Jirga Will Not Weaken Parliament: Jirga Organizers

KABUL: (MEP) – However many continue the upcoming Loya Jirga wields undue power over the all-important Kabul-Washington security pact, Sadiq Mudaber, the head of the Jirga organizing commission’s secretariat on Friday argued otherwise.

President Hamid Karzai’s decision to defer to a Loya Jirga judgment on the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), which would determine U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan after the NATO combat mission ends in 2014, has caught a lot of flak since the announcement was made in August. Some have called the decision unnecessary, others illegal.

But on Friday Mudaber defended the choice and its legality under the Afghan Constitution.

“In accordance with the 65th Article of Afghanistan’s Constitution, President Karzai has the right to consult with the people of Afghanistan, no matter their level, their class or their status. Based on that same right, President Karzai is consulting 17 categories of Afghanistan citizens, and their advisements will be written in a resolution,” Mudaber said, tolo news reported.

Whether for or against the BSA itself, many critics have taken aim at the Jirga under the assumption it now retains the authority to ensure the accord is either signed or dissolved.

Technically, however, both chambers of the Afghan National Assembly are going to vote on whether to finalize the BSA or not after the Jirga conclude.

“According to the law, the BSA needs to pass the approval of both houses,” Mudaber said. “The purpose of the Advisory Jirga was never to undermine the authorities of another important governmental institution. The Jirga has historical importance and parliament has its own.”

Nevertheless, many would likely say that Parliament’s power is only a rubber stamp, and that in fact whichever way the Jirga rules is the way MPs and Senators will vote, making the Jirga the de facto authority.

President Karzai has to give his signature to whatever Parliament decides anyway, so if the Jirga’s ruling does not hold sway over lawmakers’ stances it could over his.

“President Karzai will consider the advice of the people on whether the BSA should be signed,” Mudaber said.

Regardless of who makes the call, the implications of the decision are the same; in addition to no U.S. troops staying behind and a halt in aid flow, the failure of the BSA, would mean NATO and other allied countries have indicated they would not contribute residual forces and would likely disengage much of their involvement in Afghan affairs.

The Jirga is set to take place in Kabul next Thursday, November 21. Roughly 3,000 leaders from around the country of all different stations and backgrounds will convene for it.

The price tag of the gathering is an estimated 70-80 million AFG, all of which will come out of the national budget

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