Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 18th, 2019

Karzai Bypassing Democratic Institutions

Around a hundred members of the Lower House are going to boycott the upcoming Loya Jirga convened by President Karzai to discuss the strategic partnership agreement between the US and Afghanistan. Despite an earlier resolution unanimously approved by the house, about 150 MP's have filled up forms to participate in the consultative Loya Jirga to be held on November 16 in Kabul.

More than 2000 people are expected to attend the gathering, including MP's, tribal 'elders', 30 percent of provincial council members and representatives of Afghan refugees/Diaspora in Iran, Pakistan, America, Canada and Europe.

There are several reasons for this Jirga to be irrelevant, ridiculous and against the constitution and democratic values. Firstly, President Karzai is bypassing chosen representatives of the people of Afghanistan in Lower House and Senate, who are the legal and authorized bodies to decide about national issues such as an agreement of strategic partnership with eh United States. Despite earlier opposition from both houses of the parliament and heavy criticism in media, President Karzai decided to convene the Jirga.

The participants of the Loya Jirga will be briefed about the event for four days in Kabul ahead of the gathering. These elders are neither political representatives of masses, nor national security experts to understand the essence of and approve the much-needed US-Afghanistan strategic partnership.

President Karzai is just wasting the time and striking at the democratic institutions of Afghanistan by ignoring the parliament. The Lower House and House of Elders should boycott the Loya Jirga and strongly react against the autocratic moves of President Karzai taking the country towards a monarchy.

Under the Constitution of Afghanistan, a legitimate Jirga is the one convened on issues of national security and emergency. The structure of such a Constitutional Jirga comprises of members of the parliament, governors, provincial council members, cabinet members, but not tribal elders, religious scholars, influential leaders and 'representatives of the Afghan Diaspora'.

President Karzai is playing political bargaining by calling an irrelevant Jirga, which cannot make any legal decision about the authority of the Afghan Government regarding the strategic partnership agreement with the US. The pact has to come to parliament and must be approved by the MPs, which they will approve unanimously.

But the question is, "Why President Karzai is wasting time and efforts for a symbolic practice?" The reasons are not obscure. He wants to keep the traditional influence through tribal elders by a merely symbolic gathering of 'sit, talk, eat and go'. He is undermining the cultural legitimacy of such a traditional practice by calling it on every other issue.

The mechanism of Karzai's Loya Jirga is also against the traditional way of organizing this gathering. There was an opposition to this Jirga by the Lower House of parliament in July when 126 MP's voted against the convening of the Jirga.

The parliament should be the only institution to approve any such national accord with a foreign country. The strategic partnership with the US is in the very national interest of Afghanistan and our national security. The US troops will need bases to stay after 2014 to train Afghan National Security Forces and avoid the return of civil war in the country.