Administrative & Judicial structure Swat, pre-during-post State


Swat state was formed in 1915 by a Jirga. Its ruler was called ‘Badshah’ till 1918 and assumed the title of ‘Wali’ in 1926. After the rule of Syed Abdul Jabbar Shah his successor Miangul Abdul Wadood, in 1926, laid the foundation of a formal administrative, judicial, army, police, budget and taxation system with a flag and an emblem. He also established a system of roads and boys and girls education.[1] The state signed a treaty of accession with Pakistan under the Government of Swat (Interim Constitution) Act, 1954 and Wali became bound to constitute an Advisory Council[2]. Swat was formally merged with Pakistan through the Merger Regulation of 1969[3]. The Wali as the ruler of Swat was also called ‘Amir e Shariat’.

Administrative setup: The state was divided into Hakimisand Tehsils with ‘Hakim’ and ‘Tehsildar’ as the head respectively, exercising administrative-cum-judicial-cum-executive-cum-financial powers. Wali exercised direct control on both from the Centre where he had a Secretariat with a Chief Secretary who maintained correspondence with Pakistan government and a private secretary for private correspondence of the Wali. The Wali, at the Centre, was also aided by Wazir-e-Mulk (Minister of State), Wazir-e-Mal (Revenue Minister) Sipah Salar (Commander-in Chief), other Wazirs and Mashirs (Advisors).
Revenue: A ‘Muhtamim Khazana’ or a treasury officer headed the Revenue Department and main source of state revenue was ‘Ushr’ received as percentage of crops, milk cows and buffaloes, herds of goats and sheep etc.


Judicial Administration:


Swat’s judicial system was divided into civil and criminal litigation. In civil cases any person could apply to the Tehsildar depositing only 5 paisa, 5 anna or 1.25 rupee commensurate with the intensity of the case. The Tehsildar decided the case and the judgment was implemented. However, in criminal cases the decision of the Tehsildar could be challenged before the Hakim and then before the Wali. Decision of Wali was final[4].


There was an institution of Chief Qazi called ‘Mehkama Munsifeen’. Qazis were appointed at Village and Tehsil level too. However, cases were only referred to them for interpretation as per Islamic law if there was issue of ‘Shahadat’ or evidence not being clear or the case referred to essentials of Qisas in a murder trial. One fact is quite clear – Code of conduct (Dastar ul Amal) at the traditional and riwaj level framed by jirgas for their respective localities took precedence on Sharia law. There was no court fee and cases were decided in at the most two hearings[5].


Land Administration: Before 1926 land could only be owned by ‘Yousafzais’ in Swat and the ownership was rotated every 10-20 years under the system of ‘Wesh’ so that there is no clash on inferior or superior lands. After Miangul Abdul Wadood became Wali he introduced permanent ownership and also that in case of contest on a piece of land it reverted to the Wali. It was only after Bhutto’s land reforms in the 1970s that the ‘Gujars’ in Swat agitated the issue of land ownership. However the land settlement completed in 1986 did not take their claim into account[6].


The most apt assessment of the Swat state system is by Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University: “First, the structure of the state was clearly defined, with the Wali at its center. Second, the system provided “swift and correct justice”: swift in the sense that cases were heard and decisions made in short order, and correct in the sense that by and large the average person felt these decisions were fair, since they were based on customary law and local Pashtun tradition. Third, law and order were fundamental attributes of the state; if any prominent person challenged the Wali’s authority, he would be dealt with harshly”. [7]


The rise of Taliban, or initially Tehrik Nifaz Shariat Mohammadi under Sufi Muhammad, was basically against the system introduced through PATA Regulations 1975 which caused delay in decisions on local disputes due to lengthy and complex procedures and was expensive. Further advancement of Mulla Fazlullah was due to geo-strategic players similar to rise of Taliban in Bajaur or the Waziristans and was not related to change of laws or otherwise. 



[1] Fleischner, Justin, Governance and Militancy in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Oct 2012
[2] Ziring, Lawrence, Swat State (1915–1969): From Genesis to Merger (review), The Middle East Journal, Volume 63, Number 2, Spring 2009, pp. 338-339
[3] Sultan-i-Rome, Dr, Administrative System of the Princely State of Swat, on 19 No, 2013
[4] Syed Abdul Jabbar Shah, presently Political Agent Bajaur. His father was a Magistrate in Swat state service, he belongs to Swat and has remained District Officer Revenue in Kohat and Peshawar besides DCO in 5 Districts in KP.
[5] Dr Fakhre Alam Irfan, presently Principal Secretary to Governor KP. He has remained Commissioner Malakand.
[6] Op. Cit. note-4
[7] Op. Cit. note-1