Editorial

Holding ‘Consultative Loya Jirga’ on peace process

Addressing the “National Consultative Meeting on Peace” at the Presidential Palace here last week, President Ghani called for holding of a Loya Jirga or Grand Assembly on the basis of the advice of delegates of the conference to help “dignified” peace in the country.
“At the Jirga, people will hold discussions on the nature of the peace talks and the post-peace government in Afghanistan,” said the president, tasking his Special Representative on Regional Affairs for Consensus on Peace to speed up efforts for convening the Jirga by the end of March. 
President Ghani’s propose of the Jirga comes at a time that Taliban has constantly refused to hold direct talks with the Afghan government. The group has met four times with the United States officials in the last four months as well as one time with Afghan politicians in Moscow this month.
But president Ghani has emphasized that to have a dignified peace, there should be no gap between government and the nation, adding those who are trying to take the process to other direction, they must rethink.” Meanwhile the president has reiterated his call on the Taliban to engage in direct talks with the Afghan government and avoid further bloodshed in the country. 
This is while that a number of prominent Afghan politicians, former government officials and heads of political parties have welcomed President Ghani’s call for a grand consultative jirga, a traditional assembly, on the Afghan peace process.Among others, former president Hamid Karzai reacted to Ghani’s call and said a jirga was the only way to move forward and will help the peace process. 
There is no doubt that large portion of Afghan people is tired of war and violence and calls for peace and security to end their woes and miseries. But it does not mean that they are ready to pay cost to the extent that ruins or threatens achievements made during past eighteen years with the help of international community and expenditure of billions of dollars. In everything there is a limit and the limitation for achieving peace is enforcement of all articles of constitutions.
A Loya Jirga, or “grand assembly” is a mass national gathering that brings together representatives from the various ethnic, religious, and tribal communities in Afghanistan. The Loya Jirga is a centuries-old institution that has been convened at times of national crisis or to settle national issues. Historically, it has been used to approve a new constitution, declare war, choose a new king, or to make sweeping social or political reforms.
According to the Constitution, a Loya Jirga is considered the “highest expression” of the Afghan people. But it is not an official decision-making body. Its decisions are not legally binding and any verdict it hands out must be approved by the two houses of the Afghan parliament and the president in order for it to be made official.  Unofficially, however, the Loya Jirga’s decision is seen as final, with the president and parliament expected to respect the ruling.
Since Afghanistan is going through a very sensitive situation, where efforts accelerated for peace talks with Taliban and US forces are also reportedly preparing for drawdown from Afghanistan. Therefore, President’s call for holding of Loya Jirga is of immense important.
Loya Jirga, which is introduced the highest manifestation of public will, plays a crucial role in social and political arenas. Since many countries have an institution for making decision about important political issues, Loya Jirga is a reasonable and necessary institution and the decisions to be made on peace process would be destiny making for people and the country. 

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