Spokesman: Karzai Could Call ‘Grand Jirga’ with Taliban

Massive Assembly Would Aim for Reconciliation

With his inauguration into his second term in office safely on the books, Afghan President Hamid Karzai appears to be looking forward to tackling his promise of attempting reconciliation with the Taliban, and spokesmen say he is mulling calling a “Loya Jirga.”

The Loya Jirga, or grand assembly, is the largest theoretical tribal meeting Pashtun groups can hold, and the Taliban leadership would be invited to participate in this one.

Though unlikely, this could have enormous potential ramifications, as under the Afghan constitution a Loya Jirga is empowered to amend the constitution as well as make decisions in the national interest, suggesting that the Taliban could come out of such a deal with some formal power-sharing arrangement.

Western officials have long supported Taliban reconciliation, but primarily as a means to strip the less ideologically bound members from the ground in a divide-and-conquer strategy. The Taliban has repeatedly rejected talks with Karzai, insisting that so long as international forces occupy the nation Karzai doesn’t hold any real bargaining power.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.