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Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Analysis: Afghan political healing
Hamid Karzai
Magician: Karzai (left) mesmerised his audience

A week of debate and discussions in the loya jirga has changed the Afghan political scene.

Some 1,500 representatives, elected or appointed from 32 provinces, gathered under a tent, over a week in Kabul.


It was a genuine therapy, a healing process for a troubled nation

Many spoke passionately about their desire for peace, security, reconstruction and justice.

Some complained bitterly about the Taleban, the warlords and their cruelty.

Some shouted, cursed or threatened their opponents who were sitting a few yards away.

However, they keenly participated in debates.

Breaking down barriers

Persuasion by the faction leaders and some arm-twisting by the UN, the US and other countries ensured that this unusual exercise in tribal democracy would not break down.

Delegates listen to Karzai speak
Woman say they are under-represented
Women and mostly men, living, eating, walking, talking and praying together, gave people from far-away corners of Afghanistan an opportunity to have a first-hand understanding of each other's conditions.

Regardless of their language, religion or ethnicity, they discovered that they shared the same deprivations and live in not too dissimilar economic conditions.

Once the former king gave his consent for fellow Pashtun Hamid Karzai to be elected as head of state, ethnic issues largely took a back seat.

Subjects such as religion, the role of parliament, democracies, social justice and economic development then dominated the jirga debates.

'Let's live in peace'

On the face of it, the loya jirga's main achievement was to give legitimacy to Hamid Karzai's transitional government.

Delegates take a lunch break
Delegates from all over met each other
But it was more than that - it was a genuine therapy, a healing process for a troubled nation.

People were glued to their radios and television sets, listening to outpourings of their sufferings, some inflicted by the Afghans themselves, and some by foreigners.

"Let's admit, my brothers and sisters, we abused each other and we have to ask forgiveness from each other," pleaded one member to applause.

"Let's forget the past and live together in peace."

What next?

Hamid Karzai has a big task in the next 18 months.


Mr Karzai discovered he could not keep stability in a fragile situation without the help of powerful factional leaders

He is expected to start the reconstruction of a largely dilapidated country, enforce law and order and produce a constitution - with the help of another loya jirga - to pave the way for a constitutional democracy.

Mr Karzai's presentation style is impeccable.

At times he can act like a magician with few words, mesmerising his audience.

The question is whether he has the substance to lead his country towards a lasting stability and prosperity without international support.

Warlords win

Mr Karzai's choice of cabinet is a compromise between stability and change.


General Mohammad Fahim
General Fahim

  • Keeps defence portfolio
  • One of three vice-presidents
  • From dominant Tajik faction


  • He was expected to make major changes, to remove factional leaders and to appoint a more balanced and professional cabinet.

    The leaders of the Northern Alliance, however, were less than accommodating.

    There was only one key change - the voluntary departure of their interior minister, Yunus Qanooni, a Tajik.

    But the alliance's defence minister, Mohammad Fahim, strengthened his position, becoming vice-president.

    Mr Karzai discovered he could not keep stability in a fragile situation without the help of powerful factional leaders.

    In terms of ethicity, his cabinet strikes a balance between Pashtuns and Tajiks. Hazaras are also there in strength, but Uzbeks have yet to join.

    Mr Karzai will have to include representatives of the former monarch in his cabinet.

    Women are also complaining that they are under-represented, with only one female minister.


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    See also:

    19 Jun 02 | South Asia
    14 Jun 02 | South Asia
    15 Nov 01 | South Asia
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