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Addressing social, justice and economic gaps of Kohat
By: Syed Shujaat Ahmed and Rabia Manzoor
Kohat a division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and includes the districts Kohat and Lachi. The division was said to be founded as per different studies by Buddhist Raja Kohat who gave it this name. The division has a population of 993,874, most of which lives in Kohat district because it is the centre of all local economic activities. Prior to its own divisional status till 1976, it was one of the district of Peshawar.
The major economic activities which are key to Kohat’s development include; a strong banking sector, cement manufacturing, leather businesses, meat businesses and businesses associated with fruit, vegetables and real estate. Beside these key activities there is a textile industry under the name of Janana De Malucho Textile Mills. Textile production was once a core component of Kohat’s economy.
Already developing its own human capital resources, the division got further strength from local universities. These include the Kohat University of Science and Technology, Preston University, and Medical College and Engineering University.
With all the developments and passing of Indus Highway which goes to Karachi and the network expands to Balochistan there are certain challenges to the system. These include a weak administrative system in terms of governance and management of resources being key to low economic growth of the district. One of the rich districts in terms of natural resources, capacity to extract and earn revenue for the district is another weak area.
Similarly, in far flung areas within the district social and cultural taboos should be considered as one of the hurdles in development. Take the example of justice being one of the important goals for Sustainable Development (SDG 16) and one of the keys to develop economically viable society should be the starting point.
Social and cultural taboos should be considered as one of the hurdles in development
Financial constraints faced by courts in the district are a key challenge and one of the reasons for delays in case disposal. Second, lack of work ethics and practicing is another challenge not only for complainants but also for senior lawyers who can bridge the gap of capacity for new entrants. Third being the provision of infrastructure and place where females can listen to females, therefore those facing challenges are prominent to avoid courts. Another reason in avoiding courts is linked to social and cultural taboos with more male dominance present in the society. Fourth, over utilization of human resources with more time and cost involved also adds challenge linked to accessing justice.
One of the other important components of justice and rule of lawin any system is the police which has established its roots with important functions. There is establishment of model police station with gender representation present. Within this model police station locals are present to help police in disposing of cases through Public Liaison Committees which allows police to enhance case disposition and expedite justice. Core Challenge in this regard is the access to such police station and committees as they have limited areas to cover.
Third important component of justice and rule of law is the alternate dispute resolution mechanism which has significantly helped in developing the society but has very limited space and is located in only one spot where those who are far away living in the suburbs cannot have access because of time and monetary cost involved. Further challenges within this system are linked to capacitating of the members and police officials i.e. either trainings provided are short lived or those get training are short lived in this very particular department.
To address these gaps for the district rich of resources key lies in the resource allocation and resource management which can be done through improving governance and administrative system. To improve this system there is a need to ease the administrative procedures being followed with more power centres. Furthermore, to improve this whole economic process and bringing in more soft skills there is need to bring in entrepreneurial concept starting from academia which can result in innovative approaches towards improving economy of Kohat. For this purpose, Kohat University of Science and Technology (KUST) will have significant role to play and can nurture the entrepreneurial culture while making it part of academic system which in the long run will grow into the new business approaches. This will also enable and help in developing more positive perception and building more positive narrative in the society.
Secondly, while talking about Sustainable Development Goals in general and particularly in this case about access to justice social and cultural norms should be given consideration and should be part of achieving agenda 2030 at division and district level. These cultural taboos and barriers should be addressed while giving quality education, vocational trainings to capacitate the youth and having prolonged awareness sessions about basic rights and responsibilities. Through this approach both social and cultural gaps can be addressed.
Third, when one talks about socio-economic gaps, justice is a key for which challenges of the legal fraternity be addressed equally while looking into the concerns of the ones who have to appear before courts and face the components of legal fraternity. Therefore, equal allocation of resources both in terms of financial and physical should be ensured with due share being provided. Secondly, to improve this framework there is need for long term and improved capacity development programmes with more focus on work ethics and work culture. Third, there is need to provide more outreach and spread of the trainings to small cities and towns along with provision of human and technology capital. These factors will enhance the justice framework and bridging gaps between community and legal fraternity.
Fourth, Both Public Liaison Committees and Dispute Resolution Councils should be spread across the district in order to strengthen the justice system within the cultural norms with more approach towards educating both service providers and users of the service. These trainings and other capacity building measures should be stretched to long term programs will also serve as core in accessing justice.
Therefore, addressing social, justice and economic gaps of Kohat, key lies in strong governance and administrative framework with focus on resource management and utilization followed by society and cultural ingredients for achieving agenda 2030 and capacitating both community and service providers working in the system.

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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.