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Pakistan's Experience with Formal Law
An Alien Justice


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Part of Cambridge Studies in Law and Society

  • Date Published: June 2013
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107038158

£ 79.99

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About the Authors
  • Law reform in Pakistan attracts such disparate champions as the Chief Justice of Pakistan, the USAID and the Taliban. Common to their equally obsessive pursuit of 'speedy justice' is a remarkable obliviousness to the historical, institutional and sociological factors that alienate Pakistanis from their formal legal system. This pioneering book highlights vital and widely neglected linkages between the 'narratives of colonial displacement' resonant in the literature on South Asia's encounter with colonial law and the region's postcolonial official law reform discourses. Against this backdrop, it presents a typology of Pakistani approaches to law reform and critically evaluates the IFI-funded single-minded pursuit of 'efficiency' during the last decade. Employing diverse methodologies, it proceeds to provide empirical support for a widening chasm between popular, at times violently expressed, aspirations for justice and democratically deficient reform designed in distant IFI headquarters that is entrusted to the exclusive and unaccountable Pakistani 'reform club'.

    • Diverse empirical methods are used for gauging actual experience of ordinary citizens
    • Proposes an analytical typology and discusses the various historical approaches to law reform in Pakistan
    • Identifies and discusses the absence of necessary linkages between the scholarship that evaluates the impact of colonialism on Indian law and the postcolonial law reform debates in South Asia
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    • Winner of the 2014–15 Book Prize, American Institute of Pakistan Studies

    Reviews & endorsements

    'A fascinating and troubling study of Pakistan's judicial system: its history misunderstood by its acolytes, its practice unaltered by countless reforms, its operations a tribulation for its constituents. Siddique analyzes the limits of scholarly reflection and well intentioned reform by placing them alongside the perceptions, strategies and experiences of those who use the system. A powerful and broad-ranging cautionary tale.' David Kennedy, Harvard Law School

    'Pakistan's Experience with Formal Law is a critical exploration of a system that is simultaneously familiar and alien. It departs decisively from all the official and approved pronouncements on legal reform, combining a rich experiential account of the frustrations of law in Pakistan (and throughout South Asia) with a provocative analysis of impoverished agendas of reform that fail to address the perplexities of the post-colonial legal situation.' Marc Galanter, London School of Economics and Political Science

    'This book is a tour de force, bringing together the often forgotten history of British law in colonial India with the important if not at all encouraging story of massively foreign funded rule of law programs in present day Pakistan. The history is a crisp summary, followed by a fascinating first person participant observer report of how rule of law projects actually operate, and a pioneering empirical study of litigation on the ground in a provincial court. Siddique's innovative multi-disciplinary approach could be a model for similar breakthroughs across the global south.' Duncan Kennedy, Harvard Law School

    'The major themes that Siddique develops and methods that he employs set the book apart from most legal scholarship. Political and other historical context informs the description of legal doctrine and its evolution during the period discussed. He deplores the inadequate attention given to Pakistan's colonial past and its effects on post-colonial Pakistan's legal system, discourse and reform projects. Discussion ranges from the theoretical framework to descriptions derived from empirical methods of the ordinary lives and experiences of those subject to that system. The author's critical sense is at work throughout, from evaluation of historical and contemporary approaches to law reform to the use by outside funders of notions like efficiency to direct reform projects. Vaut le voyage.' Henry J. Steiner, Emeritus, Harvard Law School

    'Osama Siddique has produced a theoretically informed and historically grounded study of Pakistans engagement with formal law. This book makes a compelling argument that history matters and the perceptions of ordinary citizens are relevant in crafting a meaningful course towards legal reform. Historians, lawyers, social scientists and policy-makers will read it with profit.' Sugata Bose, Harvard University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107038158
    • length: 485 pages
    • dimensions: 233 x 156 x 30 mm
    • weight: 0.82kg
    • contains: 22 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. The hegemony of heritage: the 'narratives of colonial displacement' and the absence of the past in Pakistani reform narratives
    2. Law in practice: the Lahore district courts litigants survey (2010–2011)
    3. Law, crime, context and vulnerability: the Punjab crime perception survey (2009–2010)
    4. Approaches to legal and judicial reform in Pakistan: postcolonial inertia and the paucity of imagination in times of turmoil and change
    5. Reform on paper: a post-mortem of justice sector reform in Pakistan from 1998–2010
    6. Reform nirvanas and reality checks: justice sector reform in Pakistan in the twenty-first century and the monopoly of the 'experts'
    7. Towards a new approach

  • Author

    Osama Siddique, Lahore University of Management Sciences
    Osama Siddique is Associate Professor at Lahore University of Management Sciences. He has previously worked as a transactional lawyer at two leading U.S. law firms and as an advocate in the Pakistani appellate courts. His research articles have been published in a number of international academic law journals.


    • Winner of the 2014–15 Book Prize, American Institute of Pakistan Studies
    • Winner of the Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award, Karachi Literature Festival 2014

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