Loya Jirga or “grand council” in Pasto, is a mass national gathering that brings together representative from various ethnic, religious, and tribal communities in Afghanistan. The Loya Jirga is centuries old institution that has been converted at times of national crisis or to settle national issues. Historically, it has been used to approve a new constitution, declare war, choose a new king, or make sweeping social or political reforms.
According to the Constitution, Loya Jirga is considered the “highest expression” of the Afghan people. But it is not an official decision-making body. Its decisions are not legally binding and any verdict it hands out must be approved by the two houses of the Afghan parliament and the president in order for it to be made official. Unofficially, however, the Loya Jirga’s decision is seen as final, with the president and parliament expected to respect the ruling.
Since Afghanistan is going through a very sensitive situation, where efforts accelerated for peace talks with Taliban and US forces are also reportedly preparing for drawdown from Afghanistan. Therefore, President’s call for holding of Loya Jirga is of immense important. Loya Jirga, which is introduced the highest manifestation of public will, plays a crucial role in social and political arenas. Since many countries have an institution for making decision about important political issues, Loya Jirga is a reasonable and necessary institution and the decisions to be made on peace process would be destiny making for people and the country.
The importance of Consultative Peace Loya Jirga:
First of all, the Consultative Peace Loya Jirga will be hold on April 29, where the participants will discuss the government’s “values and red lines” and will aim to come up with a framework for the Western backed government in Kabul to engage in peace negotiations with the militant group.
The main goal of the Consultative Peace Loya Jirga is to create a national consensus and understanding and engage Afghans in the peace process so that the government proceeds with peace negotiations based on public advice and decisions, and participants of this Jirga will help determine limits for the delegation on who will negotiate with the Taliban on behalf of the government, and then the government will enter negotiations with the Taliban based on this authority.
This Jirga is different from the previous ones. The government is not selecting the participants of this Jirga, but residents of every district will send their representatives to the peace Jirga through an election-like process, so that they can present their demands and views at the Jirga. In addition, more than 2,000 Afghans from all over the country will take part in the Jirga and they will provide advice and recommendations to the government on how to carry out peace talks with the Taliban. And for the first time in Afghan history, women will make up more than 30% of the Consultative Peace Loya Jirga, where women’s participation in the Peace Jirga signifies their role in the peace process, and their participation will prevent any hidden deal during the peace talks with the Taliban that is intended to disregard the rights and achievements of women.
In sum up, the Peace Consultative Loya Jirga will introduce the mechanism and limits for negotiation with Taliban movement and will provide advice and recommendations to the government on how to carry out peace talks with the Taliban movement.