, occasionally loya jirgah
, is a large meeting held in Afghanistan
, originally attended by Pashtun
groups but later including other ethnic groups. The attendees variously include tribal or regional leaders, political, military and religious figures, royalty, government officals, etc. The meetings are called irregularly, often by the ruler.
The word is from the Pashto language -- loya means "great" or "grand" and jirga means "council", "assembly" or "meeting".
In September 2001, there were four different loya jirga movements anticipating the end of Taliban rule. There was little communication between each of them:
- The first was based in Rome around Mohammed Zahir Shah, and it reflected the interests of moderate Pashtuns[?] from southeastern Afghanistan, the same ethnic group from which the Taliban draws much of its support. The Rome initiative called for fair elections, support for Islam as the foundation of the Afghan state and respect for human rights.
- The second was based in Cyprus and led by Homayoun Jarir[?], a renegade member of the Islamic Party of his father-in-law, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who fought a battle over Kabul with rivals before the Taliban took over in 1996. Critics of the Cyprus initiative suspected it of serving the interests of Iran. The members of the Cyprus initiative, however, considered themselves closer to the Afghan people and regard the Rome group as too close to the long-isolated nobility.
- Two less important initiatives were been based in Bonn and Pakistan.
Loya jirgas in the history of Afghanistan include:
- 1747 -- near Kandahar, attended by Pashtun representatives who appointed Ahmad Shah as the new leader.
- c1880 -- called by Abdur Rahman Khan
- 1930, September -- a meeting of 286 called by Mohammed Nadir Shah to confirm his accession to the throne.
- 1941 -- called by Mohammed Zahir Shah, to approve neutrality in World War II.
- 1947 -- held by Pashtuns in the Tribal Agencies administered by the British, to choose between joining India or Pakistan.
- 1949 -- called during a dispute with Pakistan, declared that it did not recognise the Durand Line forming the border between the two countries.
- 1964, September -- a meeting of 452 called by Mohammed Zahir Shah to approve a new constitution.
- 1977, January -- approved the new constitution of Mohammed Daoud Khan establishing one-party rule in the Republic of Afghanistan.
- 1985 -- to ratify the new constitution of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.
- 2002 -- organised by the interim administration of Hamid Karzai, with about 2000 delegates, either selected through elections in the various regions of the country or allocated to various political, cultural and religious groups. It was held in a large tent in the grounds of Kabul Polytechnic from June 11 and scheduled to last about a week. It will form a new transitional government to take office shortly afterwards.
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