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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
More reactions to draft constitution (Eurasianet, NYTimes, Boston Globe, Voice of Afghan Women, CSM)
The following articles react to the draft constitution for the most part as regards its construction of the rights of women.
Eurasianet.org Human Rights: AFGHAN DRAFT CONSTITUTION WORRIES CIVIL-SOCIETY ADVOCATES 11/14/03 The draft constitution of Afghanistan seeks stability in an ethnically diverse country whose infrastructure barely survived 22 years of constant war. It outlines a central government with a strong president and embraces principles of independent media and civil law. However, gaps in the draft worry advocates for women and for religious freedom. Since the draft became public on November 3, groups advocating different strategies have highlighted different elements in it. Supporters of United States President George W. Bush have emphasized its commitment to United Nations accords on human rights and its emphasis on Afghanistan as an "independent, unitary and indivisible state." These prioritize stability and central government. But they do so in an explicitly religious context. As many observers expected it would, the Constitution asserts Islam as the state religion and bans any law "contrary to the sacred religion." Optimists take heart that Article Two stipulates: "followers of other religions are free to perform their religious ceremonies within the limits of the provisions of law." But the document's language leaves room, advocates say, for suppression of speech and crimes against women. The constitution, which a grand tribal council called a Loya Jirga is set to review and ratify in mid-December, seeks a fine balance. While expressing the primacy of Islam, it obliges the state to "create a prosperous and progressive society based on social justice." Ethnic harmony and "balanced development in all areas of the country" emerge as stated goals. Can these goals arrive when different Afghans view Islam and its legal applications in distinct ways? Muslim scholars have long debated how democratic codes can conform to Islamic law. [For background see the EurasiaNert insight archive]. Some say that Islam tolerates any political system that respects human dignity. [For background see the EurasiaNet Insight archive].Fundamentalists argue that an Islamic state has to impose limits on women's freedom, based on a strict reading of the Koran. The Afghan draft constitution requires that women comprise at least one-sixth of the bicameral legislature's upper house. But some say it leaves the door open for fundamentalist practices. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent advisory body to the American government, voiced strong objections to the draft. Members noted that the draft's second chapter allows "provisions of law" to override the "natural right" to life. They also object to language letting judges make decisions with Islamic law as a guide. Such language, commissioners say, could "allow for a religious orthodoxy to be officially imposed, stifling dissent within the Islamic tradition." As a remedy, the commission urges an amendment asserting individual freedom of conscience and belief. This would be a much broader freedom than the freedom to conduct non-Muslim religious ceremonies (which themselves would be subject to national law). The draft constitution does hedge against some fundamentalist tendencies. It insists that punishment for crimes must not transfer from one party to another, prohibits torture, and allows accused parties to hire lawyers. But the judges and lawyers animating these principles will work from unclear doctrine. The draft obliges the state to develop a "unified educational curriculum based on the provisions of ...Islam, national culture," and to reflect teachings of "Islamic sects." Opinions out of favor with such teaching may become the basis for punishment. While the draft stipulates that "every Afghan has the right to print or publish topics," it does not bar the state from tightly controlling media outlets. The Gender and Law Working Group, an international body whose chairperson is State Minister of Women's Affairs Mahbuba Hoquqmal, has pointed out other potentially troublesome gaps. For instance, while the document asserts plainly and optimistically that "the state prevents all types of terrorist activities [and] production and smuggling of narcotics," it leaves out a blanket prohibition of human trafficking. The Working Group, in comments on the draft, proposes adding this prohibition. It also suggests obliging the state to provide prenatal and neonatal care and inserting language throughout asserting women's equality. The structure of government, as laid out in the constitution, calls for broad and multiethnic representation. A President must have the majority of votes, which can arrive via a runoff of the top two candidates in a field. Presidents should be Muslims, citizens, "born of Afghan parents" and at least 40 years old. They cannot serve more than two terms. The president works with a bicameral legislature. The Wolesi Jirga (House of People) consists of 220-250 directly elected delegates; Meshrano Jirga (House of Elders) consists of appointees from provincial councils, from district councils, and from the president's list. Women must make half the pool of presidential appointees. Legislators have administrative say-so and can ratify treaties. The lower house can override vetoes. The draft acknowledges Afghanistan's violent history. It allows the president to declare a state of emergency for up to two months, during which he can transfer some functions of the National Assembly to the government. If a national emergency occurs at the end of his term, he can hold onto power (and extra, emergency powers) for up to four months pending another Loya Jirga. None of these powers will necessarily mean much if Afghanistan lacks a strong central authority. Security and warlordism remain major concerns for the country. Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, who spoke at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on November 13, said the constitutional process could dispel the "perception of Afghanistan as [consisting of] ethnically divided groups that will go on fighting forever." Afghanistan needs upgrades in security before that question, and questions about the constitution's intent, are likely to undergo wide debate.
The New York Times November 14, 2003 Afghanistan's Constitutional Effort lmost two years after the war, Afghans face growing insecurity, rising troubles with the Taliban and diminishing help from the West. A draft of a new constitution released at the end of October offers a first step toward real elections and a more humane society. This draft includes some promising aspirations, with a preamble that calls for observation of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and for a civil society with a "deserving place in the international community." But there are also troubling aspects of this crucial document, which will go before a constitutional convention next month for ratification. Above all, the draft lacks a clear promise to the Afghan people that their individual rights cannot be easily trumped. The document does not invoke Shariah, the Islamic law that, among other restrictions, does not tolerate dissent. But it says that no law can be contrary to the sacred religion of Islam. And it says the members of the Supreme Court should be educated in either civil law or Islamic law, a provision that raises the possibility of more judges who base their rulings on the Koran rather than civil law. Finally, although women would become part of the government, there is no separate acknowledgment of rights for women, a basic need for a country with Afghanistan's painful history. United Nations and American officials need to push for language ensuring the protection of core human rights in this document. The constitutional convention in December is expected to include many who want to make the final document more conservative. The time is right for the international community to weigh in. This constitution must provide an enduring promise to all the Afghan people that their most basic freedoms are inalienable, not to be granted or withdrawn easily by a government, its courts or its religious leaders.
Bias remains under the new law Boston Globe By Masuda Sultan and Hannibal Travis, 11/13/2003 AFTER MONTHS of debate and much anticipation, President Hamid Karzai has released Afghanistan's draft constitution. Unfortunately, it does not provide clearly for the human rights of Afghan women or mandate a change in laws used to oppress women in the past. The Constitutional Review Commission and Karzai should be commended for doing their best to reconcile Afghanistan's traditions with human rights and international law. However, they appear to have been hampered by the danger that strong guarantees of women's rights would trigger opposition by the warlords, who by all accounts will dominate the constitutional loya jirga, or assembly. According to Human Rights Watch, warlords are making death threats to warn moderates and women against running as loya jirga delegates and can be expected to do the same in the debates on the constitution. In this context, the constitution's drafters were effectively forced to negotiate against themselves, watering down provisions for women's rights so much that they may remain inadequately protected for many years. Afghan women say that some of the worst abuses of the Taliban continue, justified by discriminatory applications of religious law. Women across the country report that they are still being subjected to Taliban-like bans on their movement, education, and employment, bans that they were promised would end. Girls and women also continue to be forced into marriages, sold by their families to much older, often married men. An abused woman seeking a divorce is often arrested and jailed when she flees the home. Police typically refuse to release her unless she agrees to return to her family, even if it means a return to physical abuse. Adultery is a criminal offense, and honor killings go unsanctioned by the authorities. During the height of the coalition bombing of Taliban targets, Secretary of State Colin Powell decreed that once the Taliban fell, "the rights of the women in Afghanistan will not be negotiable." But Afghan women know that without specific constitutional protection against the discriminatory laws and practices of the past 25 years, these violations are likely to continue. Recently, 45 women leaders from across Afghanistan, including big cities and small conservative villages, participated in a Kandahar conference organized by Women for Afghan Women. The women drafted and unanimously agreed on a bill of rights for Afghan women to be included in the constitution. They presented the bill of rights to Karzai and the Constitutional Review Commission and made their case that the constitution must outlaw discrimination against women, forced and underage marriages, and the trading of unwilling women between families. They insisted that the constitution give Afghan women full rights of marriage, divorce, employment, education, voting, inheritance, and property. In the draft constitution, however, women are not explicitly guaranteed equal rights with men, as they are in the constitutions of neighboring Muslim countries such as Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan. One member of the drafting commission has been quoted saying, "There are some things in which you cannot make women equal, such as in marriage, divorce, testifying in court, inheritance, and even leadership of the nation." The draft also does not specifically outlaw discrimination against women, as do the constitutions of Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, and Turkey. Instead, it guarantees equality and civil rights to "citizens," without stating that women are citizens. And the draft constitution does not require abolition of laws that allow the police and the judiciary to imprison women and girls for running away from forced marriages and abusive homes. Worse, because its provisions barring warlords and war criminals from political office are extremely weak, the draft leaves the door open for the Taliban to retake power. There is no prohibition in the draft against Taliban or former Taliban occupying public office and imposing Taliban law, even though similar limits were imposed on Nazis, Japanese militarists, and other movements implicated in crimes against humanity. Taliban and warlords are banned from office only if they have actually been convicted of a crime, which few have been. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission will not be able to prosecute Taliban or other war criminals under the draft but must refer them to the courts, many of which are run by judges held over from the Taliban's reign. The idea of Taliban running for parliament is no fantasy. In fact, coalition forces recently released the Taliban's foreign minister from custody, and prominent Afghan officials have already invited him and other Taliban to run for office in the upcoming elections, something that millions of Afghan women are still too afraid to do. Masuda Sultan is program director for Women for Afghan Women. Hannibal Travis is an attorney in New York City.
RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC ________________________________________________________ RFE/RL Afghanistan Report Vol. 2, No. 40, 13 November 2003 THE DRAFT CONSTITUTION (PART 2): THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN AND ASSESSING THE MONOPOLY ON THE USE OF FORCE By Amin Tarzi In this part there is an analysis of women's rights and the monopoly over the use of force in Afghanistan's draft constitution. In the first part of this series, the powers of the president and the role of religion as proposed in the draft constitution issued by the Afghan Constitutional Commission (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 6 November 2003) were examined. Since the commission unveiled its official draft of the proposed constitution on 3 November, women's rights groups have already voiced their displeasure with the draft, suggesting that it lacks specific measures to safeguard the rights of female citizens in a country where customs and traditions favor male domination in almost every aspect of life and the law. Already, the Gender and Law Working Group -- an advisory body that reviews women's rights issues within the Transitional Afghan Administration's Ministry of Women's Affairs -- has proposed several amendments to the draft constitution (see "News" section below). While the issue of women's rights has received much attention in the press and by various organizations studying the Afghan draft constitution, the question of the monopoly over the use of force and the creation of a legal framework for the presence of foreign forces on Afghan soil has not been debated at any length. WOMEN'S RIGHTS The current draft, reviewed strictly textually and without appropriate regard for Afghanistan's history and social conditions, arguably contains no infringements on the rights of women. The language used in the draft does not distinguish between genders in any article. While the Dari language is not gender distinctive, the careful wording in the Pashtu version of the draft has eliminated any reference to gender regarding to the occupant of the office of the president or any other position. Not only does the draft constitution not deprive women of their rights, it affords female citizens of Afghanistan certain affirmative actions designed to promote their presence in the decision-making levels of the country. For example, in the election process for the members of the lower house of the Melli Shura (National Assembly) -- the Wolesi Jirga (House of People) -- the draft stipulates in Article 83 that "at least one female delegate should be elected from each province." Likewise the president, who under the provisions of Article 84 selects one-third of the members of the upper house of the Melli Shura -- the Meshrano Jirga (House of Elders) -- must appoint half "of these people from among women." But while there is an absence of "negative discrimination" in the draft constitution, the advocates of women's rights in Afghanistan are concerned with the lack of more specific language guaranteeing the equality of women in a strictly male-dominated society. This concern is clearly expressed in proposed amendments to the draft constitution spelled out by the Gender and Law Working Group on 5 November (see "News" section below). Those amendments would constitutionally "recognize the considerable role" that women play in Afghan society. If the proposals of the Gender and Law Working Group would be accepted, the constitution would actively prohibit those cultural and customary practices prevalent in Afghanistan that can work "against the dignity, welfare, or interest of women" -- such as forced marriages, denial of inheritance, or lack of participation in local tribal councils. The amendments also call for constitutional guarantees ensuring that women have "fair and just working conditions" and the freedom to marry a spouse of their own choosing. The constitution, if amended along the recommendations of the Gender and Law Working Group, would legally oblige the state to "provide special health services for mother and child during the period of pregnancy, delivery, and nursing." A cursory look at the incidents that followed the adoption of the first Afghan Constitution of 1923 justifies the apprehension of women's-rights advocates in Afghanistan and their demands for specific provisions in the new Afghan constitution to safeguard the rights of women. A year after the promulgation of the 1923 constitution, the Pashtun tribes in the vicinity of Khost began to rebel against the central government in Kabul, then led by King Amanullah. The actual cause of this rebellion -- referred to in most sources as the Mangal or Khost rebellion -- is still debated. The controversy that in fact led to the Khost rebellion may indeed not have been Amanullah's then-progressive constitution, giving women certain rights and privileges, but rather the disenchantment of the local tribes and religious leaders with regard to the king's centralization programs threatening their autonomy. Nevertheless, the leadership of the Khost rebellion comprised mostly ulama (religious scholars), and their official complaint was that the new laws of the country did not conform to shari'a, or Islamic law. While Amanullah was forced to amend the constitution in 1925, reversing some of the freedoms accorded to women, the rebellion eventually forced the reformer king to abdicate his throne and leave the country in 1929. Laws addressing matrimony, inheritance, and other family issues are a domain in which shari'a has traditionally had a strong influence in Islamic societies. In Afghanistan, the Islamic law codes also have been greatly influenced by tribal laws and customs -- albeit under the rubric of Islam -- which favor male domination in the society. As such, while the draft constitution as it stands has no provisions that would infringe on the rights of women, the fact that the country has been named an "Islamic Republic" and that Article 3 of the draft stipules that "no law can be contrary to the sacred religion of Islam" may allow conservative forces in Afghanistan to usurp the rights of women. Conservatives may seize this issue to reinforce the traditions that are assumed to be Islamic, or as a means to undermine the central government -- if that government does not follow their directives. THE MONOPOLY OVER THE USE OF FORCE One of the basic requirements of a sovereign state is the necessity of having a monopoly over the use of force. The drafters of the proposed constitution have envisaged the country as highly centralized, and the means and decision to use force are to be held solely by the president of the country. Article 64 of the draft stipulates that the president of the republic will be "the commander in chief of the armed forces of Afghanistan." However, what the draft omits are two main issues: one short-term and one temporary, and the other long-term or even permanent. In the short term, the draft avoids any discussion of the presence of international military contingents and foreign bases on Afghan soil. Article 41 of the draft prohibits "foreign individuals" from owning "immovable property in Afghanistan." It allows only the "the sale of estates to diplomatic missions of foreign countries and to those international agencies of which Afghanistan is a member." The draft does not state whether it is permissible to lease property to foreign military forces or international military organizations, such as NATO. Likewise, the draft fails to tackle the norms that will govern the relationship between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the multitude of foreign forces in the country. In the future, Afghanistan is to have its own military to safeguard the state's interests from foreign and domestic threats; foreign forces are expected to eventually leave the country. However, the draft constitution is scheduled to be approved in December, and foreign forces will presumably still be in Afghanistan at that time. Perhaps the draft constitution should include specific provisions to this regard in Chapter 12, titled "Transitional Provisions." Otherwise, the president's legitimacy, especially given the absence of an Afghan National Army at this time, may erode domestically. The more permanent question, not addressed at all by the draft constitution, concerns the role of various militia (some of which are currently much more powerful than the nascent Afghan National Army) and how they will or will not be incorporated into the country's future power structure. The constitution does not prevent the formation of militia forces, nor does it call for the disbanding of current forces under various warlords, commanders, and generals. In the draft constitution there is only one reference to the existence of militia forces, and it does not explicitly prohibit them. Article 35, discussing the formation of political parties, indirectly leaves room for the existence of militia forces by only prohibiting political parties from having "military or paramilitary aims and structures." Unless the new constitution for Afghanistan explicitly declares the illegality of any armed force within the country other than the Afghan National Army and perhaps certain tribal militia organized and supervised by the central-military structure, the future Afghan government will lack the necessary legal tools to disband the warlords and militias. A CONSTITUTION WITH THE FUTURE IN MIND The new constitution is not only the symbol but also the core tool in moving Afghanistan toward a new future. If the constitution is genuinely reflective of the aspirations of the people of Afghanistan -- as it claims in its preamble -- then it ought to take bolder steps to ensure a successful future for the country. It should not become a tool for various powers which might attempt to take hostage the progress of Afghanistan and its ability to become a viable nation-state. Without the freedom for Afghan women to exercise their right to vote without fear and intimidation, they cannot begin to be counted as equal citizens of their country. Let us remember that Kabul is not Afghanistan. Without a central army and a central police force with firm and abiding loyalties to the Afghan state, there can be no guarantee that Afghan women --- or men, for that matter -- will be able to exercise their constitutional rights. Today, unlike in the 1920s, the forces interested in a stable, forward-looking Afghanistan have foreign supporters that could help prevent a collapse of the system. This opportunity should not be wasted for short-term expediencies. To quote Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai, a "constitution will be meaningless without a central army, a central police force, without the measures that are necessary to give the Afghan people the freedom to exercise their right to vote" (see RFE/RL "Afghanistan Report," 18 September 2003).
November, 13 2003 The Final Draft of the new Constitution of Afghanistan: Hi Dear Friends: Every news is good news, and I welcome a strong central government for Afghanistan. We should, also be a realistic, and optimistic for any positive step concerning our beloved country. I thought the new constitution would be another hope for the long suffering brave women of Afghanistan. Frankly, I'm disappointed that there was not much about women's rights and their basic needs. There was not much about modern education to take the neglected, helpless, hopeful, talented, innocent kids of Afghanistan to the 21st century. There was hardly any mention about millions of hungry, homeless and jobless, and tired innocent Afghans. [How they would be able to rebuild their homes that completely leveled during the civil wars of 1992-1996?] There was not much about the unity, security, freedom and democracy, but all about "so much perks and power in the judiciary" and in the government branches. There was nothing about the millions of educated old and new generation who were forced to live abroad.[based on their adopted country's citizenship, they would be excluded from the higher government posts or policy makers.] I read the English version of the Draft the other day. I would like to read the Pashtu (Pashto) and Dari official version, [If there is in German, too.] then I will put my thought together again. It would be fair enough to say in plain and simple English language, that it was just wasted of time, golden opportunity, and the donors' money -- the slow reconstruction process. I am afraid that it will be the loss of US and International interests, once again-- when there are always new challenges that threaten the world -- and with the election just around the corner in the US too. Most assume, that the constitution-1964 is (was) an Islamic enough, untouched, and modern enough for the next many years to come. There was no need for another one at this crucial history and critical time of 24 years of war-torn neglected-Afghanistan. Its obvious that no one power of Afghan-Men-Politics would ever listen to me or you, and I'm just another face in the crowed of injustice and unfairness. But it's the Afghans obligation to want what is best for the innocent people and for the generation to come. During the former King rule, the government encouraged women to abandon their Veil, and turned the power to the family where it was supposed to be. Women had equal pay for equal work and equal value. Women had equal rights as men to hold, and to be elected to public office. It was before Women in Switzerland had the Right to Vote, and the Higher education was free and etc. Thanks to the mysterious new constitution for so much appreciation for "The Father of the Nation." Keep in mind, It's not going to be in the best interest of the Afghan's nation by siding [excluding] the humble King-Baba, and his honest and loyal supporters [like the last Loya Jirga] for the sake of special interests this time. How should we know that the people did realy not vote for the "Constitutional Monarchy" or else? The former king said in a short speech, "I hope there are principles in the constitution of Afghanistan that will take our nation toward prosperity and happiness, based on Islamic principles and democracy." "The monarchy will have no role in the leadership of the country under the new constitution, but it maintains the honorary lifetime title for the former king of "Father of the Nation," which was granted him last year." As an Afghan's woman, moderate Muslim, (as an out spoken, fair Non-partisan, very concern and active for the last-24 years.) I take the pride that Afghanistan was always (Hanafi Sunni school) a proud moderate Muslim country with high integrity and honor. I'm not sure what is the Islamic Republic name for? Iran or Pakistan?? We should all know --With regard to rights of women, Islam provides clear guidance that Men and Women are equals before Allah. Islam advocates equal rights for both men and women, but stipulates different duties. In the Qur'an men and women are equal in sight of God. No one is preferred over the other. Islam is the religion of equality. "O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honored of you in God's sight is the greatest of you in piety. God is All-knowing, All-Aware. (49:13)" Peace and justice for All, Fakhria Masom Alefi, Voice of Afghan's(women) www.Afghaninfo.org ****** PS - Greatly appreciated If any one would pass this to Mr. Karzai, Dr. Z. Khalilzad, Mr. Brahimi, to the experts of this constitution makers, and concern parties....Thanks, Fakhria ******************** > Final Draft Constitution English > Final Draft Constitution Pashtu and Dari ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------ September, 2003 FMalefi@AOL.com My point of views regarding of Draft of Transitional constitution of the government of Afghanistan: I recently received a copy of the most current Draft of the New Constitution of the government of Afghanistan from Prof. Dr. Hashemeyan, and (He sent to over 150 Afghans in four Continent.) my views requested for "Afghanistan Mirror" and would publish this month. In my view this document has neglected the basic civil rights (The violations of women rights and human rights are crimes against humanity.) and does not have much of the interests of the brave nation of the innocent Afghans. I would like to bring the attention of the political minds and scholars to this document. It can only serve to make the proposed constitution inclusive, and not exclusive. I would to bring to light several important points are as follows: 1. The brave women of war-torn-Afghanistan make up more than half of the population, have faced hardships unlike anyone during the occupations of the communists and fanatic fundamentalists for over 23 years. They also continue to suffer in the arena of politics and injustice at the hand of fanatic so-called leaders and gun-toting politicians. The new-constitution does not appear to give women equal rights with regards their place in society. Unfortunately, they continue to suffer like second class citizens. 2. Human rights or violation of women rights are against laws of civilized world. (Against the Charter of the United Nation, world laws, violations of Islamic and Afghan Law.) Men with guns have continued to pummel basic civility and respect for humanity, and perpetuated their crimes against humanity. They have also brought to ruins the work of our beloved forefathers, the treasures of our nation, and the suffering they brought about on the unfortunate people (women and kids) of Kabul and other provinces. Many people sacrificed their lives in defending the honor of their proud nation. The true Mujahadeen (men and women under bulldozerd, martyred or gone home after the Soviet defeated.) defended their country with pride and in the name of almighty Allah. However, none of the basic human rights and its defense is mentioned. Laws to prevent abuses, slavery, crimes against humanity are not touched upon. I have sent many letters to the transitional government-chairman to bring attention to the shortcomings. The attention of scholars and political minds must be included in the make-up of the constitution. 3. There must be specifics in the constitution regarding the changes that have come about in the lives of people that became refugees all over the world not out of choice. Afghanistan does not need any help or aid from Russia but certainly, needs its "rightful claim to war damage reparation inflicted by and because of the Soviet invasion." The peace loving world must not and should not forget the atrocities of the Soviets and what brought up on the innocent Afghans. Let us not forget some of the best and the brightest in most family under-bulldozerd by the Red-Armey and their pupets. Specific rights must be mentioned in the new constitution. 4. The proposed constitution is filled with mentions of presidential powers, his scope, rights and benefits which are not aligned with how a constitution should work: The leadership and political makeup of the country has not yet been defined or determined by the people of Afghanistan, nor have the people to accepted the proposed constitution or passed a referendum. The leader of the country has not yet been chosen. We must wait for the people to decide on the political system, which Afghanistan will operate under. A Constitutional Monarchy or a Parliamentary Presidency? Both systems have different modes of operation and nuances. In any accepted system, there has to be one chosen leader, and that one person should not do it all. · Judges must have degrees in political science or law. · The people should determine the rule of government. · The grand assembly's given rights in the constitution-1964 to the King and Prime Minister, the Transitional leadership cannot exercise those same rights now. The chairman of the current government cannot appoint non-elected officials. Any actions outside of the constitution are against the law unless ratified by Loya Jirga first. When the grand assembly congregates, the international community must keep a close eye on the progress of the referendum. The gun-toting politicians have to be controlled, so that they don't interfere with law-abiding citizens that will bring about positive changes. The people will have the right to elect their representatives. It is my hope that the "Free Will" of the people, basic civility, and women's rights should respected. Peace and Justice for All, Fakhria Masom Alefi Voice of Afghan's(women) www.Afghaninfo.org
Christian Science Monitor
November 14, 2003, Friday
Afghan women make political gain
By Ilene R. Prusher
They slipped the letter under Nafesa Baha's door one night. It
read: "Warning. If you continue in this process of trying to elect
women to the loya jirga, you will be targeted."
But Mrs. Baha decided the show must go on and got herself a gun. In
the face of such threats, she oversaw a new kind of election this
week: one for women only. Here in Logar, two women were chosen to
represent this deeply conservative province in a nationwide assembly,
or loya jirga, which will shape Afghanistan's constitution - and its
very future - when it meets in Kabul next month.
Thursday marked two years since the fall of the Taliban, who used an
extreme interpretation of Islam to force women and girls to stay home
and wear the all-encompassing burqa. Two years on, such limitations
have been loosened, but have hardly fallen away. In this province, an
hour and a half south of the capital, every woman who arrived for the
election at this heavily guarded and gated compound wore a burqa -
though the polyester blue shrouds disappeared once inside. Some said
they had to lie to their families in order to attend.
Baha, who heads the women's division of the constitutional loya jirga
committee for the province of Logar, says that she brought the
threatening letter to the local military commander. He issued her a
Kalashnikov and sent her on her way.
"I patrol around my house at night, and I keep it with me for
security," says Baha, letting loose a toothy grin that stands out
against her deep brown skin. "I decided that I'm going to keep doing
this no matter what, even if they try to kill me."
The concept of having women vote at women-only elections was intended
to get around the obvious difficulties women would otherwise face in
being elected to the loya jirga. The constitutional assembly, which
will convene Dec. 10, is meant to define what Afghanistan's future
government and system of justice will look like, providing an
important barometer of true regime change.
While a proposed constitutional draft, released last week, attempts
to strike a balance between being an Islamic republic and a
democratic one, rights advocates say the document doesn't go far
enough to ensure women will have better standing in a future
"In the new constitution, it says men are still allowed to have four
wives, and we want to end that," says Najiba Said, who was a delegate
to the last national assembly, citing one issue some women want to
change. Others are equal rights in such matters as divorce and
Of the 500 seats, a minimum of 64 of them are reserved for women,
allowing for the election of two delegates from each of Afghanistan's
32 provinces. But women can also be chosen in general elections, and
by President Hamid Karzai - who will personally appoint 50 seats.
Women might also be elected in other categories reserved for
minorities - such as the seminomadic Kuchis and refugees in Pakistan
and Iran - raising hopes among women's groups that close to a 100
women could participate.
Small cross section
Those who do participate tend to represent a rather minuscule cross
section of society. Only the literate may serve on the constitutional
loya jirga, and by most estimates, that's only about 10 percent of
Those invited to register for the vote were leaders in
nongovernmental aid groups, or were school teachers and principals.
Even among them, some had to fight to attend, while others skirted
the issue by not informing their husbands.
"I would love to participate in a loya jirga in Kabul, but my family
would never let me," says Rosia Abassy, a third-grade teacher. "They
would not have even let me come here today, so I just pretended I was
going out to teach school this morning."
There were some 60 women at this election, falling short of hopes for
a broader turnout. In some provinces there were more than 200,
according to a United Nations official who came to observe.
But the deeper one gets into territory where the Taliban and other
fundamentalist groups are said to be regaining ground, the more
difficult it is to get women out to vote.
In Paktika, a largely Pashtun province in the far southeast, "We have
no women registered for the elections at all," says Firouza Nawabi,
who is monitoring all of Afghanistan's elections for women. "We were
supposed to have an election on Nov. 3, but no women showed up."
Other areas have also been problematic. The commissioners are still
struggling to hold a valid election in the province of Parwan, north
of Kabul. No women from the Panjshir district - the heartland of the
Northern Alliance militia, which the US assisted in overthrowing the
Taliban - came to the election last Saturday.
"The mullah in the mosque announced that women cannot participate in
the elections," Nawabi sighs, before striding off to explain the
election ground rules for the women gathered in cliques on the carpet.
They were still getting congratulatory kisses when a rash of blue
blossoms sprouted from almost nowhere. Burqas emerged from bags and
were quickly refitted on the crowns of heads. The voters flipped
their flaps down and went home.
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.