About one month ago, the former Afghan President Hamid Karzai raised the issue of organizing a Loya Jirga. Karzai said that he had shared the demand with the Afghan government leaders sending a letter.
According to Karzai, we (the country) want partnership with both the US and the other countries in the region, but the US’s new strategy would turn Afghanistan into the rivalry zone of the world superpowers.
Although the Afghan government did not show any direct reactions against this demand of Karzai, speaking in a press conference, the spokesperson of the Afghan president termed the recently announced US strategy as beneficial and in accordance with the situation in the region and said that the government respected the opinions of the former President. He said that the government welcomed any positive opinion that could contribute in the peace and stability in the country.
After one month, when the issue of convening a Loya Jirga has become warmer, releasing a statement on 15 Nov 2017, the Presidential Palace expressed its opposition with the convention of a Loya Jirga. “Recently some individuals and circles have raised the issue of organizing a Loya Jirga and have sent their representatives in some of the province of the country. These people are not the government representatives and the public is not obliges to attend their meetings and talk with them,” said the statement.
The statement of the Presidential Palace further states that this process is not in accordance with the Afghan laws and the government officials are instructed not to participate this process.
The question is will such a Jirga be convened? And will this Jirga resolve the existing problems in the country?
What kind of a Loya Jirga?
Currently, the National Unity Government (NUG) can organize neither the constitutional Loya Jirga nor the traditional one because, currently, holding the constitutional Loya Jirga is not feasible. The Loya Jirga which is mentioned in the constitution is formed of the members of the Parliament, and heads of the provincial and district councils and until now even the district council elections are not held. Besides that, the parliamentary elections are also important because the official and legal tenure of the current parliament is expired and despite the several announcements of the dates of the elections, these elections are yet to be held.
On the other hand, given this legal vacuum, some circles are calling for the emergency traditional Loya Jirga to bring the country out of the current crisis. Such a Loya Jirga can be convened with the decree of the President, as the Article 65 of the constitution allows the President to call for referendums about national, political, social, and economic affairs, but the President is not obliged to accept the decisions of the emergency and consulting Loya Jirgas. Considering the current circumstances, the Afghan government will never call for such a Loya Jirga that aims at overthrowing, criticizing, and discrediting the government and calling for an interim government.
Hamid Karzai and the call for Loya Jirga
If one studies the previous US policies towards Afghanistan, one will find out that the Afghan government and particularly the former Afghan President has continually criticized the US policies towards Pakistan because according to the former President the main war against “terrorism” must be fought in Pakistan because the Afghan government’s armed opposition comes from that side of the border.
In the past, the US did not pay attention to such criticism. However, after Trump’s coming to power in the US, the US policy exactly shifted the way Karzai wanted during his terms as President. Except in 2001 and 2002, it is the first time that Pakistan comes under the US pressures.
Another surprising issue is that the formers President have a history of not accepting the consult of such Loya Jirga in the past, but now he believes the convention of Loya Jirga as the only way for the salvation of Afghanistan?!
Will Loya Jirga change the current situation?
On the one hand, currently, the NUG’s stance is not to convene any Loya Jirga except for the Loya Jirga promised between the two leaders of the NUG and, on the other hand, with the announcement of the new US strategy which was what the NUG wanted, the NUG does not even dream of raising an issue that can increase public mistrust because it is likely that some circles may use this meeting as a political tool against the government and discredit the government and, thus, give the collar of public will to their own agendas.
However, in order to settle the current challenges, if Loya Jirga was held, will it guarantee changing the current situation and leading to the right direction, particularly when the government itself will decide what will be its agenda and who will be its participants.
On the other hand, with the support of the former President, the convention of such a Loya Jirga is probable. And if such a Jirga was held, it would be looked as an effort to discredit the government and will be opposed by the NUG because it has already termed it as against the Law.