|Kabul: 5:23 AM      |
Welcome to Kabul:Reconstructions. You can follow the information below, which has been gathered from a
number of sources by a number of participants (click on the names at left for bios), to reconstruct your
own picture of events in Kabul since this site was launched on March 8th, 2003 and, in a sense, since the
reconstruction of Afghanistan began somewhere in the winter of 2001-02.
Some of this information has been provided in response to specific questions submitted by visitors like you. Please note that this section of the project is now maintained as an archive and has not been updated since 2005. Click here to ASK A QUESTION.
Arian Mouj Sharifi
Contention over constitutional Loya Jirga delegations (IWPR)
After a week of rumours and denials, President Hamed Karzai has finally announced the worst-kept secret in town - approval of Afghanistan's new constitution is to be set back two months. A Loya Jirga, or grand assembly, will be convened to discuss and pass the constitution in December, not October as originally scheduled. The mechanism for choosing delegates for the gathering has only just been made public, and it has met with criticism and complaints from members of minority communities. The failure of the commission drafting the constitution to publish a final version by a September 1 deadline had already signalled that the process had fallen behind. And Reuters reported on August 28 that the commission's secretary Dr Farooq Wardak had said the meeting had been postponed - though he subsequently backtracked, saying it was not the commission's decision to take. Speaking after the delay had been officially announced on September 7, Wardak said that the drafting process had been held up because it was taking far longer than expected to sift through the tens of thousands of questionnaires and replies filed during the public consultation phase. He was satisfied that they would now have time to do this properly. "It is very important to involve public opinion in this constitution, and to produce a draft that draws on everyone's opinions," he told IWPR. Up to now the consultation has been about an unseen draft, but commission member Shukria Barakzai said that the constitution would be published far enough ahead of the Loya Jirga for people to get a chance to review and comment on it. "We can't say when the draft constitution will be released, but I can say that people will have access to it before the Loya Jirga is convened, so that they can then convey their ideas to us, either directly or through their representatives," she said. Wardak was keen to point out that the December date still met the original targets set for Afghanistan's political process, "The Loya Jirga will be within the period agreed in the Bonn accord, in December. It has not been delayed - it is just that we had previously proposed to Karzai's office that we hold the Loya Jirga earlier, but we couldn't because the public consultation had not been completed." But the changed date has unsettled many people, giving rise to speculation whether general elections - the final and critical step in the Bonn process - can really be held in June next year as the accord stipulates, and whether the interim government really wants them to happen so soon. Journalist Habibullah Rafi, who has written a number of studies on previous Loya Jirgas, is among the doubters, "The main point here is that the life of this non-professional government is getting longer, and the people cannot bear this government any more because it does nothing for them … the delay will have bad effects on the elections." Such questions over timing come just as the contentious issue of who exactly will get to attend the gathering to map the future shape of the country comes to a head. Last week a document was released showing how the number of delegates will be cut from the 1,650 who attended the emergency Loya Jirga in June 2002, to 500 this time round. It is proposed to invite 344 regional representatives, and to give 24 seats to refugees living in Pakistan and Iran, 64 to women, nine to nomads, six to internally displaced people in the provinces, and three places to the tiny Hindu and Sikh communities. Karzai will appoint the remaining 50 people personally. Commission press officer Abdul Ghafoor Liwal said that one of the most important changes was that this time, there will be no direct election; instead, delegates will be chosen from the ranks of those who attended last time. There also be a literacy requirement. However there have already been complaints from some members of minority communities about the number of seats allocated to them. Malik Abdullah Sulaimankhel, a well known member of the Kuchi - or Pashtun nomad - community from Paktika who was angered that he was left out last time, does not think the group, which numbers several million, is being fairly represented this time round. "I heard that a number of people had selected themselves as Kuchi representatives, but we don't know them," he said. Sona Ram Nuristani, a director at the tribal and frontier affairs ministry who was a delegate for the people of Nuristan in eastern Afghanistan at the last gathering, told IWPR that he was being pressured by powerful people not to put his name forward again. There are others incensed that under the selection rules, President Karzai gets to hand- pick 25 men and 25 women."People who are selected by the president will of course support and implement the ideas of the president," says Azizullah Wasefi, deputy head of the recently-formed monarchist movement Jonbesh-e-Wahdat-Milli-ye-Afghanistan. Wasefi is opposed to the entire political process, seeing it as the work of foreign interests, "This constitution and the Loya Jirga do not have the support of the people. Instead, they are about the wishes of the Bonn meeting." Rafi does support the process, but is also against the president getting such a large say in picking candidates to attend the Loya Jirga. And he adds that there is real concern about whether the smaller number of participants will just exacerbate the problems seen at the last assembly, in which military commanders grabbed the limelight. "The delegates for the Loya Jirga should be chosen from among the people, not like the emergency Loya Jirga where they selected themselves with the power of their weapons." Hafizullah Gardesh is a staff reporter for IWPR in Kabul. Additional reporting by staff reporter Farida Nezad.
Posted By: mariam   September 30th 2003, 2003 1:59 PM
Kabul: Partial Reconstructions is an installation
and public dialogue project that explores the multiple meanings and resonances of
the idea of reconstruction -- as both process and metaphor -- in the context of present-day Kabul.
www.kabul-reconstructions.net is an online discussion forum, information resource, and medium for the communication of questions and answers about the reconstruction between people inside and outside the city of Kabul itself.