Civil society sees no need for Loya Jirga
KABUL (PAN): Afghanistan’s Civil Society Network (ACSN) on Monday said there was no need to convene a Loya Jirga on the security pact with the US in the presence of parliament, claiming most of attendees had been recommended by the government.
The consultative Loya Jirga is scheduled to take place on Thursday, with nearly 500 delegates having already reached Kabul to attend the assembly, which will advise the government whether or not to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA).
The deal, if signed, will allow 10,000 to 16,000 American troops to stay in Afghanistan until 2024 after the formal withdrawal of combat forces by the end of 2014.
Afghan officials say the US has sought the Bagram airbase as the only independent military facility for use after 2014 under the BSA. If allowed by Kabul, the US will deploy its troops to eight areas across the country for training Afghan forces.
ACSN spokesman Syed Nasir Mosawi told reporters in Kabul that there was no need for a Loya Jirga on the BSA in the existence of parliament and provincial councils.
“If the parliament rejects whatever advice the jirga gives to the government, then what is the logic in convening the tribal forum?” he asked. He argued arranging the jirga was an expensive, which the impoverished Afghan nation could not afford.
Mosawi claimed most of the jirga’s participants had been recommended by officials in provinces and they could not represent the masses.
However, the Loya Jirga’s preparatory panel spokesman, Abdul Khaliq Hussaini Pashai, rejected the claim that delegates had been recommended by officials. He said they had been selected by local communities.
He added 140 civil society activists had been invited to the forum and the society had elected these individuals. Pashai said members of both houses of parliament, provincial council members, governors, religious scholars, women’s representatives, tribal elders, representatives of the Kuchi tribe and refugees, legal experts, traders and others had been invited to the jirga.
Mosawir said the jirga’s outcome could not represent the views of Afghans, but would only reveal the government’s intention.
Officials say the president is authorised to convene such gatherings to advise the government on key issues of national importance.
The activist said the US wanted to immune its troops from Afghan laws and instead prosecute them at home in case of committing crimes in Afghanistan. He believed the US would not award its soldiers a punishment they deserved.
The network later issued a statement, saying that if the Loya Jirga gives American troops immunity from Afghan law, it would be a great injustice to the people. The statement alleged in countries where they had been given immunity, the Americans had never been honest to their pledges.
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