GILGIT, Aug 20: Customary laws and indigenous knowledge have played a crucial role in the sustainable development of livelihood of local communities and managing their natural resources. However, the customary laws should be tailored in a way that could meet the modern challenges and needs of the people. There is a need to revisit the customary laws, which have evolved over centuries and become part of the life and culture of the people, and the statutory laws to remove loopholes, confusions and conflicts.
This was the crux of a study and views expressed by researchers, academia and civil society representatives at the launch of a research study on “Negotiating Change: Recognizing the Role of Customary Laws for Sustainable Livelihoods and Development in Gilgit-Baltistan” organized by the paper #Heinrich #Böll #Stiftung (HBS) here on Sunday.
“With the advent of modernity, the society of Gilgit-Baltistan experienced disintegration of traditional worldview and the very natural world underwent disenchantment”.–Aziz Ali Dad
The study has been conducted by social scientist and columnist #Aziz #Ali #Dad and #Sultan #Abbas, a lecturer at the #Karakoram #International #University (KIU) with the financial and technical support of the German foundation.
Speaking on the occasion Aziz said that the traditional worldview had been dominating the region till the advent of modernity. Hence customary laws should be understood in the context of a worldview.
“With the advent of modernity, the society of #Gilgit-Baltistan experienced disintegration of traditional worldview and the very natural world underwent disenchantment,” he said.
“In its absence, market forces filled the gap and the disenchanted approach of the market forced people to turn nature into a commodity,” he stated.
Elucidating the study and themes of #forest, #flora, #fauna and #mineral, Dad said that the study takes a cue from views of local people, and takes stock of interplay of #customary #laws with them, who have over the centuries evolved and internalised these laws to make them part and parcel of their culture.
Hence, the study looks at the customary laws as a part of the life of local people. However, the coterminous existence of customary laws along with modern laws has given birth to a complicated situation where the rights of the local people get lost in limbo.
“It is important to create the world by the communities and not the one created by the privileged class.”–Sultan Abbas
Abbas shared the findings of the study related to customary laws around land and water in Gilgit-Baltistan.
He discussed the customary laws in the traditional context of the region and the changing scenario in the wake of CPEC.
“It is important to create the world by the communities and not the one created by the privileged class,” Abbas exhorted.
“Given the challenges posed by CPEC, it is important to revive some parts of customary laws instead of rejecting them totally because they have served the interest of indigenous people for centuries,” stressing the need for accommodating customary laws in statutory laws.
“There is a need to revisit customary and statutory laws to remove loopholes, enabling local people to become the custodian of their own resource”–Mehjabeen Abidi
Dr #Mehjabeen #Abidi adviser of the project said that such studies were important as they provide insight into the indigenous knowledge. Since customary laws are embedded in the local culture and society, they enable local people to develop sustainable livelihood and manage their natural resources sustainability.
Abidi underlined the importance of revisiting customary and statutory laws to remove loopholes. It will enable local communities to become the custodian of their own resource.
She emphasized on questioning every aspect of society including laws so that new possibilities for sustainable development can be explored.
“The customary laws historically played a crucial role in the development of sustainable livelihood of local communities”.–Mome Saleem
Earlier welcoming the participants, #Mome #Saleem, Programme Coordinator, #Ecology of the #HBS highlighted the objective and importance of the study.
“The customary laws historically played a crucial role in the development of sustainable livelihood of local communities on the one hand, and the increasing importance of local knowledge and localised strategies in tackling the challenge of climate change,” she stressed.
The impacts of climate change are visible in Gilgit-Baltistan. The study tries to document and analyse customary laws in the region, she said.
She emphasized on looking at the nexus of water, energy and land.
The participants provided their views and highlighted issues surrounding customary laws and their viability in the modern context.
The event was attended by members of civil society, government, academia, journalists and development practitioners.