Loya jirga

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Hamid Karzai appointed as President of the Afghan Transitional Administration at the July 13, 2002 Loya Jirga in Kabul, Afghanistan.

A loya jirga (Pashto: لويه جرګه‎) is a type of jirga regarded as "grand assembly," a phrase in the Pashto language meaning "grand council." A loya jirga is a mass meeting usually prepared for major events such as choosing a new king, adopting a constitution, or discussing important national political or emergency matters. It is also used for resolving disputes in Afghanistan, but also in the Pashtun areas of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA in Pakistan.[1] In Afghanistan, the loya jirga was originally attended by the Pashtuns, but later included other ethnic groups. It is a forum unique among the Pashtun tribes in which, traditionally, tribal elders meet together.[2]


The ancient Aryan tribes, who are hypothesized to have spoken Proto-Indo-Iranian, came down in intermittent waves from Central Asia and Afghanistan. They practiced a sort of jirga-system with two types of councils – simite and sabhā. The simite (the summit) comprised elders and tribal chiefs. The king also joined sessions of the simite. Sabhā was a sort of rural council.[3] It was used over time for the selection of rulers and headmen and the airing of matters of principle. From the time of the great Kushan ruler Kanishka to the 1970s, there were sixteen national loya jirgas and hundreds of smaller ones.[4] The institution, which is centuries old, is a similar idea to the Islamic "shura", or consultative assembly.[2]

In the Afghan society, the loya jirga is still maintained and very strongly practiced, mostly in front of tribal chiefs or with them to solve internal and external tribal problems or disputes with other tribes.

When the Afghans took power they tried to legitimize their hold with such a Jirga. While in the beginning only Pashtuns were allowed to participate in the Jirgas, later other ethnic groups like Tajiks and Hazaras were allowed to participate as well, however they were little more than observers. The member of the Jirgas were mostly members of the Royal Family, religious leaders and tribal chiefs of the Afghans. King Amanullah Khan institutionalized the Jirga. From Amanullah until the reign of Mohammed Zahir Shah (1933–1973) and Mohammed Daoud Khan (1973–1978) the Jirga was recognized as a common meeting of regional Pashtun leaders.

The meetings do not have scheduled occurrences, but rather are called for when issues or disputes arise.

There is no time limit for a Loya Jirga to conclude, and the meetings often take a long time because decisions can only be made as a group and arguments can drag out for days. Many different problems are addressed, like foreign policy, declarations of war, the legitimacy of leaders, and the introduction of new ideas and laws.


Some of the historical loya jirgas in the history of Afghanistan are:

Loya jirga of Kabul on June 13, 2002.
  • June 13, 2002 – July 13, 2002, The 2002 loya jirga of Afghanistan elected Hamid Karzai to oversee it. This was possible only because in the fall of 2001, Karzai was able to successfully lead one of the largest southern Afghanistan tribes against the draconian rule of the Taliban. The Loya Jirga was organized by the interim administration of Hamid Karzai, with about 1600 delegates, either selected through elections in 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 was scheduled to last about a week. It formed a new Transitional Administration that took office shortly thereafter.
  • 2006 — Afghan president Hamid Karzai said that he and the Pakistani president will jointly lead a loya jirga to end a dispute over border attacks.[7]
  • December 2009, after his disputed re-election, President Hamid Karzai announced to move ahead with a plan for a loya jirga to discuss the Taliban insurgency. The Taliban was invited to take part in this Jirga.[8]
  • June 2010, at Kabul, in which around 1,600[9] delegates of all ethnic groups attended for a peace talks with the Taliban.[10]
  • November 2013, at Kabul, in which around 3,000 are expected to attend to discuss the status of forces beyond 2014.[11]


On April 29, 2006, former Balochistan Chief Minister Taj Muhammad Jamali offered to arranged a meeting between President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf and a loya jirga (grand jirga) for peace in Balochistan.[12] A Grand jirga was held at Kalat in September 2006 to announce that a case would be filed in the International Court of Justice regarding the sovereignty and rights of the Baloch people.[13][14][15][16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Killing You is a Very Easy Thing For Us". Human Rights Watch. 2003-07-29. Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  2. ^ a b "Q&A: What is a loya jirga?". BBC News. July 1, 2002. Retrieved May 11, 2010. 
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ [2][dead link]
  5. ^ "Mirwais Neeka". Wolas.beepworld.de. Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  6. ^ Agha Amin, Resolving the Afghan-Pakistan Border Question, Journal of Afghanistan Studies, Kabul, (accessed December 12, 2009).
  7. ^ "Musharraf, Karzai to lead Loya jirga" (PDF). Frontier Post. October 1, 2006. 
  8. ^ "Karzai To Unveil Afghan Cabinet In Days". Rferl.org. 2009-12-06. Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  9. ^ Afghan jirga seen as 'last hope' for peace[dead link]
  10. ^ Afghan jirga to call for peace with Taliban[dead link]
  11. ^ "Afghanistan Loya Jirga will determine whether US troops remain after 2014". The Guardian. Associated Press in Kabul. 19 October 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  12. ^ "Leading News Resource of Pakistan". Daily Times. 2006-04-29. Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  13. ^ "Grand jirga in Kalat decides to move ICJ". The Dawn Edition. September 22, 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-11. 
  14. ^ "Baloch chiefs to approach International Court of Justice" (PDF). India eNews. September 26, 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-11. 
  15. ^ "Jirga rejects mega projects". The Nation. October 3, 2006. 
  16. ^ Akbar, Malik Siraj (October 4, 2006). "Baloch jirga to form supreme council to implement decisions". Daily Times. 

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