Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president, announced that he would call a ‘Loya Jiga’ by the end of the month, and he would consult with the nation about war and peace.
Ashraf Ghani has mandated Umar Dawudzai, the head of the secretariat of the High Peace Council and Zia ul-Haq Amarkhail, his senior advisor, to organize the Jirga.
Ashraf Ghani has at last agreed to call a Jirga that he resisted for four years, against Karzai’s call for the it to be launched. He then had the view that the Jirga was illegitimate and waste of time.
The Jirga has a long history in Afghanistan. The constitution of the Loya Jirga has been recognized as the manifestation of the will of the nation. The Constitutional Loya Jirga is held in an emergency and sensitive situation. But the constitution demands difficult and complicated steps for the Loya Jirga. But the Afghan government has repeatedly called for Jirgas in eighteen years, using the historical background of traditional jirgas.
The United States and a number of political figures have welcomed the Loya Jirga plan as an exceptional opportunity to advise on peace talks.
But many other politicians see this jirga with doubts. The Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar says there is no guarantee that the agenda of the Jirga will not be set aside and that its members will not be chosen ones. Hekmatyar believes the consultative jirga will not solve any problems, but will add to the current problems.
At the same time, Atta Mohammad Noor, the Executive Chief of the Jamiat-e-Islami says that the objectives of the jirga are preset and, therefore, he rejects the jirga. Noor says that the goal of the Jirga is to strengthen the power of the president, and he will not attend it if it is meant to be so.
Going against his own narrative and against the views of many political figures and analysts, President Ghani seems determined to hold a Loya Jirga. The possible incentives of arranging such a jirga seems to be the following points;
1. Role in Peace Talks:
The United States have made speedy progress in peace talks with Taliban. America’s intensive talks with Taliban have undermined the Afghan government’s dignity and strengthened the Taliban’s reputation. Khalilzad’s multi-round talks with the Taliban in Doha, Abu Dhabi and Pakistan put Taliban in the top position. Khalilzad has been too optimistic about his talks with Taliban. The two sides, after a series of negotiations, appear ready to do everything: US troops would leave Afghanistan and Washington would surrender the government to the Taliban. Such a climate, which stems from Khalilzad’s optimistic statements, triggered a series of worries, protests, and gatherings in Kabul. The Afghan government changed its stance on peace and resolutely opposed Khalilzad’s actions. The United States believes that Ghani stands alone against their efforts to establish peace and reconciliation with the Taliban. Now Ashraf Ghani is trying to call the Loya Jirga to inform the United States and the countries of the region that the Afghan people are united with him and defend the position of the government against the United States, the Taliban and the neighboring countries.
2. Reducing Internal and International Pressures:
Ashraf Ghani is the only obstacle and the biggest factor in the peace process. The work of the president’s team has focused on blocking peace talks in two months. President, himself, is under the control of his global allies and his rivals. He stands alone against the peace plan of the United States, Pakistan, the countries of the region and Taliban. But he has not been able to partner with his own goals and plans. Now, Ashraf Ghani is working with the jirga to try to reduce the pressure and make his reputation.
3. Establishing Consensus and Legitimacy:
The biggest criticism of the politicians on Ashraf Ghani is the elimination of political consensus. He is responsible for alienating important political and local leaders who seemed to be in the favor of Afghan government. Ghani’s extremist behavior has led the majority of traditional leaders, parties and political activists to go against government and pursue their different and personal agenda.
In fact, Ashraf Ghani faces a crisis of legitimacy. On one hand, the scandal of the 2014 election has tainted his position, on the other hand, the failure to provide services and security to the community has damaged his reputation. Now, Ghani and his administrative staff are confined in four walls of the presidential citadel. Ghani is working with the Jirga to revive and rebuild the legitimacy of his political and social life.
4. Influencing Talks Between Political Parties and the Taliban in Moscow and Doha:
Moscow’s meeting was a big step in intra-Afghan talks. The results of the summit of political parties and representatives of the Taliban in Moscow opened a new window of hope for the end of the war and reconciliation. America did not oppose the meeting. The countries of the region were Moscow’s supporters. The main opponent of the Taliban and political parties was the government of Afghanistan. The Afghan government did not participate in these peace talks. In fact, representatives of the president were not invited to the peace talks between Taliban representatives and US officials in Qatar, while the boycotted the Afghan politicians’ meeting with the Taliban in Moscow.
5. Electoral Campaign:
One of the most important consideration behind organizing Jirga is the presidential election. Ashraf Ghani will try to acquire the confidence the representatives of the provinces and districts and then influence them to support him in the upcoming elections. Loya Jirga is an election campaign for President Ghani. This concern has also been raised by some of his rivals. They are worried that Ashraf Ghani would call people close to him and his team and set his own electoral and group goals.