Warlords Emerge from Loya Jirga More Powerful Than Ever
Human Rights Watch, international
June 19, 2002
Afghanistan's warlords emerged from the loya jirga with greater power and a new claim to legitimacy Human Rights Watch said today.
Many delegates representing civil society told Human Rights Watch that
they had been excluded from any real decision-making. As the loya jirga
nears its end, they expressed fears about the resurgent power of the
warlords who were active, and at time abusive, participants in the loya
"Afghanistan's warlords are stronger today then they were ten days ago
before the loya jirga started," said Saman Zia-Zarifi, senior researcher
for Human Rights Watch. "Short term political expediency has clearly
triumphed over human rights."
The cabinet just named by Hamid Karzai, head of the transitional
government, differs only slightly from that of the interim
administration. The predominantly Tajik Jamiat-e Islami party holds
three key cabinet posts while the Shi'a Hazara party, Hizb-e Wahdat,
gained a seat. Both parties have been implicated in the recent attacks
on ethnic Pashtun civilians in northern Afghanistan following the
collapse of the Taliban. Jamiat has also been involved in an ongoing
conflict with General Abdul Rashid Dostum's Junbish party in northern
Afghanistan, where the fighting and general insecurity has imperiled
international humanitarian aid operations.
The appointment of Fazul Hadi Shinwari to the post of Chief Justice of
the Supreme Court also raises serious human rights concerns. Shinwari
was quoted in press interviews in January as saying that Shari'a
punishments including stoning and amputation would be retained, albeit
with stricter due process guarantees than under the Taliban. His
position contradicted Karzai's assertion during a visit to the United
States that same month that Shari'a punishments could only be imposed in
a society in which social justice and freedom from hunger prevailed.
Karzai did not announce who would lead the Ministry for Women's Affairs.
Given the history of discrimination that Afghan women have suffered and
the continuing insecurity in the country, this ministry is key to promoting and achieving Afghan women's rights.
The framers of the Bonn agreement recognized that an interim
administration for Afghanistan, established immediately after the
collapse of the Taliban, would have to include warlords who had
reestablished themselves as effective authorities in most of the country
in the fight against the Taliban. However, the selection of the
transitional government to lead Afghanistan during reconstruction, by
the delegates of the emergency loya jirga was supposed to reflect the
voice of civilians, not warlords.
"Instead of creating the space for civilian leadership to emerge during
the six-month interval, the lack of an internationally enforced security
arrangement meant that warlords used that time to rebuild their military
and political networks," said Zia-Zarifi.
A delegate from Kabul told Human Rights Watch, "Warlords who bombed
Kabul are not supposed to be here in the loya jirga. People who are contaminated with the blood of Afghans should not be elected as
One group of delegates planned to submit a slate of candidates to fill
the cabinet. None of the candidates on the lists were warlords or
affiliated with them. Before the delegates had the opportunity to
present their slate at the loya jirga, at least three members of the
group received death threats over the phone.
HRW Press Release June 19, 2002, Human Rights Watch.