Arian Mouj Sharifi
More articles on end of CLJ (Washington Times, AP, IWPR)
The following summarize course of CLJ as well as its conclusion. I have also put a link to the Institute for War & Peace Reporting Afghanistan reports page below; the archives have even more of their articles on the CLJ and other reconstruction-related topics.
January 10, 2004
The Washington Times
Afghans write constitution version
By Roland Flamini
UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL
WASHINGTON, January 12 (Online): The point when the 502 delegates to
the loya jirga (grand assembly) realized the extent to which things
were changing in Afghanistan was probably Dec. 17, when Malalai Joya,
a 25-year-old delegate, stood up and denounced several of those
present as criminals who deserved to be tried for crimes against humanity
To Afghans, what was remarkable was not just that she had the courage
to speak up, one observer said, but that she is still alive - though
under the United Nations' protection. Miss Joya was referring to
warlords who had collaborated with the Taliban regime in exchange for
retaining control of their territories - a grip they retain.
That was only one of the many skirmishes, confrontations and arguments
that punctured the proceedings as rival interests represented in the
assembly came to a head. In the end last Sunday, a version of the
draft submitted to the loya jirga on Dec. 14, bristling with about 40
amendments, won approval by acclamation with no vote taken, The
Washington Times (USA) reports.
According to the new constitution, Afghanistan will have a strong
presidential system with a directly elected president, two vice
presidents and a two-chamber national assembly consisting of the
Wolesi Jirga (House of the People) and the Meshrano Jirga (House of
Zahir Shah - Afghanistan's last monarch who returned to Kabul in 2000
after years in exile - is formally recognized as the father of the
country but has no official role in running it.
The addition of a second vice president where the draft constitution
had originally called for only one was a concession forced on interim
President Hamid Karzai at the insistence of the Northern Alliance, the
ethnic minority coalition that, with strong U.S. air and ground
support, waged the successful offensive against the Taliban.
The 160-article charter makes the president commander in chief of the
armed forces and charges him with determining the nation's fundamental
policies. But in another concession to ethnic rivals, the new Afghan
lower house has considerable veto power over senior appointments and
Even so, with the president acting as both head of state and head of
government - there is no prime minister - Mr. Karzai still emerges as
a powerful figure.
Presidential elections are scheduled for June, and possibly assembly
elections as well, the report said.
Members of the Wolesi Jirga will be elected by district to serve for
five years. The upper house will consist of a mix of appointed and
elected members. One-sixth of its representatives will be women,
appointed by the president, who will also nominate to it two
representatives of the physically disabled, and two of Afghanistan's
The lower house will pass laws, approve budgets and ratify treaties -
all of which will require subsequent approval by the Meshrano Jirga.
The constitution also divides the country into 32 provinces, each
governed by a provincial council with members elected for four-year
terms. Every village and town will also have councils, but at this
level members will serve for three years.
On the face of it, women gained status during the weeks'
deliberations. The final document specifies that women have equal
rights with men - a key demand by human rights campaigners and a
dramatic reversal of their secondary role under the Taliban. After
heated debate, the conference - grudgingly, according to some present
- also agreed that at least two women should be elected to the Wolesi
Jirga from each province, guaranteeing them 64 of the 320 seats.
But some observers felt the new constitution's reference to the role
of Islam could make the position of women less secure than it seems.
Although Afghanistan will have a civil law system and there are no
separate religious courts, the original draft was amended to say: "No
law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred
religion of Islam.
Observers said this left the laws subject to the interpretation of the
Supreme Court, traditionally controlled by conservatives, who could
undermine women's gains. To some, the Shariah, or Islamic law, had
been let in by the back door.
The constitution recognizes 14 ethnic groups, and in a last-minute
compromise on official languages, does not designate a "national
language." But it names Pashtu - spoken by Afghanistan's ethnic
majority - as the language of the Afghan national anthem, and Dari as
the other main language.
When the Uzbek minority from the north pressed for its language to be
considered a main language as well, it was decided that six ethnic
minority languages, including Uzbek and Turkman, would have official
status in the regions where they are most widely spoken.
Meanwhile Ishaq Sharyar, Afghanistan's ambassador to Washington, said
the new constitution is historic as the first one produced through
Earlier Afghan constitutions had been drawn up by the king and his
Who would have thought that 500 Afghans from different points of the
country could come to an agreement? It's a tribute to [Mr.] Karzai's
leadership," he said.
Although commentators hailed the constitution as a breakthrough and a
personal success for Mr. Karzai, they said the real test would be
implementing it. In Kabul, the NATO-backed International Security and
Assistance Force was a major restraining presence. But large sections
of the country remain largely unpoliced, with warlords still in
control of several regions.
Right on cue Tuesday, a bomb attached to a bicycle in Kandahar killed
at least 13 persons, most of them children, and injured dozens more.
It was a reminder, as U.N. Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi had warned
the delegates, that "there is no rule of law in this country yet.
Mr. Brahimi and U.S. diplomats played a key role in preventing the
loya jirga from collapsing. But the real challenge for the
international community is in making the new constitution stick by
bringing security to Afghanistan, Mr. Sharyar said. "The basis is
there in the form of the peacekeeping force in Kabul. It needs to be
expanded," the ambassador added. "A sense of security will unite the
people, and work can begin on the reconstruction.
Observers said there were signs that the success of the loya jirga had
encouraged the Bush administration to focus renewed attention on
Afghanistan as a welcome antidote to the setbacks of the Iraq occupation.
January 26, 2004 8:25 AM Eastern Time
Afghan president signs post-Taliban constitution into law
By STEPHEN GRAHAM
The Associated Press
President Hamid Karzai signed Afghanistan's new constitution into law
Monday, putting into force a charter meant to reunite his war-
shattered nation and help defeat a virulent Taliban insurgency.
Seated next to Afghanistan's former King Mohammed Zaher Shah in a
palace at the Foreign Ministry, Karzai signed a decree formally
declaring the 162-article document ratified earlier this month as the
country's supreme law.
"Congratulations!" he called to Afghan leaders who helped draw up the
new charter, as Cabinet ministers and foreign diplomats applauded at
the brief ceremony.
The step was just the latest under a U.N.-sponsored peace drive
designed to rebuild the Afghan state since a U.S.-led invasion drove
out the Taliban two years ago.
The constitution outlines a tolerant, democratic Islamic state under
a strong presidency - as sought by Karzai - a two-chamber parliament
and an independent judiciary.
Ratified Jan. 4 after a sometimes bruising debate at a 500-member
loya jirga, or grand council of representatives from across the
country, the text also declares men and women equal before the law -
a victory for human rights advocates.
Karzai has praised the constitution, which also recognizes minority
languages while giving few powers to provincial authorities, as a
chance to pull the country together after nearly a quarter-century of
Celebrations of its adoption have been tempered by a fresh wave of
attacks across the south and east of the country blamed on holdouts
from the hard-line Islamic Taliban and their anti-government allies.
About 60 people have been killed in violence in the past three weeks -
including 15 civilians, most of them children, who died in a Jan. 6
bombing in the southern city of Kandahar.
A remote-controlled bomb exploded Sunday night along a road near the
capital of Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province, where U.S. troops
have a base, causing no injuries, an Afghan security official said.
The explosion occurred near Nawabad, about a mile southeast of
Asadabad, the province's capital, said Haji Jehandad Khan, the chief
of border security of Kunar.
The same night, two U.S. helicopters attacked an area about three
miles southeast of Asadabad, Khan said.
Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, a U.S. military spokesman, said he had no
information about any operation Sunday by American aircraft in Kunar.
The targeting of the bombing was unclear, or whether it was linked to
the bombing, which damaged a bridge. Khan said there were no
casualties from the U.S. strikes.
Anti-government militants loyal to Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
are believed to operate in Kunar and nearby provinces. Hekmatyar, a
former prime minister, has linked up with Taliban and al-Qaida
holdouts to oppose U.S. forces and the Afghan government.
The United Nations has warned that countrywide elections to be held
under the new constitution in June may have to be delayed because of
poor security, and can only go ahead at all if the situation improves.
So far, only about 500,000 of the estimated 10 million Afghans
eligible to vote have been registered, and U.N. teams have yet to
venture into the riskiest areas.
Karzai is widely expected to win the presidential vote.
Loya Jirga: Roundup of Proceedings
Historic assembly produced plenty of controversy and, in the end, a
By IWPR staff in Kabul and London
(ARR No. 101, 26-Jan-04)
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
The approval of a new Afghan constitution took weeks of wrangling
between delegates at the Loya Jirga, or Grand Assembly, and
represents a compromise between various interest groups.
The 502 members of the Loya Jirga, who had been debating amendments
to a draft constitution since mid-December, passed the final version
on January 4.
The document sets out the basic institutions for a constitutional
democracy in which Islam is accorded a central role, and in theory
should make it possible to hold elections this year, as envisaged in
the original Bonn agreement of December 2001.The document proscribes
a strong presidential system with a two-chamber national assembly.
Observers say the new constitution could help bolster the rights of
Afghan women and help resolve ethnic rivalries within the country.
Although some have expressed reservations about the way in which the
document was drafted and amended - often far from the floor of the
grand tent - it has been widely hailed as a step forward for
IWPR carried daily updates of the proceedings and analysis of the
issues raised at the Loya Jirga. Following is a round-up of events at
the meeting, as covered in our reports. There are links to relevant
ORGANISING THE LOYA JIRGA
The adoption of a new Afghan constitution marks the end of a long
process which began on October 2002, when Karzai appointed the
Independent Constitution Drafting Commission to prepare an initial
A Constitutional Review Commission, set up in April 2003 to organise
public involvement in the process, organised over 500 gatherings
nationwide at which the constitution was discussed by around 150,000
people, giving officials a chance to gauge public opinion on the
matter. Radio programmes, posters and a magazine were also produced
in an effort to make the document more accessible to the general
After a series of delays, the draft constitution was finally
presented to the Loya Jirga for debate on December 14. At this
sitting, the assembly consisted of 502 delegates, 450 elected to the
post and 52 appointed by the president. They met in a vast marquee on
the grounds of Kabul Polytechnic.
On the first day of the sitting Sibghatullah Mujaddidi, a moderate
ally of Karzai and one of the president's 52 handpicked delegates,
was voted chairman. Four deputy chairpersons, including female
delegate Safia Saddiqi, were also selected.
The Loya Jirga was now ready to begin debating the constitution,
amending and approving the draft piecemeal until all delegates
approved of its content.
The assembly was broken up into ten working committees, each of which
chose its own head. The committees then debated the legal provisions
in private and their views were passed on to a coordinating committee
whose 38 members were made up of the leaders of the working
committees and their deputies, representatives from the drafting
commission, observers from the United Nations Assistance Mission in
Afghanistan and the elected leadership of the Loya Jirga.
The commission had the task of formulating revised drafts of
constitutional articles in light of the feedback from the working
committees, and presenting them to the whole Loya Jirga assembly so
they could be accepted or rejected.
RESERVATIONS ABOUT THE PREPARATIONS
A number of observers were critical of the way the Loya Jirga, and
the drafting and public consultation processes leading up to it, were
Some resented the enormous influence wielded by the former militia
commanders and many even said the former mujahedin representatives –
or "jihadis" – were so powerful that they were afraid to disagree
One female delegate, Malalai Joya from Farah province, caused outrage
on December 17 when she spoke out against the mujahedin leaders,
saying many of them were war criminals who should face trial.
Delegates called her a communist and an atheist – both serious
insults in Afghanistan – and Mujaddidi tried to have her removed,
although he later said he had simply been concerned for her safety.
Mohammad Ashraf, a delegate from Mazar-e-Sharif, told IWPR that the
way the assembly had been broken down into working groups increased
the influence of the mujahedin. "I am opposed to these committees and
groups," he said, "because all the jihadis stand at the top of the
groups and they want to impose their beliefs on others."
Others were unhappy that former Taleban officials were allowed to
take part in the assembly, although Afghanistan's Independent Human
Rights Commission said it had no problem with this because they had
been elected by the people.
Some female delegates also said they felt intimidated by the
atmosphere in the assembly. (See ARR No. 88: Women Still Silenced.
Other observers expressed reservations about the processes leading up
to the Loya Jirga sitting. The International Crisis Group think-tank
said the drafting process was undemocratic and favoured factions
already in power. Others said the election of delegates was badly
organised and there were also signs that the attempts at public
consultation had been largely unsuccessful.
PRAISE FOR ASSEMBLY'S ACHIEVEMENT
These expressed reservations notwithstanding, reactions to
Afghanistan's new constitution have been largely positive.
While chairman Mujaddidi waxed lyrical about the "pious and
beautiful" conclusion to the Loya Jirga, President Karzai said the
aspirations of all Afghans had found a place in the new constitution.
"I want Afghanistan to be cleared of prejudice and hate," he said. "I
want an Afghanistan in which everyone respects each other."
But he noted that there is much work still to be done. "The
constitution cannot exist just on paper," he said. "The constitution
will be law when it is practiced. And I will implement this law. And
if I don't, remove me." UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi told
delegates at the ceremony that the UN was pleased with their
work. "Is the constitution perfect? Probably not," he said. "Will it
be criticised? I feel it will be, inside Afghanistan and outside
Afghanistan. But you have every reason to be proud and see this as a
new source of hope."
Laying the foundations for future Afghan politics, the new
constitution describes a presidential system with a two-chamber
parliament, the National Assembly. The assembly consists of the
Wolesi Jirga, or House of the People, whose members are elected, and
Meshrano Jirga, or House of the Elders, made up of a mixture of
elected and appointed representatives.
The president is directly elected and, as head of both state and
government, appears to have wide-ranging powers. There will be two
vice-presidents, named as running-mates when presidential candidates
declare themselves. The president has to be over 40, and a Muslim.
Former king Zahir Shah is named "Father of the Nation" – a purely
ceremonial title which will disappear on his death.
Whilst largely carrying this system through from the original draft,
delegates added the proviso that parliamentary approval be required
for the president's decisions concerning matters of state policy. It
remains to be seen how this will be interpreted and whether it will
hamstring the president, or prove to be a mere formality. (See ARR
No. 86: President's Powers Questioned.
The new constitution requires that "every effort" be made to hold the
first round of parliamentary and presidential elections at the same
time. In the meantime, the current government will fulfil the roles
assigned to the national assembly in the constitution. This has been
amended from the original draft, which required that parliamentary
elections be held within a year of presidential elections.
The final document also contains a provision for a commission to
oversee the implementation of the constitution itself, apparently
intended to replace the Diwan-e-Aali, or High Council, a supervisory
body proposed by delegates from the former mujahedin parties,
or "jihadis", at an earlier stage in the proceedings.
It is not entirely clear what the alternative commission's role will
be, or whether it will have the power to rule on the
constitutionality of new laws – a task otherwise assigned to the
Supreme Court – but its creation was an important compromise in
accommodating to some extent the wishes of the mujahedin delegates.
Many had feared that the proposed Diwan-e-Aali would be dominated by
mujahedin leaders, giving them free rein to interpret and implement
the constitution on their own terms.
ROLE OF RELIGION
Discussion of religious issues throughout the three-week sitting was
heated and a number of delegates took part in a boycott on January 1.
The boycotters gave a variety of reasons, though many of them were
jihadi leaders or their supporters. Another group was protesting that
assembly chairman Sibghatullah Mujaddidi called them atheists for
suggesting that the word "Islamic" should be left out of the proposed
title "The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan".
The final document states explicitly that "The religion of the state
of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sacred religion of
Islam", thus putting the faith at the heart of the state as well as
Whilst Islamic law is given an explicit place in the final draft it
is, at least on the face of it, a limited role. Article 130 says that
Hanafi jurisprudence – the school of Sunni law that prevails in
Afghanistan – should provide a guide when no explicit laws apply. At
the same time, Article 131 says Shia jurisprudence should be used in
personal matters affecting the minority religious community, or when
no other laws apply. (See ARR 100: Shia Make Constitutional Gains.
The overarching system described is a civil law system. The clergy
have no official status as such, and it is also stated
that, "Followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith
and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions
of the law".
But much could depend on Article 3 – "In Afghanistan, no law can be
contrary to the sacred Islamic beliefs and commands" – which some say
could, in the hands of a conservative Supreme Court, open the back
door to Sharia law.
Women were far better represented in the latest Loya Jirga than at
the emergency session held in June 2002, where only 200 of the 1,650
delegates were female. This time there were 100 women out of 502
members. Two female delegates were elected by assemblies of women in
each of the 32 provinces, with another six representing special
groups including Kuchi nomads, domestic refugees and Afghans living
in Iran and Pakistan. Another five were elected in general provincial
elections, in which they ran along with male candidates. A further 25
were appointed by President Hamed Karzai himself.
Women were also represented in the leadership of the Loya Jirga.
Mujaddidi appointed female delegate Safia Sediqi as one of four
deputy chairpersons, and two of the assembly's four secretaries were
The final constitution produced by the Loya Jirga provides for better
political representation for women in Afghanistan than they have had
in the past.
The document was amended to state explicitly that the term "citizen"
in the phrase "The citizens of Afghanistan have equal rights and
duties before the law" applies to both men and women, an important
revision in a country where women have in the past been denied civic
The approved constitution also requires that the Wolesi Jirga include
two female representatives from each province, compared with one per
province in the original draft. This means that a minimum of 64 of
the lower house's' 250 members will be female. At just over 25 per
cent, this is higher than in most Western democracies.
The final draft makes no mention of gender in the qualifications
necessary to be president and, in places, makes it quite clear that
in theory a woman can fill the role. Massouda Jalal, who stood for
the presidency during the 2002 Emergency Loya Jirga, has said she
intends to run again in the next round of presidential elections.
Besides allowing Afghan women greater political representation, it is
hoped the new constitution will also safeguard them against a number
of controversial traditional practices.
Article 54, which is primarily concerned with the family, says the
state should strive to eliminate traditions which are contrary to
Islam. This could be used to outlaw forced marriage and the practice
of paying for brides. (See ARR No. 87: Forced Marriage Ban Possible.
The rights and demands of Afghanistan's constituent ethnic groups
proved contentious throughout the Loya Jirga discussions.
Following a particularly bad period of stalemate which concluded with
a walkout, Mujaddidi formed a working group – made up of three
representatives from each province and the leaders of the ten Loya
Jirga committees – which he hoped would help resolve some of the most
controversial sticking points.
But the group's discussions collapsed into a series of bitter
shouting matches over a range of questions, including the language to
be used for the national anthem and the suggestion that Pashtu should
be given elevated status as Afghanistan's "national language". (See
ARR No. 97: Loya Jirga Falls into Disarray.
The original draft of the constitution said simply that the national
anthem should be in Pashtu. But some delegates argued it should be
sung in a variety of languages and a number even took part in the
boycott on voting on January 1 because of the issue. As a compromise,
it was eventually agreed that the anthem should be in Pashtu only -
but would include the names of all the ethnic groups of Afghanistan
and the Muslim phrase "Allahu Akbar" – "God is great" – associated in
this context with ex-mujahedin groups.
Other delegates took part in the boycott on January 1 because they
felt so strongly that Pashtu should be named the national language of
Afghanistan, but that argument was eventually dropped after Pashtu
delegates met on January 4 and their leaders persuaded the rank-and-
file to withdraw the demand for the sake of compromise.
Besides the issue of a national language, arguments raged around the
question of which should be named "official languages", to be used in
government communications. Where the original draft named Dari and
Pashtu, it was eventually concluded that six further languages
including Uzbek, widely spoken in the north, should also be official
in the areas where they are most widely spoken.
The northern leader General Abdul Rashid Dostum was influential in
promoting language rights for the Uzbeks – his own group - and the
related Turkmen. President Karzai said that in return, Dostum had
agreed to allow thousands of Pashtuns who have been displaced from
their homes in the north over the past two years to return, and to
free hundreds of Taleban prisoners in his hometown of Shiberghan.
Compiled by Mike Farquhar, an editorial intern with IWPR in London.
The report is drawn from material gathered by the Loya Jirga
reporting team in Kabul.
(link)  Posted By:
mariam   September 30th 2004, 2004 3:35 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.