Jirga draws mixed reaction from senators
KABUL(PAN): Some Upper House members on Sunday said convening a traditional jirga to decide on a key national issue was against the constitution, but others insisted the president had the right to consult elders on key questions.
President Hamid Karzai on Monday (April 11) said his government would convene a Loya Jirga in two to three months to take a decision on signing an agreement on strategic relations with the US.
"The US presented a draft document (on strategic partnership) two weeks ago and the document is still under review," Karzai said.
Article 110 of the constitution recognises the Loya jirga as “the highest manifestation of the will of the people of Afghanistan”.
Senator Syed Farrukh Shah Janab from Faryab province said the constitution attached great importance to the jirga and it should be convened to discuss major national issues.
"There is no mention of a traditional jirga in the constitution," he said, adding the Loya Jirga should be called in line with the constitution to make amendments to articles that created confusion. However, he did not elaborate on those articles.
Another senator, Abdul Wahab Irfan, from central Kapisa province, said the jirga was expected to decide on an agreement with the US on strategic cooperation. "A traditional jirga cannot decide on this issue for lack of authority. Therefore, the constitutionally mandated Loya Jirga should be convened."
But parliamentarian Fuazia Sadat insisted that convening a traditional jirga was in the interest of the country and it was the right of the president. "Our problems are solved through jirgas and we hope the proposed forum will be a success."
After a prolonged discussion, Senate Chairman Fazl Hadi Muslimyar said the president had the right to consult anyone on any national issue. "Only jirgas have the potential to reduce the gap between the government and people."
A Loya Jirga was convened last year and participants announced the creation of Afghanistan High Peace Council to initiate a dialogue with the Taliban and other militant groups on a negotiated end to the conflict.
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