Kabul all set to host jirga on US security deal
KABUL (PAN): Kabul will host an epoch-making consultative Loya Jirga from Thursday (tomorrow) to Sunday to debate the nitty-gritty of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US and advise the government on whether or not the deal should be signed, an official said on Wednesday.
Around 2,500 people’s representatives, tribal chieftains and others would attend the assembly, for which all the arrangements have already been finalised. A literal security blanket has been thrown around the city, where several busy entry points have been blocked.
National assembly and provincial council members, scholars, women, civil society groups, the Kuchi tribe, people with disabilities, traders, industrialists, rights activists, governors, presidential runners and representatives of refugees are also among invitees.
Numbering 532, elders from different parts and communities of the country constitute a vast majority of participants. “All requisite preparations are in place and participants have reached the capital,” the Loya Jirga preparatory commission spokesman said.
Abdul Khaliq Hussaini told Pajhwok Afghan News that the fourm, having 50 committees to thrash out the BSA text, would elect its board members after candidates were named by each category. Discussing only the agreement, the jirga will last four days.
Over the past two years, Afghanistan and the US have held several rounds of tough negotiations on how to shape a US military presence in Afghanistan after 20014, when all foreign combat troops are scheduled to leave.
Both countries reached agreement on a number of important issues, but the Afghan government has left the ticklish issue of US troop immunity to consultative Loya Jirga.
Some political and civil entities consider signing the pact an imperative for Afghanistan in the current situation, but others oppose the deal legalising the presence of US troops.
President Hamid Karzai invited Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan and the Taliban to participate in the event and share their views with the government. The HIA declined the invitation and the Taliban demonstrated their disagreement through a suicide attack in front of the jirga venue.
Meanwhile, the preparatory panel said a number of media outlets had released a fake draft of the pact, creating confusion among the masses. The commission said on the eve of such an important gathering, a number of groups had launched propaganda, but their falsehood had been exposed.
The commission insisted the document released was starkly different from the original one that was yet to be distributed to jirga committees.
American troop immunity and their unilateral operations are the main controversial issues in BSA. But the two sides agreed if the jirga gives US troops the right to search Afghan homes, President Karzai will guarantee the American military avoiding past mistakes.
The Government has announced six day closed holidays to address traffic jams and reinforce security in Kabul. A number of similar jirgas have taken place in Kabul over the past 12 years, including the constitution Loya Jirga and peace jirga.
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