Jirga to Decide on Kabul-Washington Security Pact

News - Afghanistan




The government will consult with a broad cross-section of the country through a jirga to decided whether to ratify the security pact with Washington, the second vice president said Wednesday.

Vice President Khalili added that the jirga is expected to take place sometime in June this year.



"The government refers to the people to decide on some important issues. The signing of the strategic agreement [technically] allows us to sign the security pact, but to strengthen this matter the government wants to consult with the people," Khalili said.

Opposition political parties have strongly opposed the use of jirgas to decide important national matters.

"Often, meetings are held under them name of jirgas. With all due respect to attendees of such jirgas - my point isn't about the people - but according to the law, that's a misuse of jirgas, not an exercise to give people representation," said opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah.

The opposition parties believe Afghanistan faces significant security challenges as Isaf troops withdraw and should therefore prioritize the signing of the pact.

"A jirga means additional talk. The security pact is part of the long-term [strategic] cooperation agreement that was signed between the two countries. The jirga is, in a way, a misuse of the budget," said Astana Shirzad, head of the Afghan National Party.

The issue if legal immunity for US troops is one of the sticking points in the security pact, but some opposition parties are urging the government to ignore the issue. They believe that Afghanistan should follow the example of other countries that host US troops with legal immunity.

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