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23 Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 433 (1991-1992)
The Reemergence of Qisas and Diyat in Pakistan

handle is hein.journals/colhr23 and id is 439 raw text is: THE REEMERGENCE
by Evan Gottesman*
The promulgation of the Qisas and Diyat Ordinance1 on
October 3, 1990 announced Pakistan's return to an Islamic criminal
law doctrine officially abandoned for two hundred years. The
Ordinance, which is still awaiting implementation,2 overhauls
Pakistan's British-written criminal legal code and marks a profound
shift away from the British system of state control over punishment.
Instead, it focuses on the rights of the heirs of a murder victim, or the
victim himself in the case of severe injury, to dictate punishment,
pardon, and settlement (choosing not to punish in exchange for
payment). This radical change may prove tumultuous as Pakistan
attempts to incorporate a long neglected but not forgotten doctrine into
the largely secular legal system of a modern state. Indeed, supporters
as well as opponents of the Ordinance have recognized the shocking
impact qisas and diyat may have on Pakistani legal culture.'
Qisas crimes - murder and voluntary infliction of physical
injury - are, according to Islamic law, punishable by retribution or
*   B.A. Yale University (1988), J.D. Columbia University (1992). Articles Editor,
Columbia Human Rights Law Review (1991-92). The author gratefully acknowledges the
contributions of his editors, Sofia Hubscher and Carin Reynolds, as well as Professors
Sharif Omar Hassan, Ayesha Jalal, Rasul Rais and Muhammad Waseem.
1.  The Ordinance is officially known as the Criminal Law (Second Amendment)
Ordinance, 1990. The text of the Ordinance was reprinted in full in the Pakistan Times.
See Pakistan Times, Sept. 7, 1990, at 5; Sept. 8, at 5; Sept. 11, at 9 [hereinafter Criminal
Law Ordinance]. It was supplemented by the Criminal Law (Fifth Amendment)
Ordinance, 1990 (enacted December 15, 1990). The text of the Fifth Amendment was
reprinted in full in the magazine Dawn. See Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance
Promulgated, Dawn, Dec. 16, 1990, at 1 (hereinafter Criminal Law Amendment].
2.  Interview with Mansoor Suhail, Pakistan Consulate, in New York, N.Y. (Mar.
10, 1992).
3.   Syed Alamdar Raza, Qisas and Diyat Ordinance, Pakistan Times, Oct. 19,1990,
at 6, 7. A strong proponent of the Qisas and Diyat Ordinance, Mr. Raza nonetheless
expressed concern over the rapid and uncertain return to a system in which murder and
causing grievous injury may be pardoned in exchange for a settlement. To persons like
us who have been brought up under the shadow of reality that these offences are never
compoundable [negotiable], this change is shocking. Id.

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