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Region and the Hudood Ordinances

Another important finding disclosed by the analysis is that the Hudood Ordinances are enforced disproportionately among the provinces. Fully 80 percent of the cases tried under the Hudood statutes originated in the Punjab, 12 percent in the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), only 7 percent in Sindh, and less than 1 percent in Balochistan. Further, in the latter provinces Hudood convictions are usually linked to urban settings. When one controls for population such distinctions become even more apparent. For instance, it is ten times more likely for a Hudood conviction to occur in Sargodha Division (Punjab) than in Hyderabad Division (Sindh).

Several factors may be suggested to help explain this phenomenon. Perhaps the most compelling recognizes the profound cultural differences among the regions of Pakistan. Zina-related crimes, one could hypothesize, either occur less frequently in the non-Punjabi or the non-urban Pathan cultural milieu and/or (more likely I argue) judicial redress is perceived as an invalid mechanism to resolve such grievances in such regions. That is, in tribal or non-Punjabi rural areas zina crimes are usually not brought to the courts, but are disposed through extrajudicial means. Regardless of explanation, however, it is important to note that the implementation of the Hudood Ordinances has been primarily a Punjabi and, to a lesser extent, a Pathan (NWFP) phenomenon. Generally, the Hudood Ordinances have been conspicuous by their nonimplementation in the other provinces.


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Source: Islamization of Laws and Economy: Case Studies on Pakistan, Charles Kennedy. Republished with permission.