Image source: BBC Online
BBC reports that a farmer appealed to one of these new Sharia courts in Swat because the Taliban wanted to build a dirt road through his farm. The court ruled in his favor, and now the Taliban are pissed off. Isn't it amazing how people who demand a system nearly always assume it's going to work for them, and never seem to seriously think how it may work against what they envisioned?
For some reason that I haven't time to fathom right now, I'm reminded of an old book on Muslim endowments in 19th c. India. In it, the author, Gregory Kozlowski, shows how vastly differently the colonial court system worked from adjudication of disputes by Qazis or other Islamic officials. In Kozlowski's assessment, the Qazis preferred to get both sides to compromise, because they acted with a view to the best possible formula for the coexistence of the disputing parties, and also because they themselves were very much a part of the community in which they arbitrated. On the other hand, colonial courts tended to treat a dispute as having a losing side and a winning side, and verdicts created a welter of new problems with regard to authority, property ownership and other issues.