Loya jirga

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A loya jirga (Pashto: لويه جرګه) is a "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 as well as disputes in the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan and 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 of Afghanistan and Pakistan in which, traditionally, tribal elders meet together.[2]

The words loya (great/grand) and jirga ("council", "assembly", "dispute" or "meeting") are of Pashto origin.



The Aryan tribes, which came down in intermittent waves from Central Asia to present Afghanistan and then moved to India (around 1500 BC), tribes practiced a sort of jirga-system with two types of councils – simite and sabha. The simite (the summit) comprised elders and tribal chiefs. The king also joined sessions of the simite. Sabha 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]

The phrase loya jirga is Pashto and means "grand council". The institution, which is centuries old, is a similar idea to the Islamic "shura", or consultative assembly, BBC world.

In the Afghan (Pashtun) 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 the power they tried to legitimize their power 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.

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