Omar Zakhilwal: Stifled in the Loya Jirga

Old Blog Import

The Afghan people have spoken clearly on this issue. I recently participated in a U.N.-commissioned assessment mission by the Center for Economic and Social Rights. Our report documents widespread agreement among all Afghans, from urban professionals to landless farmers, that there should be no role for warlords in the country’s future, and that international aid will be wasted unless the underlying conditions of peace and security are first established.

The same consensus holds in the loya jirga. I estimate that at least 80 percent of delegates favor excluding all warlords from the government. The 200 women delegates are especially outspoken on this issue. In a spontaneous display of democracy, they publicly rebuked two powerful symbols of Afghanistan’s violent past — Burhanuddin Rabbani, president of the mujaheddin government from 1992 to ’96, and Gen. Mohammed Fahim, former intelligence chief and currently defense minister in the interim government.

But because of behind-the-scenes pressure, our voices are being silenced and the warlords empowered. Let me give some concrete examples.”