Preparations for Loya Jirga in final stages
14 November, 2011
PESHAWAR: Despite denials by President Hamid Karzai's office, there are reports that the Afghan government was considering postponing the Loya Jirga that is scheduled to be held in Kabul on November 16 to discuss the proposed strategic partnership agreement with the US and other issues, including the reconciliation and peace process.
Some of the delegates to the Jirga have started arriving in Kabul at a time when there was speculation that it could be postponed. Around 2,000 delegates were expected to attend the event to be held in the large tent where the previous Loya Jirgas and other major events have been held in recent years.
The delegates include parliamentarians, known politicians, tribal elders, members of the intelligentsia and religious scholars. In fact, the categories of people invited to the Loya Jirga numbered 16. Women have also been invited to the Jirga and would form almost 20 percent of the participants, which would be a record.
According to reports, one reason that could lead to the postponement of the Loya Jirga is the concern that it could reject the proposed strategic partnership agreement between Afghanistan and the US. It was felt that anti-US and anti-Karzai groups had effectively lobbied against such an agreement and that there would be strong opposition during the Loya Jirga to the pact with the US. Some Afghan ministers and lawmakers have publicly opposed any such pact with the US that would allow the latter to maintain permanent military bases in Afghanistan.
There was a proposal to amend the agenda of the Loya Jirga by not discussing the proposed strategic partnership agreement with the US at the event if it wasn't possible at this stage to postpone the Loya Jirga.