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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 on constitution, Loya Jirga (Radio Afghanistan, H. Sadat, M.J. Hanifi)
KARZAI STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN NEW > CONSTITUTION > Radio Afghanistan (in Pashto & Dari) > Kabul, Afghanistan > December 10, 2003 14:50 gmt > > > (Announcer, in Dari) The 55th anniversary of > Universal Declaration of > Human Rights was marked in Kabul University's > auditorium today. The > head of the Transitional Islamic State of > Afghanistan, esteemed Hamed > Karzai and cabinet members attended the ceremony. > The ceremony was > inaugurated with recitation of verses from the Holy > Koran. We draw > your attention to its coverage. > > (Programme announcer, in Pashto) At this part of the > ceremony, we > cordially invite the head of the Transitional > Islamic State of > Afghanistan, esteemed Hamed Karzai, to deliver his > precious speech > devoted to the 55th anniversary of Universal > Declaration of Human > Rights. > > (Karzai in Pashto) In the name of God, the Merciful, > the > Compassionate (Some Arabic words) > > Human rights violations > > This is the second time that the Day of Human Rights > and Declaration > is marked in this hall. It is a pleasure for us that > the independent > human rights commission of Afghanistan is marking > this day for the > second time. This commission reminds us, the > government members and > the society in general, to observe the human rights > principles. > > Afghanistan has witnessed more human rights > violations and atrocities > than any other country. The country has experienced > a lot of pain and > sufferings. Therefore, it is a must for us to > observe and guarantee > the human rights more than any other society. > > We must keep in line with all the materials, > measures and rules which > guarantee equal legal rights for every Afghan, every > man, woman, > child and elderly person, and which secure their > rights of political > participation, rights of economic activities and > which protect them > from cruelties, oppression and pressure. > > There is no doubt that no society in the world can > progress or > achieve enduring peace and stability unless every > individual in > society has equal rights, and unless their basic > rights are > guaranteed. We understand that Afghanistan has > realized this fact > more than any other society. That is because, > Afghanistan has > witnessed pain. > > Justice > > There is a saying in Pashto (language) the field > that is burning is > the one which has been set on fire (he who is in > trouble feels more > acute pain). Cruelties and oppression were heavily > inflicted on > Afghanistan and the Afghans have burnt in their > fire. Now we have put > this fire out. > > There is no fire anymore, but the cinder is still > smouldering. This > smouldering cinder has been troubling our people and > may trouble them > again. The only way to completely put out this fire > and cool it down > is to practice what we believe in, which is our > religious obligation, > which is a requirement for justice and which is a > requirement of an > independent society. > > "A long way to go" > > There have been great developments in Afghanistan in > the past two > years in the fields of human rights, security, law > making, democracy > and law making (repeat) and securing the rights of > the people. But is > this enough? Have we had enough achievements or not? > Not at all, > > Afghanistan has a long way to go. It has a long way > to achieve the > stage when we as humans, as individuals, as a > society and as a > government feel satisfied that we have served this > country. I will > not talk about what we have done, but I will talk > about what we will > do. > > Our country's future constitution will guarantee > that Afghanistan > will not be ruined by its own people and sons. Our > country will not > be invaded by foreigners. Our country will not go > towards instability > and insecurity. > > Happy about Loya Jerga elections > > I can tell you that the Loya Jerga elections have > taken place well. > There are few complaints. Delegates have been > elected freely and they > are well-chosen. There have been limited complaints > in some places. > This happens in every society. > > This situation in Afghanistan, a country emerging > from a lot of > problems, is acceptable for us. I am satisfied with > the election in > general. Now I hope the Loya Jerga delegates and > members will decide > about the Afghan constitution and the Afghan future. > > Decisions should reflect national interests > > Their decisions should be in the national interests, > in the interest > of the entire Afghan nation, for the future of > Afghanistan's sons, > for stability in the future, for economic progress, > for political > sovereignty and a powerful and stable system. > > They should provide the nation with a constitution > that guarantees > the stability of this territory, consolidation of > the system, and the > establishment of stable and permanent (Pashto: > Dawamdar) governments. > They should thus provide grounds for the Afghans to > elect their > governments, leadership, ways of life and political > approach. > > Hopes for better future > > We hope that Afghanistan stands with those countries > which have > solved their problems, secured rights and have > become economically > strong and have given the opportunity to their > people to freely > participate in politics and elections and where > people have economic > activities in a free and peaceful atmosphere. > > May we be successful! Afghanistan is committed to > human rights. It is > committed because it has experience. It has had a > very bitter > experience. I am thankful to the head of human > rights commission (of > Afghanistan). We have included human rights in the > constitution. We > have made this constitution. Now it is up to our > people and their > delegates. > > (Karzai switches to Dari) The constitution is not in > our hands > anymore, it is up to the people what they will do > now. > > May you be in peace! May you be prosperous! Good bye
Afghanistan’s ‘loya jirga” for Iraq!? In a recent joint television interview US Senators Joseph Biden and Richard Lugar praised the “loya jirga” model used by the Kabul government and recommended its application to the reconstruction of Iraq. Before the complexity of the destruction of another state infra-structure is oversimplified and before a spurious adaptation of a tribal mechanism becomes a universal panacea for the rehabilitation of collapsed state structures in Central and West Asia we need to take a closer ethnographic look at this sodality essentially designed for dealing with differences in specific local settings. The jerga (with the first vowel as a short/soft ‘e’; assembly, council, gathering) is an informal ad hoc Pashtun tribal social arrangement for the resolution of specific local conflict. Usually convened adjacent to the local cemetery, the jerga seldom has more than two dozen adult male members. Decisions of the jerga are based on consensus; dissent is strongly discouraged and rarely allowed. Historicized in officially produced colorful fiction, various central governments of multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, and multi-tribal Afghanistan have invented a distortion of this strictly tribal mechanism of local importance as a loya (Pashtu, grand) jerga for rubber stamping their decisions about major internal and international issues and problems. Members of the loya jerga were always hand picked by the central government and, in spite of this, its decisions were frequently distorted and manipulated. Even though (government selected) the loya jerga in Kabul during June 2002 overwhelmingly preferred the former king as Afghanistan’s leader, its decision was sidestepped in favor of Hamed Karzai by the combined agency of the United States and Kabul governments. The loya jerga was invented by the central governments of Afghanistan in the context of a superficial state structure to co-opt and pacify the Pashtun tribes and to intimidate the non-Pashtun population of the country with the alleged numerical majority and historical reputation of the latter—a vicious divide and rule tactic of playing Pashtuns against non-Pahtuns. In reality these governments themselves were neither tribal nor Pahtun and it was a mere speculation that Pashtuns constituted a numerical majority in the country. Thus, the loya jerga has served as a major divisive element in the political life of modern Afghanistan and is especially (and understandably) resented by non-Pashtuns. Neither has the loya jerga has produced any tangible political and economic benefits for the Pashtun tribes of the country. Instead of expunging this tribal appendage from the political framework of Afghanistan, the current Kabul government has disingenuously incorporated the loya jerga in the recent draft constitution (section 6, articles 110-115) as the “highest manifestation of the wishes of the people of Afghanistan”! It is a grave political mistake to legitimize the foundation of democratic institutions in Afghanistan with a divisive political instrument that, in its essential format, does not permit dissent and is restricted to men only. To do so would be a great disservice to the people of Afghanistan and will, once again, make the Afghan state subordinate and vulnerable to the (albeit imagined) domination and threat of tribal ideology. The upheavals of the last twenty five years have produced in the people of Afghanistan a robust and articulate sense of history and ethnic, linguistic, regional, and sectarian consciousness. They will not be manipulated again by the contortions of an unrepresentative government. They will undo all that the loya jerga has (or will) impose on them as soon as lawlessness, rampant violence, and the threat of force are removed from their lives and when they have access to democratic participatory political processes. The state format of Afghanistan should be dissociated from the actual and symbolic tribal accessories. Its infra-structural details must realistically (and symbolically) reflect all ethnic, linguistic, and sectarian variations. For the transitional period of 10-15 years, an arrangement independent of the dominance of specific individuals, in the framework of a multi-tiered collective leadership, has substantially more viability than the current US-produced one-man rule and the “quick fix” approach for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Afghanistan. Iraq will do well without the Afghan version of loya jerga. The country has a firmer state structure and state-tribe relations have been constructed in such a way as to make tribe effectively subordinate to the state. And Iraq has a substantially more educated and professional component in its population. Afghanistan has a long way to go and, to achieve anything near the level of Iraq, it must first provide its population with at least one or two 1-12 grade cycles of education and, outgrow trappings of tribalism in the construction of its center. M. Jamil Hanifi, Ph. D. Retired Professor of Anthropology Independent Scholar Anthropology and the History of Afghanistan email@example.com
Constitutional Politics: Moderate Idealists and
Realists Debate the Afghan Constitution
By Hekmat Sadat
December 7, 2003
It seems as if everyone is disgruntled at the current
constitutional change. Some extremists have called a
jihad against President Karzai’s government and the
constitution, while other extremists are calling for a
return to the 1992 style of regime while strategically
allying themselves with the Karzai government.
While not employing violence, the moderates are also
at odds in the emerging political battle over the
constitution and future government of Afghanistan.
These moderates make up the civil society but are
grouped into the idealist and realist camps on the
According to the idealists, the success of the Afghan
constitution is based on false hope and circumstantial
assumptions. Without any tangible evidence, many of
these idealists are hoping that the moderates will win
power in the Loya Jirga and future government. Then
the constitution can be interpreted as well as
enforced by them in a sensible fashion.
Realists, on the other hand, belief that the
idealist’s theoretical assumptions are dangerous and
risky way of looking at the situation. They refute the
academic and conjecture argument that idealists make
in regards to the constitutional draft and debate.
Realists admit that many excellent points are stressed
in the current draft, the Afghan constitution may
become exploited to condemn every advocate of freedom
and liberty who seek to bring democracy, peace, and
justice to Afghanistan. Thus, extinguishing the hopes
of Afghans and providing a new bases for the
reemergence of extremist pro-theocratic elements eager
to hijack democracy.
The constitution threatens to establish a judicial
theocracy wherein official charges of blasphemy,
apostasy, and other calls could suppress advancement
and progress as visible in recent months in two at
least high profile cases by the current supreme court
who has already manipulated a revised 1964 liberal
constitution. The realists state what is to stop these
justices in a more conservative constitution such as
the current draft. While the English translation does
not mention theocratic law, version of the original
Dari and Pashto languages make references to
theocratic law. Like this difference, The constitution
promotes a dangerous nature even further because its
formula for constitutional interpretation is much too
While the document is no where near the edicts of the
last regime, nonetheless eleven separate articles in
the constitution transform the constitution into a de
facto theocracy. These articles restrict belief,
speech, and action unlike that of most free democratic
states. Without any parameters these articles will
become tools of manipulation by extremist
pro-theocratic elements and warlords to label those
who wish to usher in liberty and democracy. It is not
far fetched that a de jure theocratic state could
follow in the future through the amendment process.
The victims of these excess will have a tough time
seeking understanding from members of the Supreme
Court as they are encouraged to have no civil law
exposure but can be graduates of the madrassas
(seminary schools where the Taliban studied). The
idealists argue this may be exactly what the Afghan
people desire. The realist reject this idea because
there is no quantifiable measure or mechanism to
assess this assumption especially since only 2% of the
population was consulted during the consultation
phase. This raises the question of whether 25 million
Afghans want a jihadi constitution and pro-theocratic
government. What seems to be apparent is that trust is
placed with pro-theocratic elements and warlords
rather than in moderates.
Furthermore, this constitutional draft implicitly
legitimizes gender bias against women by not
recognizing the equality of the spirits of men and
women and their respective rights. Women underwent a
terrible fate at the hands of pro-theocrats and it is
necessary that the constitution explicitly resolve
this issue to prevent further violations against them.
Similarly, this constitution discriminates against the
native inhabitants of Afghanistan, the Hindus and
Sikhs, who were prosecuted and expelled at the hands
of pro-theocrats. From a long list of languages which
are to be promoted by the state, the language hindu
Afghans speak is omitted although comparable to that
speaking Pashaei. In addition, the implicit language
in the oath of allegiance taken by the president,
ministers, and supreme court justices disenfranchise
Hindus and Sikhs from ever taken such an office.
Furthermore, realists argue that this draft will be
modified to become more theocratic when the Loya Jirga
pressured by warlords and pro-theocrats meets to
ratify the constitution in December 2003. The
conservative establishment fear a true democracy in
Afghanistan as power of the people would denote their
extinction. Nonetheless, a democracy shrouded by some
restrictive values will never empower the people but
only reinforce the cartel role of pro-theocrats and
While idealists are wooed by the prospective
assumptions that everything will work out fine,
whereas the realist state that the upcoming Loya Jirga
must be urged to include specific explicit articles on
liberty and freedom of conscience, belief and speech
without other laws limiting these enshrined rights.
The crucial language ensuring protection of core human
rights to be explicitly introduced into the
constitution. The constitution must assure all people
residing in Afghanistan to be granted the most basic
freedoms not be easily withdrawn by the government or
any other establishment.
If the Loya Jirga accomplish this task as well
resolving some of the structural flaws, then Afghan
constitution has the makings of a grand tool that will
promote democracy, human rights, and individual
liberties, and respect for religion and culture.
Furthermore, the constitution must mention that
children, orphans, disabled, widows, and other
underprivileged must be protected and promoted by the
government. The key to Afghanistan's success will be
its ability to translate this constitution into law &
order, national reconciliation, economic development,
and a civil society something which both idealist and
realist wish to realize.
Debate on the constitution may involves the analysis
of legalist who serve as technicians of the document.
However, it also involves ordinary people who possess
the sociopolitical and economics input for the
document. The moderates in light of technical disputes
are opening the way for pro-theocratic elements to
hijack the Loya Jirga process and resolution.
Idealists must realize that a victory for the
pro-theocratic elements results in disenfranchisement
of moderates, whether realists or idealists, from
constitutional debate and even suppression.
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.