Jirgas History

Traditionally Jirgas have been held based on the instructions of the Islamic Sharia and Quranic teachings and has turned into a favorite and accepted Afghan tradition.‏ over the years, Jirgas have been the vehicle to solve issues from tribal disputes to national matters and international affairs as faced by the Afghan state.

Since the ancient times of the Aryan civilization to the dawn of modern Afghanistan, Jirgas have been instrumental in gathering public perception about certain matters. Since Afghans and loyal muslims adhere to the teachings of Islam as the guiding light of their lives, following the instructions of a Jirga are part of our civilized way of life as instructed by the Holy Quran.

Jirgas have a high value in the Afghan society and a number of mechanisms for the administration of the nation stem from the decisions taken in jirgas participated by religious scholars, intellectuals, influential social personalities, members of civil society, university lecturers and other informed people in the areas of economy, society, military and politics. Jirgas that have been instrumental in the history of Afghanistan include the following:

1. Loya Jirga convened by Mirwais Khan Hotaki (1709 A.D)

This Jirga was convened in Manja area of Kandahar under the leadership of Mirwais Khan Hotaki (Nika). This Jirga continued for one day and the decision taken was to uproot the government of Gorgin from Afghanistan.

2. Loya Jirga of Kandahar (1747 A.D)

This Jirga was convened just after the assassination of Nadir Shah Afshar. This Jirga continued for 9 days and after long discussions it was decided that Ahmad Shah Baba should be crowned as the King of Afghanistan.

3. Loya Jirga of Kabul (1865 A.D)

This was Jirga was convened during the reign of Sher Ali Khan and the objective was to receive public support in the maintenance of security. In this Jirga around 2 thousand individuals including tribal elders and religious scholars gathered under the leadership of Amir Sher Ali Khan. This Jirga was also successful and under the general consensus the country reached stability and peace.

4. Loya Jirga of Kabul (1915 A.D)

This Jirga was convened during the reign of Amir Habibullah Khan by the participation of 540 individuals including tribal elders and religious scholars. This Jirga was convened to decide whether Afghanistan should accept the German and Turk offer of joining the war against the British. Before that a joint delegation of Germans and Turks had arrived in Kabul asking the Afghan king to enter the war against the British Empire. Amir Habibullah Khan convened the Jirga and asked for the advice of the public representatives. Amir Habibullah’s decision has been analyzed as one of the best decisions during that time. Afghans’ decision to stay out of the war was an important and vital decision take at that time.

5. Loya Jirga of Jalalabad (1922 A.D)

This Jirga was composed of 872 individuals and was held under King Amanullah Khan in Jalalabad city. Objective of this Jirga was to decide upon the social reforms as predicted by the country’s first constitution.

6. Loya Jirga of Paghman (1924 A.D)

After the Jalalabad Jirga, Paghman Jirga was held in the year 1924 and was convened to finish the work already done through Jalalabad Jirga. In this Jirga around 1054 individuals including religious scholars, tribal elders and academic and political personalities had participated. At the end of this Jirga, the issues discussed during the Jalalabad Jirga were officially approved by King Amanullah.

7. Loya Jirga of Paghman (1928 A.D)

This Jirga composed of 1100 individuals was convened to take necessary measures regarding the radical reaction of anti-reform elements. As result of this Jirga, a number of titles were removed and mandatory military service for three years was approved.

8. Loya Jirga of Kabul (1930 A.D)

This Jirga was convened during the reign of King Nadir Khan and was composed of 301 individuals. In this Jirga a number of frameworks including the election of the national parliament, working procedures of the parliament, design and colour of the national flag were approved by the members of the Jirga.

9. Loya Jirga of Kabul (1941 A.D)

During world war 2, this Jirga was held in Habibia High School and the issue discussed centered around Afghan government’s decision regarding World War. At the end of the Jirga it was decided that Afghanistan will remain neutral during the world war.

10. Loya Jirga of Kabul (1955 A.D)

Two of our neighboring countries Iran and Pakistan joined military pacts including SETO and CENTO and as a result of the change in balance of power Afghanistan perceived these pacts as threats. Therefore a Loya Jirga was convened to discuss the procedures necessary for the defense of the country.

11. Loya Jirga of Kabul (1964 A.D)

This was historic Jirga in Afghan political arena; this Jirga passed the 1964 constitution and set apart the (doctrine) executive, legislative and juridical forces. It is also perceived as the beginning of democracy in Afghanistan, where political parties and media were granted unprecedented freedom of speech.

12. Loya Jirga of Kabul (1976 A.D)

With the establishment of the first republic of Afghanistan under Muhammad Dawud Khan, Loya Kabul was convened to discuss the approval of a new constitution and election of the President. This Jirga was convened in the Health Ministry complex. Similarly other Jirgas were held during the soviet occupation at three different occasions. Also, during the Mujahideen rule in the year 1993, a legislative council or Jirga was held to discuss the future of an Islamic Afghanistan.

13. Kabul Emergency Loya Jirga (2002 A.D)

This was one of the most crucial and decisive Jirgas after the collapse of the Taliban Regime. In the aftermath of the 2001 Bonn Agreement, 1600 politically prominent Afghans were brought together to discuss the future of Afghanistan, leading to the election of H.E. President Karzai as the interim president.

14. Kabul Loya Jirga on Constitution 2003

This Loya Jirga on Constitution marked a political success in the history of Afghanistan bringing the rule of law and implementation of democracy. People from different sections of the society, such as Lawyers, Lecturers and historians gathered to ratify the new Afghan Constitution.

15. Kabul Afghan/Pak Joint Peace Jirga 2007

Having recognized the problems and challenges that Afghanistan and Pakistan face together, this Jirga brought the two countries closer than ever before, the Jirga decided to address the problems of insurgency and political stability in the region. As a result, reached to a consensus that both countries by creating a joint strategic work plan will work together to tackle regional upheavals and promote peace and stability.

16. Kabul National Consultative Peace Jirga 2010

In this Jirga 1600 individuals from 14 categories came together to represent the people of Afghanistan in Kabul.‏ As result of their discussions, the representatives decided upon the following matters:

- Establishment of the Supreme Peace Council

- Pacing up the reconciliation process with the armed insurgents

- Freedom of a number of detainees from foreign prisons

- Transfer of authority over detentions centers to the government

- Establishment of a Joint peace commission between Afghanistan and Pakistan

17. Traditional Loya Jirga, Kabul 2011

This Jirga was held at the Jirgas’ Hall in Kabul with the participation of 2300 individuals. In this Jirga, the government of Afghanistan proposed its objectives to the elected representatives of the people for taking necessary decisions. All the members of this Loya Jirga unanimously allowed the government of Afghanistan to sign the strategic agreement with the United States based on the recommendations of this Jirga.

The consultative Loya Jirga of 2013 is also being held in Kabul with the aim of bringing around representatives of Afghans from all walks of life together. In this Loya Jirga, members are supposed to discuss the fate of the security agreement between the Afghan and US governments. The decisions of this Loya Jirga will be the final advice received by the government before signing the security agreement.

[1] Quran :Verse 38 in Surah Ash-Shura