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The Challenges to Nation-Building
in Afghanistan continues...
Afghans need to locate themselves in their social context and people need to be able to engage in face-to-face interactions. Informal village-level bodies are the
primary functioning structure of decision-making which still remain. In
some Islamic religious thoughts, the Shura (council or the jirga in pashto)
is considered the ideal model for governance. Such local governing bodies
also have functioned as advisory council formed to solve conflicts, resolve
disputes, or deliberate on decisions affecting the community.
Such councils are comprised of those whose opinions, negotiating skills and
knowledge of tribal and/or religious law are respected, usually including
elders, religious authorities and local influentials. Any head of the
household can attend a Shura and all parties attending the Shura are
allowed to speak. Unless the proper people are represented at the Shura, a
decision will not be made although and no one is vested with the ultimate
decision-making authority. The Shura can deal with problems or disputes
that arise within the community and also may deal with division of labour or resources where communal issues are concerned.
Though from outside such a system appear exploitative and corrupt,
yet it gives the people access to justice which they otherwise do not get.
Though the system is not democratic, the institutions are representative
of the local population and hence a critical resource for political and
physical reconstruction. All the political institutions currently
functioning in Afghanistan (regional, national, local and international)
should be fashioned into a cohesive framework. The tradition of Loya
Jirga has been utilized in Afghanistan in the post-Taleban period to
establish the transitional government and its leader, Hamid Karzai. The
necessity of incorporating such socio-political subsystems into the greater system is a major challenge.
To be continued...