Loya jirga

Loya jirga

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A loya jirga is a type of jirga
Jirga
A jirga is a tribal assembly of elders which takes decisions by consensus, particularly among the Pashtun people but also in other ethnic groups near them; they are most common in Afghanistan and among the Pashtuns in Pakistan near its border with Afghanistan...

 regarded as "grand assembly," a phrase in the Pashto language meaning "grand council." A loya jirga is a mass meeting usually prepared for major events such as choosing a new king, adopting a constitution, or discussing important national political or emergency matters as well as disputes in the Pashtun
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

 areas of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

. In Afghanistan, the loya jirga was originally attended by the Pashtuns, but later included other ethnic groups. It is a forum unique among the Pashtun tribes
Pashtun tribes
The Pashtun people are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan and the second largest in Pakistan. Pashtun, tribes are divided into four supertribal confederacies: the Arbanee , Betanee , Gharghasht, and Karlanee .Traditionally, according to folklore, all Pashtuns are said to have descended, at...

 of Afghanistan and Pakistan in which, traditionally, tribal elders meet together.

History


The Aryan tribes, which came down in intermittent waves from Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 to present Afghanistan and then moved to
India (around 1500 BC), tribes practiced a sort of jirga-system with two types of councils – simite and sabha. The simite
(the summit) comprised elders and tribal chiefs. The king also joined sessions of the simite. Sabha was a sort of rural
council.
It was used over time for the selection of rulers and headmen and the airing of matters of principle. From the time of the great Kushan ruler Kanishka to the 1970s there were sixteen nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

al loya jirgas and hundreds of smaller ones. The institution, which is centuries old, is a similar idea to the Islamic "shura", or consultative assembly.


The phrase loya jirga is Pashto and means "grand council". The institution, which is centuries old, is a similar idea to the Islamic "shura", or consultative assembly, BBC world.


In the Afghan (Pashtun
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

) society the Loya Jirga is still maintained and very strongly practiced, mostly in front of tribal chiefs or with them to solve internal and external tribal problems or disputes with other tribes.

When the Afghans took the power they tried to legitimize their power with such a Jirga. While in the beginning only Pashtuns were allowed to participate in the Jirgas, later other ethnic groups like Tajiks and Hazaras were allowed to participate as well, however they were little more than observers. The member of the Jirgas were mostly members of the Royal Family, religious leaders and tribal chiefs of the Afghans. King Amanullah Khan
Amanullah Khan
Amanullah Khan was the King of the Emirate of Afghanistan from 1919 to 1929, first as Amir and after 1926 as Shah. He led Afghanistan to independence over its foreign affairs from the United Kingdom, and his rule was marked by dramatic political and social change...

 institutionalized the Jirga. From Amanullah until the reign of Mohammed Zahir Shah
Mohammed Zahir Shah
Mohammed Zahir Shah was the last King of Afghanistan, reigning for four decades, from 1933 until he was ousted by a coup in 1973...

 (1933–1973) and Mohammed Daoud Khan
Mohammed Daoud Khan
Sardar Mohammed Daoud Khan or Daud Khan was Prime Minister of Afghanistan from 1953 to 1963 and later becoming the President of Afghanistan...

 (1973–1978) the Jirga was recognized as a common meeting of regional Pashtun leaders.

The meetings do not have scheduled occurrences, but rather are called for when issues or disputes arise.

There is no time limit for a Loya Jirga to conclude, and the meetings often take a long time because decisions can only be made as a group and arguments can drag out for days. Many different problems are addressed, like foreign policy, declarations of war, the legitimacy of leaders, and the introduction of new ideas and laws.

Afghanistan


Loya jirgas in the history of Afghanistan
History of Afghanistan
The written history of Afghanistan can be traced back to the Achaemenid Empire ca. 500 BCE, although evidence indicates that an advanced degree of urbanized culture has existed in the land since between 3000 and 2000 BCE. Alexander the Great and his Macedonian army arrived to Afghanistan in 330 BCE...

 include:
  • 1707-1709 — Loya jirga was gathered by Mir Wais Hotak
    Mir Wais Hotak
    Hajji Mirwais Khan Hotak, also known as Mir Vais Ghilzai , was an influential tribal chief of the Ghilzai Pashtuns from Kandahar, Afghanistan, who founded the Hotaki dynasty that ruled a wide area in Persia and Afghanistan from 1709 to 1738...

     at Kandahar
    Kandahar
    Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

     in 1707, but according to Ghulam Mohammad Ghobar
    Ghulam Mohammad Ghobar
    Mir Ghulam Mohammad Ghobar was a famous historian, journalist, political figure, and a poet from Afghanistan. He is the author of a number of books, including Afghanistan's history book called Afghanistan in the Course of History...

     it was gathered in Manja in 1709.
  • October 1747 — A jirga at Kandahar
    Kandahar
    Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

     was attended by Afghan representatives who appointed Ahmad Shah Durrani
    Ahmad Shah Durrani
    Ahmad Shah Durrani , also known as Ahmad Shāh Abdālī and born as Ahmad Khān, was the founder of the Durrani Empire in 1747 and is regarded by many to be the founder of the modern state of Afghanistan.Ahmad Khan enlisted as a young soldier in the military of the Afsharid kingdom and quickly rose...

     as their new leader.
  • September 1928 — A jirga at Paghman
    Paghman
    Paghman is a town in the hills near Kabul, Afghanistan. See also Paghman Gardens. It is center of the Paghman District which has a total population of 120,000 people, and another 20,000 returnees are expected , of which 70% are Pashtuns and 30% Tajiks.. Paghman District is situated in the western...

    , called by King Amanullah, the third loya jirga of his reign (1919–1929) to discuss reforms.
  • September 1930 — A jirga a meeting of 286 called by Mohammed Nadir Shah
    Mohammed Nadir Shah
    Mohammed Nadir Shah was King of Afghanistan from 15 October 1929 until his assassination in 1933. Previously, he served as Minister of War, Afghan Ambassador to France, and as a general in the military of Afghanistan...

     to confirm his accession to the throne.
  • 1941 — Called by Mohammed Zahir Shah
    Mohammed Zahir Shah
    Mohammed Zahir Shah was the last King of Afghanistan, reigning for four decades, from 1933 until he was ousted by a coup in 1973...

     to approve neutrality in World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

    .
  • 1947 — Held by Pashtuns in the Tribal Agencies
    Fata
    The FATA or FC-ATA is a type of computer hard disk drive. FATA is simply the low cost ATA or SATA disk drive equipped with a small external converter, that changes the interface to Fibre Channel...

     to choose between joining India
    India
    India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

     or Pakistan
    Pakistan
    Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

    .
  • July 26, 1949 — Afghanistan-Pakistan relations rapidly deteriorated over a dispute, officially declared that it did not recognize the 1893 Durand Line
    Durand Line
    The Durand Line refers to the porous international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which has divided the ethnic Pashtuns . This poorly marked line is approximately long...

     border any longer between the two countries.
  • September 1964 — A meeting of 452 called by Mohammed Zahir Shah
    Mohammed Zahir Shah
    Mohammed Zahir Shah was the last King of Afghanistan, reigning for four decades, from 1933 until he was ousted by a coup in 1973...

     to approve a new constitution.
  • July 1974 — A meeting with Pakistan over the Duran Line.
  • January 1977 — Approved the new constitution of Mohammed Daoud Khan
    Mohammed Daoud Khan
    Sardar Mohammed Daoud Khan or Daud Khan was Prime Minister of Afghanistan from 1953 to 1963 and later becoming the President of Afghanistan...

     establishing one-party rule in the Republic of Afghanistan.
  • April 1985 — To ratify the new constitution of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
    Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
    The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was a government of Afghanistan between 1978 and 1992. It was both ideologically close to and economically dependent on the Soviet Union, and was a major belligerent of the Afghan Civil War.- Saur Revolution :...

    .
  • September 2001 — Four different loya jirga movements anticipating the end of Taliban rule. Little communication took place between each of them.
    • The first was based in Rome
      Rome
      Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

       around Mohammed Zahir Shah
      Mohammed Zahir Shah
      Mohammed Zahir Shah was the last King of Afghanistan, reigning for four decades, from 1933 until he was ousted by a coup in 1973...

      , and it reflected the interests of moderate Pashtuns from Afghanistan. The Rome initiative called for fair elections, support for Islam
      Islam
      Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

       as the foundation of the Afghan state, and respect for human rights.
    • The second was based in Cyprus
      Cyprus
      Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

       and led by Homayoun Jarir, a member of the Islamic Party of his father-in-law, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
      Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
      Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is an Afghan Mujahideen leader who is the founder and leader of the Hezb-e Islami political party and paramilitary group. Hekmatyar was a rebel military commander during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan and was one of the key figures in the civil war that followed the...

      . Critics of the Cyprus initiative suspected that it served the interests of Iran
      Iran
      Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

      . The members of the Cyprus initiative, however, considered themselves closer to the Afghan people and regard the Rome group as too close to the long-isolated nobility.
    • The most significant was based in Germany
      Germany
      Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

      , which resulted in the Bonn Agreement (Afghanistan)
      Bonn Agreement (Afghanistan)
      Officially the Agreement on Provisional Arrangements in Afghanistan Pending the Re-Establishment of Permanent Government Institutions, the Bonn Agreement was the initial series of agreements intended to re-create the State of Afghanistan following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in response to the...

      . This agreement was made under United Nations
      United Nations
      The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

       auspices, established the Afghan Interim Authority and paved the way for the later jirgas that established the Constitution of Afghanistan
      Constitution of Afghanistan
      The Constitution of Afghanistan is the supreme law of the state Afghanistan, which serves as the legal framework between the Afghan government and the Afghan citizens...

      .
    • A lesser initiative based in Pakistan.


  • June 13, 2002 - July 13, 2002, The 2002 loya jirga
    2002 loya jirga
    An Emergency "Loya Jirga" was held in Kabul, Afghanistan between 11th and 19th June 2002 to elect a transitional administration in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Emergency Loya Jirga was called for by the Bonn Agreement. The agreement was drawn up in December 2001, in Bonn, Germany...

     of Afghanistan elected Hamid Karzai to oversee it. This was possible only because in the fall of 2001, Karzai was able to successfully lead one of the largest southern Afghanistan tribes against the draconian rule of the Taliban. The Loya Jirga was organized by the interim administration of Hamid Karzai
    Hamid Karzai
    Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

    , with about 1600 delegates, either selected through elections in various regions of the country or allocated to various political, cultural, and religious groups. It was held in a large tent in the grounds of Kabul Polytechnic from June 11 and was scheduled to last about a week. It formed a new Transitional Administration
    Afghan Transitional Administration
    The Afghan Transitional Administration was the name of a temporary administration of Afghanistan put in place by the 2002 Loya Jirga and followed the Afghan Interim Administration which was installed after the Bonn Conference.-Background:Following the US Invasion in Afghanistan, a UN sponsored...

     that took office shortly thereafter.

  • December 2003 — To consider the Proposed Afghan Constitution
    Constitution of Afghanistan
    The Constitution of Afghanistan is the supreme law of the state Afghanistan, which serves as the legal framework between the Afghan government and the Afghan citizens...

    . See 2003 Loya jirga
    2003 Loya jirga
    A 502-delegate loya jirga convened in Kabul, Afghanistan, on December 14, 2003, to consider the proposed Afghan Constitution. Originally planned to last ten days, the assembly did not endorse the charter until January 4, 2004. As has been generally the case with these assemblies, the endorsement...

    .

  • 2006 — Afghan president Hamid Karzai said that he and the Pakistani president will jointly lead a loya jirga to end a dispute over border attacks.

  • December 2009, after his disputed re-election
    Afghan presidential election, 2009
    The 2009 presidential election in Afghanistan was characterized by lack of security, low voter turnout and widespread ballot stuffing, intimidation, and other electoral fraud....

    , President Hamid Karzai announced to move ahead with a plan for a Loya Jirga to discuss the Taliban insurgency
    Taliban insurgency
    The Taliban insurgency took root shortly after the group's fall from power following the 2001 war in Afghanistan. The Taliban continue to attack Afghan, U.S., and other ISAF troops and many terrorist incidents attributable to them have been registered. The war has also spread over the southern and...

    . The Taliban was invited to take part in this Jirga.

  • June 2010
    Afghan Peace Jirga 2010
    The Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced the holding of a consultative grand council called the Afghanistan's National Consultative Peace Jirga or shortly Peace Jirga in his inauguration speech on 19 November 2009, after winning elections for a second term, to end the ongoing Taliban insurgency...

    , at Kabul, in which around 1,600 delegates of all ethnic groups attended for a peace talks with the Taliban.

Pakistan


On April 29, 2006, former Balochistan
Balochistan (Pakistan)
Balochistan is one of the four provinces or federating units of Pakistan. With an area of 134,051 mi2 or , it is the largest province of Pakistan, constituting approximately 44% of the total land mass of Pakistan. According to the 1998 population census, Balochistan had a population of...

 Chief Minister
Chief Minister
A Chief Minister is the elected head of government of a sub-national state, provinces of Sri Lanka, Pakistan, notably a state of India, a territory of Australia or a British Overseas Territory that has attained self-government...

 Taj Muhammad Jamali
Taj Muhammad Jamali
Mir Taj Muhammad Jamali was the former Balochistan chief minister and a veteran politician. He was the cousin of former Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali and present Deputy Chairman of Senate of Pakistan Jan Mohammad Jamali...

 offered to arranged a meeting between President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf
Pervez Musharraf
Pervez Musharraf , is a retired four-star general who served as the 13th Chief of Army Staff and tenth President of Pakistan as well as tenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. Musharraf headed and led an administrative military government from October 1999 till August 2007. He ruled...

 and a loya jirga (grand jirga) for peace in Balochistan
Balochistan (Pakistan)
Balochistan is one of the four provinces or federating units of Pakistan. With an area of 134,051 mi2 or , it is the largest province of Pakistan, constituting approximately 44% of the total land mass of Pakistan. According to the 1998 population census, Balochistan had a population of...

. A Grand jirga was held at Kalat in September 2006 to announce that a case would be filed in the International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

 regarding the sovereignty and rights of the Baloch people
Baloch people
The Baloch or Baluch are an ethnic group that belong to the larger Iranian peoples. Baluch people mainly inhabit the Balochistan region and Sistan and Baluchestan Province in the southeast corner of the Iranian plateau in Western Asia....

.

See also

  • Pashtunwali
    Pashtunwali
    Pashtunwali or Pakhtunwali is a non-written ethical code and traditional lifestyle which the indigenous Pashtun people from Afghanistan and Pakistan follow. Some in the Indian subcontinent refer to it as "Pathanwali". Its meaning may also be interpreted as "the way of the Pashtuns" or "the code of...

  • Jirga
    Jirga
    A jirga is a tribal assembly of elders which takes decisions by consensus, particularly among the Pashtun people but also in other ethnic groups near them; they are most common in Afghanistan and among the Pashtuns in Pakistan near its border with Afghanistan...

  • Wolesi Jirga — "people's jirga", the lower house
    Lower house
    A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house.Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide the lower house has come to wield more power...

     of the Afghan legislature
  • Meshrano Jirga — "elders' jirga", the upper house
    Upper house
    An upper house, often called a senate, is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house; a legislature composed of only one house is described as unicameral.- Possible specific characteristics :...

     of the Afghan legislature
  • Nanawatai
    Nanawatai
    Nanawatai is a tenet of the Pashtunwali code of the Pashtun people. It allows a beleaguered person to enter the house of any other person and make a request of him which cannot be refused, even at the cost of the host's own life or fortune...

  • Kurultai
    Kurultai
    Kurultai is a political and military council of ancient Mongol and Turkic chiefs and khans. The root of the word "Khural" means political "meeting" or "assembly" in the Mongolian language, it is also a verb for "to be established"...

  • Thing (assembly)
    Thing (assembly)
    A thing was the governing assembly in Germanic and introduced into some Celtic societies, made up of the free people of the community and presided by lawspeakers, meeting in a place called a thingstead...

  • Witenagemot
    Witenagemot
    The Witenagemot , also known as the Witan was a political institution in Anglo-Saxon England which operated from before the 7th century until the 11th century.The Witenagemot was an assembly of the ruling class whose primary function was to advise the king and whose membership was...

  • Waziristan
    Waziristan
    Waziristan is a mountainous region near the Northwest of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan and covering some 11,585 km² . The area is entirely populated by ethnic Pashtuns . The language spoken in the valley is Pashto/Pakhto...


External links