . . Resisting conversion has been a constant battle for them, especially during the wave of forcible conversions imposed on their Kafir neighbors in Afghanistan (presently Nuristan) in 1896. So they felt isolated and encircled by a dominant ideology and religion. As they were willing to preserve their own beliefs and ceremonies, successive shamans have tended to strengthen the inner structure of their vulnerable community. As women are considered to be potentially disruptive, the shamans have restricted their liberty, and increasingly control their activities. Impure, they have been excluded from religious functions and ceremonies; guilty, they have provided convenient scapegoats.


Lievre, supra note 123, at 9. However, this point in turn only begs the question of why women have been made the scapegoats for the various travails of the Kalash.


n137 ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 152-53.


The reluctance to send girls for schooling, by Kalash and Muslims both, is not entirely due to the absence of separate schools for girls everywhere. The statements in fact appear to be half-truths. In the entire country, there is a lack of emphasis upon female education. In the rural areas particularly, the collective conservatism on this point is being diluted only at a snail’s pace. Moreover, there is a persistent emphasis upon segregation of girls in educational institutions. Among the rural working class, this emphasis is not understandable as the major part of out-door work is performed by women who obviously are not segregated. . . . An over-emphasis upon duplication of schools, for males and females separately, at this stage of educational development, can only be interpreted as a cunning device to protect collective conservatism against educating the girls.




n138 Id. at 156 (describing “prevalent practice of wife bashing”).


n139 Id. at 159.


A Kalash widow does not inherit anything as the inheritance is purely patrilineal and confined only to the male heirs. Abdul Khaliq explains that a widow had no claim to any part of her deceased husband’s property but she can live in the house and enjoy full rights of maintenance till [sic] she chooses to re marry[sic], which she can, after the husband’s final funerary feast about a year after his death. This choice is seldom exercised if she is no more considered to be young or if she has children to look after and take pride in looking after them. This is comparable to the codified Hindu Law in Pakistan and India, according to which a Hindu widow has full claims, alongwith others, on the property in the joint family for her lifetime. Only she cannot claim division of her share. She has no right to alienate any such property or any portion of such property through sale, gift or will or any other process.




n140 See, e.g., Lievre, supra note 123, at 2.


n141 While I have yet to get any detailed reports of incidents involving tourists and Kalash women, all scholars who deal with the present day situation of the Kalash refer to it. See, e.g., Loude & Lievre, supra note 112, at 274 (noting that “some drastic measures must be taken in order to stop the waves of local muslim tourists chasing Kalash women, pinching them in the dark, forcing them to be photographed”).


n142 See, e.g., Salman Rashid, Where the Yarkhun is Young, NATION FILES, Dec. 17, 1987, which relates the following story:

Two young men from Peshawar who had ridden with me from Ayun and who in the beginning had been rather evasive about the reason of their excursion eventually confided they had heard of Kafir promiscuity and had come to Bumboret with the hope of “verifying” these rumours. For two days they promenaded up and down the valley doped to their eyeballs on hashish (I was cordially invited to join their nocturnal binges). On the third day they made a rather disparaging report on Kafir prudery and left quite disappointed.


See also Stuart Fraser, Kalash Kafirs: Under External Cultural Pressure, NATION FILES, May 31, 1988 (mentioning myth of supposed availability of Kalash women).


n143 Robert Adams, Princess Flies into Tribal Row, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (London), Sept. 22, 1991, at 3.


n144 Rashid, supra note 142 (“A stage has now been reached where the first sight of a camera prompts a toneless, ‘das rupiah.'”). The offer to dance in exchange for cash is, however, not a new development. In 1970, a traveler noted that


visitors are naturally anxious to see and photograph the Birir Kalash and the curious shuffling dance common to most of the Kafirs. The women of Birir have been quick to exploit this pleasant and effortless source of revenue, for they are now ready to appear automatically and dance to order at the rate of one rupee each.




n145 Adams, supra note 143, at 3 (quoting Saifullah Jan, Chitral council member), available in LEXIS, News Library, ARCNWS File.


n146 Id.


n147 Id.


n148 M. Shakil Durrani, Kalash Kafirs — The Urgent Need to Save a Vanishing People, reprinted in ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 283, 286.


n149 See supra text at notes 22-24, 74-78.


n150 The impact of monotheism is most clearly seen in the way that the Kalash have reoriented their religion from pantheism towards a pseudo-monotheism in which the role of the creator god, Dezau, is emphasized. As such, the Kalash have stopped referring to their most prominent divinity as Dezau, and instead now refer to him as “Khodai” which is a word of Persian origin and is used by Muslims to refer to Allah. Other signs of “creeping Islamization” include the discovery in the 1950s of a “holy book” written on birch bark and a growing practice of Kalash pilgrimages to the tombs of Muslim saints asking for intercessionary help. See, e.g., Loude, supra note 121, at 10-11, which explains:


The increase in mental disorders such as nervous breakdown, hysteria and apathy is typical of these recent confusing decades. Formerly, the Kalash used to explain it as the kidnapping of half the soul by angry fairies. Today, the Kalash healers confess that they are powerless to cure madness. Therefore, the Kalash are begging for new therapeutics outside the society. They now go and visit the Muslim ziarat where holy men have been buried and where some perikhan used to perform as exorcists. The Kalash have recourse to Muslim exorcists because they think that foreign evil has to be overcome by foreign healers who know better about the source of the impurity. The main consequence of this new credit being given to their neighbor’s literate healers is the loss of influence of the Kalash’s literate ones. Nowadays, this new attraction from the Chitrali world is one of many reasons for the vanishing of the shaman’s vocation.



n151 ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 216-17.


n152 Id. at 229-30.


Working on a low budget, the school-teachers who were drawing their salaries regularly, are paid a little extra to promote missionary work while on official duty. This turns the schools into missionary centers, at no great cost.

This has been responsible for the withdrawal syndrome of the Kalash youngsters from the local schools. Compulsory teaching of Islamic studies (which is not prescribed by the State for non-muslims), slanderous remarks against Kalash religion, Kalash boys and girls, and blackmail while awarding marks in the final test, are enough to scare the Kalash students and their guardians from the houses of education established and being paid for by the State.




n153 Durrani, supra note 148, at 285; see also ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 230 (“There is one subject that is compulsory for every student. One cannot be promoted to the next class unless he passes that subject. By learning that subject, one becomes a Muslim.”).


n154 ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 231.


n155 Durrani, supra note 148, at 285.


n156 One story recounted by Loude and Lievre is of a prominent Kalash elder who was induced to convert in the following manner after being struck down with serious illness:


The Islamic doctors surrounding him during his illness, had told him that hell really existed and that all pagans would go there to be burned and tortured however good they had been in their lifetime. The sick man had been greatly affected by this, and had panicked; no one had said such things before. The mullahs had added that conversion would cure him and save him. Terrified by the prospect of hell, which gave death a hitherto unsuspected visage of horror, he had promised to change his religion.

It so happened that he had recovered. The mullahs had seen to it that he carried out his promise; there must be no question of back-sliding, since he would at once lose the life he had just regained.


LOUDE & LIEVRE, supra note 3, at 108.


n157 ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 33; see also Fraser, supra note 142 (confirming that Kalash men convert to avoid repaying loans).


n158 Durrani, supra note 148, at 286-87.




n160 Id. at 29.


n161 Id. The reason forced conversions are such a serious problem is because apostasy, the reversion of a convert to his old faith, is punishable by death under Islamic law. An example is the death sentence pronounced on Salman Rushdie by Ayatollah Khomeini. As one Kalash remarked:

“Why do I call conversion a death? It is because when a Kalash converts to Islam, he has no choice to become Kalash again. Though there are some converts who wished to come out of Islam. They were threatened to death by the muslims. Therefore, after becoming muslim, a Kalash convert has no choice but to remain muslim or die. There was an incidence of such a death of a Kalash female in our Valley.”


ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 224.


n162 Loude & Lievre, supra note 112, at 1.


n163 ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 32.


n164 Id.


n165 Id. at 32-33.


n166 Id. A survey of land transactions confirms this point. Out of the total transactions involving the Kalash, 134 involved the sale of land, while only 18 involved the purchase of land. By comparison, 116 Muslim transactions were for the purchase of land, with only 67 for the sale of land. As of 1986, Muslims owned 9270 canals of land while the Kalash owned merely 4969. Id. at 111.


n167 Id. at 34. Shakil Durrani gives one explanation as to why this happens:

The Kalash find it virtually impossible to get even low paid jobs in his own area; in local schools and dispensaries situated right in his territory; he is not even recruited for the menial jobs of Behishti (watercarrier), Chowkidar (Security Man) or an office orderly. Un-like [sic] the other Chitralis he is too poor, too uneducated, too un connected [sic] and too subdued to find himself a job in the Gulf States or even in the developing districts. The only option he has[] is to work on his lands or shepherd his goats which barely ensures him a subsistence living with no promise for improvement.


Durrani, supra note 148, at 284.


n168 ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 57.


n169 See, e.g., LINES, supra note 94, at 183 (noting loss of land due to flooding).


n170 Maureen Lines, Disappearing Kalash, Disappearing Forests, NATION FILES, Jan. 25, 1990.


n171 Although this may sound like damning the Pakistani government with faint praise, it is not; other minorities in Pakistan, such as Hindus, Christians, and Ahmedis, have certainly been more institutionally oppressed than the Kalash.


n172 ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 24-25. In 1991, the chief administrator of the District established a “Kalash Foundation” which essentially consists of the most prominent bureaucrats with responsibility for the Kalash, legislative representatives of the Kalash at both the national and the district level, and two Kalash members. There is no comparable body for any other minority group in Pakistan. However, this foundation was the brainchild of Mr. Shakil Durrani, then Commissioner of the Malakand division and the former Deputy Commissioner of Chitral. At last word, he had been transferred to some other position in the North West Frontier Province (“NWFP”) bureaucracy and it is not clear how well the Foundation has continued to function in his absence.


n173 ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 24; see also LINES, supra note 94, at 183 (noting that government has given money to the Kalash to build “three new water channels in each of the three valleys, thereby increasing the arable land of each valley to approximately 10,000 acres,” and that “the government is also financing the laying of water pipes so that each village will have safe, fresh spring water on tap”).


n174 A list of such expenditures is presented in ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 26-27.


n175 Id. at 33.


n176 Id. at 238.


n177 LINES, supra note 94, at 191.


n178 Lines, supra note 170.


n179 ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 232.


n180 LINES, supra note 94, at 182.


n181 Loude & Lievre, supra note 112, at 278.


n182 ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 202.


n183 Id. at 213.


n184 Lines, supra note 170.


n185 Resolutions of Kalasha Research Co-operative Concerning Environmental Problems in the Kalash Valleys of Chitral at the Second International Hindukush Cultural Conference, Resolution 3(a) (Sept. 19-23, 1990), reprinted in ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 269 app. C.


n186 Id. at 269.


n187 ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 33.


n188 Id. The details as narrated to Alauddin by the Kalash are as follows:

“Some young men left the valley and went to the cities of Pakistan to earn enough to redeem the mortgage made by their fathers and grandfathers. . . . They had to spend many years away from home. In a few cases, they were successful in getting their trees and land back. Some were unable either because the money demanded by the mortgage was very high or the mortgagee threatened to kill the mortgagor or the male members of his family. There were two such cases in Birir Valley. In one, the mortgager was killed and in the other, he was kidnapped and never came back home. . . . The mortgagees are muslim and mostly from Ayun.”

. . . .

“[The] Govt. should directly arrange to get our mortgaged trees, land and pastures back from the outsiders. It will save us from risking our lives in the process.”


Id. at 223.


n189 Id.


n190 Id. at 197.


n191 Id. at 51.


n192 FRANCISCO DE VITORIA, DE INDIS ET DE IVRE BELLI RELECTIONES 127-28 (1964) (J. Bate trans., 1917); see also Maureen Davies, Aspects of Aboriginal Rights in International Law, in ABORIGINAL PEOPLES AND THE LAW 16, 20-23 (Bradford W. Morse ed., 1985); Douglas Sanders, The Re-emergence of Indigenous Questions in International Law, 1983 CAN. HUM. RTS. Y.B. 3, 4-5.


n193 DE VITORIA, supra note 192, at 27-28.




n195 HUGO GROTIUS, THE FREEDOM OF THE SEAS 13, 16-18, 21 (Ralph D. Magoffin trans., 1916); see also 2 HUGO GROTIUS, DE JURE BELLI AC PACIS LIBRI TRES 550 (Francis W. Kelsey trans., 1925) (“Equally shameless is it to claim for oneself by right of discovery what is held by another, even though the occupant may be wicked, may hold wrong views about God, or may be dull of wit. For discovery applies to those things which belong to no one.”).


n196 S. James Anaya, The Rights of Indigenous Peoples and International Law in Historical and Contemporary Perspective, 1989 HARVARD INDIAN LAW SYMPOSIUM 191, 204. This article by Anaya generally provides the most complete exposition of the development of international law with regard to the treatment and rights of indigenous peoples.


n197 See, e.g., JOHN WESTLAKE, CHAPTERS ON THE PRINCIPLES OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 141-43 (1894), quoted in Anaya, supra note 196, at 205.


When People of the European race come into contact with American or African tribes, the prime necessity is a government under the protection of which the former may carry on the complex life to which they have been accustomed in their homes, which may prevent that life from being disturbed by contests by different European powers for supremacy on the same soil, and which may protect the natives in the enjoyment of a security and well-being at least not less than they enjoyed before the arrival of the strangers. Can the natives furnish such a government, or can it be looked for from the Europeans alone? In the answer to that question lies, for international law, the difference between civilization and want of it. . . . The inflow of the white race cannot be stopped where there is land to cultivate, ore to be mined, commerce to be developed, sport to enjoy, curiosity to be satisfied. If any fanatical admirer of savage life argued that the whites ought to be kept out, he would only be driven to the same conclusion by another route, for a government on the spot would be necessary to keep them out. Accordingly international law has to treat such natives as uncivilised.




n198 See, e.g., MARK F. LINDLEY, THE ACQUISITION AND GOVERNMENT OF BACKWARD TERRITORY IN INTERNATIONAL LAW 20 (1926). Lindley himself takes a fairly sympathetic position with respect to the rights of indigenous peoples, but in analyzing the general consensus of publicists, he admits that his position is in a minority:


Extending over some three and a half centuries, there had been a persistent preponderance of juristic opinion in favour of the proposition that lands in the possession of any backward peoples who are politically organized ought not to be regarded as if they belonged to no one. But that, and especially in comparatively modern times, a different doctrine has been contended for and has numbered among its exponents some well-known authorities; a doctrine which denies that International Law recognizes any rights in primitive peoples to the territory they inhabit, and, in its most advanced form, demands that such peoples shall have progressed so far in civilization as to have become recognized as members of the Family of Nations before they can be allowed such rights.




n199 Cayuga Indians (Gr. Brit. v. U.S.), 6 R.I.A.A. 173, 176 (1926); Island of Las Palmas Case (Neth. v. U.S.), 2 R.I.A.A. 829, 858 (1928) (referring to “native princes or chiefs of peoples not recognized as members of the community of nations”).


n200 See, for example, the following explanation put forward by one scholar as to why international law did not apply to indigenous peoples:


It is scarcely necessary to point out that as international law is a product of the special civilisation of modern Europe, and forms a highly artificial system of which the principles cannot be supposed to be understood or recognised by countries differently civilised, such states only can be presumed to be subject to it as are inheritors of that civilisation.


WILLIAM E. HALLS, A TREATISE ON INTERNATIONAL LAW 47 (A. Pearce Higgins ed., 8th ed. 1924).


n201 Anaya, supra note 196, at 209.


n202 Hurst Hannum, Contemporary Developments in the International Protection of the Rights of Minorities, 66 NOTRE DAME L. REV. 1431 (1991).




n204 For a detailed examination of treaties dealing with minorities, see generally JAY A. SIGLER, MINORITY RIGHTS (1983).


n205 Hannum, supra note 202, at 1431.




n207 Hannum, supra note 202, at 1432. These treaties can be divided into three groups. The first group included those which were dictated by the victorious allied powers to the defeated Axis forces, such as the treaties with Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey. The second group included “either new states created out of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire or states whose boundaries were altered specifically to what President Wilson referred to as ‘self-determination.'” This group included Czechoslovakia, Greece, Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia. In addition, special measures relating to minorities were included in the final political settlements relating to Aland, Danzig, the Memel Territory, and Upper Silesia. Id.


n208 James Crawford, The Rights of Peoples: Some Conclusions, in THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLES 159, 161 (James Crawford ed., 1988).


n209 Hannum, supra note 202, at 1434 (footnote omitted).


n210 THORNBERRY, supra note 206, at 113.


n211 Id.


n212 Id.


n213 Adeno Addis, Individualism, Communitarianism, and the Rights of Ethnic Minorities, 66 NOTRE DAME L. REV. 1219, 1241 (1991).


n214 THORNBERRY, supra note 206, at 134 (quoting U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/SR.52 P 9).


n215 Id.


n216 Id. at 134-35.


n217 Id. at 137.


n218 PATRICK THORNBERRY, MINORITIES AND HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 5 (1987) (quoting United Nations Covenants on Human Rights).


n219 Hannum, supra note 202, at 1434-35.


n220 Asbjorn Eide, Minority Situations: In Search of Peaceful and Constructive Solutions, 66 NOTRE DAME L. REV. 1311, 1319 (1991).


n221 Andras B. Baka, The European Convention on Human Rights and the Protection of Minorities Under International Law, 8 CONN. J. INT’L L. 227, 230-31 (1993) (alteration in original) (quoting Robert G. Wirsing, The United States and the International Protection of Minorities, in THE DYNAMICS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN U.S. FOREIGN POLICY 157, 165 (Natalie K. Hevener ed., 1981)).


n222 Crawford, supra note 208, at 161.


n223 Hannum, supra note 202, at 1444. Hannum goes on to note: “It requires only two pages of a 350-page report on the United Nations human rights activities to describe the United Nation’s [sic] work in the area of minority rights (apart from questions of discrimination).” Id. at 1435 n.15 (citing UNITED NATIONS ACTION IN THE FIELD OF HUMAN RIGHTS at 243-45, U.N. Doc. ST/HR/2/Rev.3, U.N. Sales No. E.88.XIV.2 (1988)).


n224 Anaya, supra note 196, at 214-15 (“U.N. practice has resulted in the preponderant view that self-determination means a legal right of independent statehood for territories under rule by overseas colonial powers, regardless of the doctrinal bases of sovereignty claimed by the foreign powers over the territories.”).


n225 See, e.g., John H. Clinebell & Jim Thomson, Sovereignty and Self-Determination: The Rights of Native Americans Under International Law, 27 BUFF. L. REV. 669, 673 (1978) (identifying minimum requirements for statehood under Article I of the Montevideo Convention: “a permanent population, a defined territory, an effective government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other states”).


n226 Raidza Torres, The Rights of Indigenous Populations: The Emerging International Norm, 16 YALE J. INT’L L. 127, 142 (1991).


n227 See James Crawford, The Rights of People: ‘Peoples’ or ‘Governments’?, in THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLES, supra note 208, at 55, 59 n.7 (“The requirement of intent has led to arguments that the disappearance of indigenous groups as a more or less direct effect of government policies is not genocide because unintended . . . .”); Lawrence J. LeBlanc, The Intent to Destroy Groups in the Genocide Convention: The Proposed U.S. Understanding, 78 AM. J. INT’L L. 369 (1984).


n228 Hurst Hannum argues that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination also counts as a “positive conventional obligation.” Hannum, supra note 202, at 1444.


n229 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted Dec. 19, 1966, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, 179 [hereinafter ICCPR].


n230 THORNBERRY, supra note 206, at 142.


n231 ICCPR, supra note 229, 999 U.N.T.S. at 179.


n232 U.N. GAOR 275 (III), 3d Sess. 1949, at 19, U.N. Doc. A/900 (1949).


n233 Russel L. Barsh, Indigenous Peoples: An Emerging Object of International Law, 80 AM. J. INT’L L. 369, 370 (1986), quoted in NATAN LERNER, GROUP RIGHTS AND DISCRIMINATION IN INTERNATIONAL LAW 103 (1990).


n234 See LERNER, supra note 233, at 105; see also HURST HANNUM, AUTONOMY, SOVEREIGNTY, AND SELF-DETERMINATION: THE ACCOMMODATION OF CONFLICTING RIGHTS 77 (1990). These Conventions included the Convention Concerning the Regulation of Written Contracts of Employment of Indigenous Workers, June 27, 1939, 40 U.N.T.S. 281; the Convention Concerning Penal Sanctions for Breaches of Contract, June 27, 1939, 40 U.N.T.S. 311; the Convention Concerning the Regulation of Certain Special Systems of Recruiting Workers, June 20, 1936, 40 U.N.T.S. 109; the Convention Concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour, June 28, 1930, 39 U.N.T.S. 55. A study on the living conditions of indigenous and tribal peoples was also published in 1953. ILO, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES: LIVING AND WORKING CONDITIONS OF ABORIGINAL POPULATIONS IN INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES (1953).


n235 Convention (No. 107) Concerning the Protection and Integration of Indigenous and Other Tribal and Semi-Tribal Populations in Independent Countries, adopted June 26, 1957, 328 U.N.T.S. 247 [hereinafter Convention No. 107]; see also Recommendation No. 104: Recommendation Concerning the Protection and Integration of Indigenous and Other Tribal and Semi-Tribal Populations in Independent Countries, in ILO, CONVENTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ADOPTED BY THE INTERNATIONAL LABOUR CONFERENCE 1919-1966, at 909 (1966).


n236 Article 1(2) defines “semi-tribal” as those “groups and persons who, although they are in the process of losing their tribal characteristics, are not yet integrated into the national community.” Convention No. 107, supra note 235, 328 U.N.T.S. at 250.


n237 Id.


n238 Id.


n239 Id.


n240 Id. at 258.


n241 Id.


n242 Howard Berman, The International Labor Organization and Indigenous Peoples: Revision of ILO Convention No. 107 at the 75th Session of the International Labor Conference, REV. INT’L COMM’N OF JURISTS 41, 48 (1988).


n243 Id.


n244 Convention No. 107, supra note 235, 328 U.N.T.S. at 256.


n245 Id.


n246 Id. at 254.


n247 Andree Lawrey, Contemporary Efforts to Guarantee Indigenous Rights Under International Law, 23 VAND. J. TRANSNAT’L L. 703, 717 (1990); see also id. at 717 n.70 (“‘More than 25 years after its adoption, there is little difference between the countries which are and are not bound by it, and such differences as exist are not always in favour of the States parties to it.'” (quoting JOSE R.M. COBO, UNESCO, COMM’N ON HUMAN RIGHTS, SUB-COMM’N ON PREVENTION OF DISCRIMINATION & PROTECTION OF MINORITIES, STUDY OF THE PROBLEM OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST INDIGENOUS POPULATIONS, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/1986/7/Add.4, U.N. Sales No. E.86.XIV.3 (1987) [hereinafter COBO REPORT 1986]) (alteration in Lawrey)).


n248 THORNBERRY, supra note 206, at 395.


n249 Berman, supra note 242, at 48-49.


n250 See, e.g., S. James Anaya, Indigenous Rights Norms in Contemporary International Law, 8 ARIZ. J. INT’L & COMP. L. 1 (1991); Anaya, supra note 196; Torres, supra note 226, at 155-56 (“The statements and interactions of relevant parties involved in aboriginal questions provide evidence of the emergence of an indigenous norm in the 1980s.”).


n251 Torres, supra note 226, at 156.


n252 Anaya, supra note 196, at 219 (footnote omitted).


n253 Torres, supra note 226, at 159.




n255 Id. at 142 (“Self-determination can take a variety of forms along a spectrum from autonomy in particular subject matters such as cultural concerns, to full political autonomy, in which indigenous populations establish their own governments, design their own political systems, and enforce their own laws.”); see also Anaya, supra note 196, at 219 n.121 (quoting an indigenous representative as stating that self-determination for them meant not statehood, but “‘the right to control our territories, our resources, the organisation of our societies, our own decision-making institutions, and the maintenance of our own cultures and ways of life'”); Dean B. Suagee, Self-Determination for Indigenous Peoples at the Dawn of the Solar Age, 25 U. MICH. J.L. REF. 671, 692-93 (1992) (distinguishing between external self-determination, that is the right to choose to be recognized as an independent state, and internal self-determination, that is the right of autonomous self-government).


n256 Dalee Sambo, Indigenous Peoples and International Standard-Setting Processes: Are State Governments Listening?, 3 TRANSNAT’L L. & CONTEMP. PROBS. 13, 27 (1993) (quoting Discrimination Against Indigenous Peoples; Report of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations on Its Tenth Session, U.N. ESCOR Comm’n on Human Rights, 10th Sess., Annex I, at para. 8, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/1992/33 (1992) [hereinafter Draft Declaration]) (alteration in original).


n257 Anaya, supra note 250, at 15-16.


n258 Id. at 16 (construing ICCPR, supra note 229).


n259 Id. at 17.


n260 Torres, supra note 226, at 133.


n261 Lawrey, supra note 247, at 762.


n262 Torres, supra note 226, at 133 (footnote omitted).


n263 Carol Weisbrod, Minorities and Diversities: The “Remarkable Experiment” of the League of Nations, 8 CONN. J. INT’L L. 359, 376 (1993) (citing Owen M. Fiss, Groups and the Equal Protection Clause, 5 PHIL. & PUB. AFF. 107 (1976)).


n264 Garth Netteim, ‘Peoples’ and ‘Populations’ — Indigenous Peoples and the Rights of Peoples, in THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLES, supra note 208, at 107, 123. Nettheim states:


In essence, the land rights claim is a claim for restitution. It presupposes either that indigenous people remain on their traditional lands or that they can be returned to it. For many indigenous people this is not possible, either because the links with the land have been irrevocably lost or because the land has passed to others. For those who cannot require return of traditional lands other forms must be found by way of restitution, reparation, compensation, or (to use Colin Tatz’s potent analogy) atonement. The basis for such claim is the same as the basis for the primary land rights claim, and is particular to indigenous people. So, too, is a claim for compensation for the effects of dispossession in the past, even for those people who can regain traditional lands.




n265 Lawrey, supra note 247, at 762; see also Robert K. Hitchcock, International Human Rights, the Environment and Indigenous Peoples, 5 COLO. J. INT’L ENVTL. L. & POL’Y 1, 5 (1994) (arguing that because indigenous peoples are found in disproportionate numbers below the poverty line, “the situations faced by indigenous peoples merit significant international attention and remedy”); Torres, supra note 226, at 140 (“Indigenous populations, like other ethnic minority groups, are currently the victims of discrimination and are denied essential goods and rights by their respective states.”). For an example, see S. James Anaya, The Native Hawaiian People and International Human Rights Law: Toward a Remedy for Past and Continuing Wrongs, 28 GA. L. REV. 309, 317 (applying the comparative approach to indigenous Hawaiians and noting that they “comprise the most economically disadvantaged and otherwise ill-ridden sector of the Islands’ population”).


n266 Gillian Triggs, The Rights of ‘Peoples’ and Individual Rights: Conflict or Harmony?, in THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLES, supra note 208, at 141, 147-48 (quoting South West Africa Cases (Second Phase) (Eth. v. S. Afr., Liber. v. S. Afr.), 1966 I.C.J. 6, 305-06 (July 18) (Tanaka, J., dissenting)).


n267 See Lee Swepston & Roger Plant, International Standards and the Protection of the Land Rights of Indigenous and Tribal Populations, 124 INT’L LAB. REV. 91 (1985).


n268 Berman, supra note 242, at 49.


n269 Russel L. Barsh, An Advocate’s Guide to the Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, 15 OKLA. CITY U. L. REV. 209 (1990).


n270 Torres, supra note 226, at 153.


n271 Draft Declaration, supra note 256. The Universal Declaration on Indigenous Rights is still in draft form. However, for this Article’s purposes, it may be noted that the Draft Declaration recognizes among the rights of indigenous peoples: “the collective and individual right to maintain and develop their distinct ethnic and cultural characteristics and identities” (para. 6); “the collective right to protection against genocide” (para. 7); “the right to preserve their cultural identity and traditions and to pursue their own cultural development” (para. 8); and “the right to adequate financial and technical assistance, from states and through international cooperation, to pursue freely their own . . . cultural and spiritual development” (para. 14).


n272 Barsh, supra note 269, at 210 (quoting Convention No. 107).


n273 The revision procedure included the circulation of “a series of formal questionnaires among governments and the establishment of a tripartite drafting committee at both the 1988 and 1989 International Labour Conferences in Geneva.” Id.


n274 Berman, supra note 242, at 49.


n275 Convention Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries (No. 169) (1989), reprinted in Barsh, supra note 269, at 237.


n276 Id.


n277 Id.


n278 Id. at 239.


n279 Id.


n280 Id. at 240.


n281 G.A. Res. 164, U.N. GAOR, 45th Sess., Supp. No. 49, at 277, U.N. Doc. A/Res/45/164 (1990) (proclaiming the International Year of the World’s Indigenous People).


n282 Russel L. Barsh, Indigenous Peoples in the 1990s: From Object to Subject of International Law?, 7 HARV. HUM. RTS. J. 33, 45-48 (1994) (arguing that the principles of indigenous self-determination and cultural integrity were affirmed by the Rio Declaration).


n283 See, e.g., Torres, supra note 226, at 156-57 (declarations of indigenous rights include Resolutions of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Resolutions of the First Congress of Indian Movements of South America, Recommendations of the Fourth Russel Tribunal on the Rights of the Indians of the Americas, and the San Jose Declaration of 1981).


n284 Barsh, supra note 282, at 86.


n285 Crawford, supra note 208, at 159.


n286 Stephen P. Marks, Emerging Human Rights: A New Generation for the 1980s?, 33 RUTGERS L. REV. 435 (1981).


n287 U.O. Umozurike, an African legal scholar, notes:

The right to development . . . appears not to have attained the definitive status of rule of law despite its powerful advocates . . . . The negative duty not to impede the development of States may go down well; the positive duty to aid such development in the absence of specific accords, is a higher level of commitment that still rests on nonlegal considerations.


U.O. Umozurike, The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 77 AM. J. INT’L L. 902, 907 (1983).


n288 Triggs, supra note 266, at 142 (quoting report by the U.S. State Department assessing UNESCO).


n289 Crawford, supra note 208, at 159.


n290 Marshall W. Murphree, Ethnicity and Third World Development: Political and Academic Contexts, in THEORIES OF RACE AND ETHNIC RELATIONS 153, 157 (John Rex & David Mason eds., 1986).


n291 For population figures of minorities, see ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 24.


n292 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, May 23, 1969, art. 34, 1155 U.N.T.S. 331, 341.


n293 Id. art. 38, 1155 U.N.T.S. at 341.


n294 THORNBERRY, supra note 206, at 246.


n295 Yoram Dinstein, Collective Human Rights of Peoples and Minorities, 25 INT’L & COMP. L.Q. 102, 118 (1976).


n296 Anaya, supra note 250, at 15-16.


n297 1 L. OPPENHEIM, INTERNATIONAL LAW 27 (H. Lauterpacht ed., 8th ed. 1955).




n299 Anaya, supra note 250, at 8-9.


n300 Id. at 9.


n301 McDOUGAL ET AL., supra note 298, at 269.


n302 Statute of the International Court of Justice, art. 38(1)(b), 59 Stat. 1055 (1945).


n303 McDOUGAL ET AL., supra note 298, at 269-70.


n304 Id. at 270.


n305 For a more elaborate critique along these same lines, see Philip Alston, Conjuring up New Human Rights: A Proposal for Quality Control, 78 AM. J. INT’L L. 607, 607 n.2 (1984) (“There may be an uncomfortably close parallel between the authority of the [General] Assembly and that asserted in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland by the Red Queen who majestically proclaimed that ‘words mean what I say they mean.'”).


n306 THORNBERRY, supra note 206, at 242 (“The clearest case of a treaty claiming to generate rules of customary law is where the text or the travaux preparatoires contain statements that the treaty is declaratory of [international law] . . . .”).


n307 Id. at 243.


n308 Id. at 243-44.


n309 Id. at 245. France’s reservation to Article 27 declared: “‘In the light of Article 2 of the Constitution of the French Republic, the French Government declares that Article 27 is not applicable so far as the Republic is concerned.'” Id. Since Article 2 is only a nondiscrimination principle, Thornberry concludes that “one is inclined, therefore, to take the French reservation for what it is, a negative view of Article 27, and further evidence that it is not a universal right.” Id.


n310 Id. at 246. Anaya reaches a different conclusion from Thornberry based upon U.N. resolutions and several recent decisions by certain tribunals that Article 27 not only constitutes customary international law, but that it also imposes affirmative obligations upon all states. A closer analysis of the relevant decisions, however, shows that the tribunals did not rely on Article 27 as a binding source of obligations on a nonsignatory (in this case Brazil), but rather relied on Brazilian legislation to justify the decision in favor of affirmative obligations to protect the Yanomami. Peripheral dicta of this sort can hardly form the base of binding obligations on state parties, especially if one, in contrast to Anaya, adopts a realistic view of customary international law. As Thirlway notes in his treatise, “opinio necessitates in the early stages is sufficient to create a rule of law, but [the rule’s] continued existence is dependent on subsequent practice accompanied by opinion juris, failing which the new-born rule will prove a sickly infant and fail to survive for long.” H.W.A. THIRLWAY, INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMARY LAW AND CODIFICATION 56 (1972). This necessary state practice has yet to occur.


n311 See, e.g., Declaration of the Principles of International Co-operation, UNESCO’s Standard-Setting Instruments (U.N. Economic, Scientific & Cultural Organization) IV.C.1 (Nov. 4, 1966) (proclaiming in Art. I. 1 that “each culture has a dignity and value which must be respected and preserved”).


n312 Ominayak & Lubican Lake Band v. Canada, in Annual Report of the Human Rights Committee 1990, U.N. Doc. A/45/40, vol. II, app. A. (1990). The case is analyzed and discussed in Dominic McGoldrick, Canadian Indians, Cultural Rights and the Human Rights Committee, 40 INT’L & COMP. L.Q. 658 (1991).


n313 Yanomami Case, Case 7615, Inter-Am. C.H.R. 24, OEA/ser. L./V/II.66, doc. 10 rev. 1 (1985) [hereinafter Yanomami Case]; Inter-American Comm’n Human Rights, Report on the Situation of Human Rights of a Segment of the Nicaraguan Population of Miskito Origin, OEA/ser. 4V/II.62, doc. 10 rev. 3 (1983); Resolution on the Friendly Settlement Procedure Regarding the Human Rights Situation of a Segment of the Nicaraguan Population of Miskito Origin, OEA/ser. L/V/II.62, doc. 26 (1984).


n314 See, e.g., Yanomami Case, supra note 313, at 27-31. At the same time, the Commission did clearly declare that, “for historical reasons and because of moral and humanitarian principles, special protection for indigenous peoples constitutes a sacred commitment of states.” The Commission elaborated:


International law in its present state, and as it is found clearly expressed in Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, recognizes the right of ethnic groups to special protection on their use of their own language, for the practice of their own religion, and, in general, for all those characteristics necessary for the preservation of their cultural identity.


Id. at 31.


n315 THORNBERRY, supra note 218, at 7 (emphasis in original).


n316 CAPOTORTI, supra note 203, Add. 2, para. 213.


n317 Id. Add. 2, para. 217. Capotorti has also argued:


[The] raison d’etre of Article 27 is the need to make, for the benefit of minorities, special provision which is capable of ensuring that they receive genuinely equal treatment compared with the other inhabitants of the State, and this calls for a number of specific protective measures over and above the treatment guaranteed, without distinction, to all. If the intention had been to restrict the protection of members of minorities to the enjoyment of certain freedoms, this would not have required a special clause.


Francesco Capotorti, The Protection of Minorities Under Multilateral Agreements on Human Rights, in MINORITIES IN NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL LAWS 218, 237 (Satish Chandra ed., 1985).


n318 THORNBERRY, supra note 206, at 181.


n319 Capotorti, supra note 317, at 237.


n320 THORNBERRY, supra note 206, at 181.


n321 Christian Tomuschat, Status of Minorities Under Article 27 of the U.N. Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in MINORITIES IN NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL LAWS, supra note 317, at 31, 49 (footnote omitted).


n322 As Tomuschat explains:


Above all, one has to bear in mind that, as one of the components of the CCPR, Art. 27 is designed to find world-wide application. Thus, account has to be taken of the specific problems of Third World countries. As far as Africa is concerned, it has been reported, for instance, that in Nigeria not less than 250 native languages exist. It is simply unrealistic to assume that the competent public authorities could take affirmative action for the benefit of all those linguistic communities. On the other hand, there is no obstacle of any kind which would prevent authorities from tolerating the use of those languages and their manifold dialects. The same is true of the cultural life of the different communities. Stretching the scope of Art. 27 to encompass positive obligations could lead in the last analysis to an outright breakdown of its guiding value and hence to a total loss of credibility. Art. 27 will be more effective if it is restricted to a hard core of obligations easily to be complied with.


Id. at 49 (footnote omitted).


n323 Minority Schools in Albania, 1935 P.C.I.J. (ser. A/B) No. 64 (Apr. 6).


n324 Id. at 13-14.


n325 Id. at 15.


n326 Id. at 17.


n327 See, e.g., ICCPR, supra note 229, art. 6.1, 999 U.N.T.S. at 174 (mandating that no one be arbitrarily deprived of life); id. art. 7, 999 U.N.T.S. at 175 (prohibiting torture); id. art 8.1, 999 U.N.T.S. at 175 (prohibiting slavery).


n328 Jacob Robinson, International Protection of Minorities: A Global View, 1 ISR. Y.B. HUM. RTS. 61, 89 (1971) (stating that Article 27 represents a “classic example of restrictive toleration of minorities”).


n329 THORNBERRY, supra note 206, at 179 (“The suggestion of a limitation on the State’s obligations towards minorities is borne out to a large extent by the travaux preparatoires.”); Tomuschat, supra note 321, at 48 (“It should be noted . . . that the negative formulation was chosen deliberately.”). In the Third Committee of the General Assembly, the delegate of Mexico argued that the article should be drafted in a positive and not a negative way because it “was not sufficient that minorities should merely ‘not be denied’ certain rights; they should be given special protection since they often needed it.” THORNBERRY, supra note 206, at 179 (quoting record of U.N. debates on Article 27). Moreover, “the total drafting record of the Covenant reveals that suggestions and amendments more demanding of State action to support minorities were rejected.” Id. For example, a proposal by the former USSR suggesting that “the State shall insure to national minorities the right to use their native tongue and to possess their national schools, libraries, museums and other cultural and educational institutions” was rejected as placing too onerous a burden on states. Report of the Ninth Session of the Commission on Human Rights, U.N. ESCOR 16 Sess., Supp. No. 8, Annex III, at 55, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/L.222 (1953), quoted in Tomuschat, supra note 321, at 48. A similar draft article presented by Yugoslavia was also withdrawn. THORNBERRY, supra note 206, at 179.


n330 Tomuschat, supra note 321, at 49; see also SIGLER, supra note 204, at 79 (“The Covenant represents a minimalist version of minority rights. Minority rights are not promoted by such a provision. Minorities are not given special economic, social, or political advantages, nor is their position made secure against majority culture, language, or religion.”); Antony Anghie, Human Rights and Cultural Identity: New Hope for Ethnic Peace?, 33 HARV. INT’L L.J. 341, 344 (1992) (“It is now established that Article 27 only requires the state to desist from interfering with minorities wishing to practice their own culture. The state is not legally obliged to actively support minority cultures.”); Dinstein, supra note 295, at 118 (“[Article 27 is] declaratory in nature and reflects a minimum of rights recognized by customary international law. The fundamental concept, once more, is that of prevention of forced assimilation (a ‘melting-pot’) and preservation of the separate identity of the minority.”); Joseph B. Kelly, National Minorities in International Law, 3 DENV. J. INT’L L. & POL’Y 253, 270 (1973) (“At the most, international law currently gives minority groups the right to be tolerated.”).


n331 Suagee, supra note 255, at 680 n.22 (quoting Robert A. Williams, Jr., Encounters on the Frontiers of International Human Rights Law: Redefining the Terms of Indigenous Peoples’ Survival in the World, 1990 DUKE L.J. 660, 663 n.4).


n332 Nettheim, supra note 264, at 112-13.


n333 Barsh, supra note 269, at 217. Convention No. 169 has also been applied in practice to tribal peoples in India despite the contention by the Indian government that the Convention only applied to people who could show possession of the land from time immemorial. Id. at 212.




n335 Anaya, supra note 250, at 4.


n336 Williams, supra, note 331, at 663 n.4.


n337 See, e.g., KHAN & KHAN, supra note 100, at 16-20 (reporting statistical analysis of general demographic characteristics of Gilgit, Chitral, and Baltistan).


n338 Amja Waheed, Deteriorating Economic Conditions of Pakistan, ECON. REV., Feb. 1993, at 11, available in LEXIS, NEWS Library, ARCNWS File.


n339 Shada Islam, Supply and Demands: Donors Keep the Pressure on South Asia, FAR EASTERN ECON. REV., May 11, 1995, at 69, available in WESTLAW, All News Plus Database; Alistair Lyon, World Bank: Pakistan Faces Massive Challenges, J. COM., May 23, 1995, available in WESTLAW, All News Plus Database.


n340 ALAUDDIN, supra note 76, at 106.


n341 THORNBERRY, supra note 206, at 141.


n342 See, e.g., WOMEN OF PAKISTAN: TWO STEPS FORWARD, ONE STEP BACK? 57-60, 105 (Khawar Mumtaz & Farida Shaheed eds., 1987).


n343 Mary A. Weaver, Our Far Flung Correspondents: Hunting with the Sheikhs, NEW YORKER, Dec. 14, 1992, at 51.


n344 LOUDE & LIEVRE, supra note 3, at 6.


n345 Consider, for example, the statement made by Austrian President Alois Mock who remarked at the World Conference on Human Rights: “We know that the indigenous peoples who live in the most fragile environments of our world, possess the key for future survival.” Mme. Rigoberta Menchu Tum Propose la Creation D’un Haut Commissariat Pour les Populations Autochtones, U.N. PRESS RELEASE, No. DH/V/406 (U.N., New York, NY), June 21, 1993, at 2, quoted in Barsh, supra note 282, at 44 n.44; see also Hitchcock, supra note 265, at 14-20 (discussing interrelationship between protection of indigenous peoples and protection of the environment); Thomas S. O’Connor, Comment, “We Are Part of Nature”: Indigenous Peoples’ Rights as a Basis for Environmental Protection in the Amazon Basin, 5 COLO. J. INT’L ENVTL. L. & POL’Y 193, 203 (1994) (noting that recent recognition of indigenous rights is tied to awareness “by outsiders of the enormous wealth of knowledge possessed by indigenous peoples about their environment; knowledge that is lost when their cultures, languages, and ways of life are destroyed”).


n346 Robert A. Williams, Jr., Discussant for the Session: “Human Behavior and Global Change”, 9 ARIZ. J. INT’L & COMP. L. 199, 202 (1992). A more elaborate critique of the portrayal of indigenous peoples in the international legal literature is presented by Chris Tennant who argues that “the figure of the noble primitive, by locating a utopian alternative to modernity, supports critiques of the modern relationship with the environment, of modern individualism and alienation, and of the contemporary global order.” Chris Tennant, Indigenous Peoples, International Institutions, and the International Legal Literature from 1945-1993, 16 HUM. RTS. Q. 1, 10-11 (1994).


n347 David Makinson, Rights of Peoples: Point of View of a Logician, in THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLES, supra note 208, at 69, 82.


n348 Clinebell & Thomson, supra note 225, at 673-76.


n349 Suagee, supra note 255, at 692.


n350 Lawrey, supra note 247, at 707 (“One collective right is that of all individuals to self-determination, but its application outside the context of decolonization remains highly problematic, with no accepted application to indigenous peoples.” (footnote omitted)).


n351 Hannum, supra note 202, at 1457.


n352 Makinson, supra note 347, at 82.


n353 Torres, supra note 226, at 142.


n354 Anaya, supra note 196, at 219 n.121 (quoting statement made during the 75th Session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva by a representative of the National Coalition of Aboriginal Organisations).


n355 Lea Brilmayer, Secession and Self-Determination: A Territorial Interpretation, 16 YALE J. INT’L L. 177, 179 (1991).


n356 See, e.g., Anaya, supra note 265, at 326 (distinguishing between the constitutive and ongoing aspects of self-determination); Suagee, supra note 255, at 692-93 (discussing internal and external self-determination).




n358 Crawford, supra note 227, at 55. The idea of obligating the state with respect to indigenous populations is not new. In fact, a 1988 U.N. report noted: “What indigenous self-determination requires is the recognition of a duty by States to make structural accommodations and to secure entitlements for the indigenous peoples within their borders in order that each may continue its unique existence according to its desires.” DISCRIMINATION AGAINST INDIGENOUS PEOPLES: ANALYTICAL COMPILATION OF OBSERVATIONS AND COMMENTS RECEIVED PURSUANT TO SUB-COMMISSION RESOLUTION 1988/18, at 14, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/sub.2/33/Add. 1 (1989), quoted in Lawrey, supra note 247, at 763 n.345. Self-determination, by its very nature as a right, obligates states to make structural adjustments.


n359 Anaya, supra note 196, at 219.


n360 THORNBERRY, supra note 206, at 141.


n361 Will Kymlicka, Liberalism, Individualism, and Minority Rights, in LAW AND THE COMMUNITY 181, 198 (Allan C. Hutchinson & Leslie J.M. Green eds., 1989).


n362 Durrani, supra note 148, at 283.