On November 16, 2011, President Karzai is convening Traditional Loya Jirga to decide about strategic partnership agreement between Afghanistan and the United States of America. Taliban militants have warned the participants with death threats in night letters in Ghazni province. The traditional Loya Jirga is not the one provided for in the constitution. The idea to hold such a Jirga runs counter to the effort for institutionalizing democratic institutions in the country.
Holding a traditional Loya Jirga to decide about high national interests, in fact, perpetuates a traditional mechanism that has not been working well throughout the history of Afghanistan. The Taliban in their leaflets have said that those who would participate in the Loya Jirga are supporters of the government, not real representatives of the people.
Afghan government is going to lose public trust by choosing to stick to a dysfunctional traditional mechanism instead of working together with elected representative bodies to decide on what could make or break. Taliban militants are quick enough to use this as propaganda against the government, which would lead to loss of public trust in the government and democratic process.
Unfortunately, Afghan government has not made any effort to hold district councils' elections as provided for in the constitution. It has been attempting to weaken the parliament. It is high time to stick to the goal of democratic consolidation, which could be made possible by abiding by the constitutional provisions and working to strengthen democratic bodies.
Afghanistan cannot afford to return to non-democratic processes and structures and institutions. It is a pluralistic society and this diversity can be managed only through democratic institutions. While it is important for Afghanistan to reach to some sort of long-term strategic agreement with developed and powerful countries that can help the country politically and economically, it is equally important to make this effort through elected bodies so that they find their place and status in this traditional and tribal society.