After arriving and passing my first days at home due to the festivities of Eid-ul-Adha –the office was off, everyone was with their families, shops closed, nothing much to do-, I was happy to start working, which enabled me as well to get a better feel for the city and its buzz. But as the things go, the city fell from one extreme into another. The Loya Jirga casted its shadow over the city with traffic jams deluxe and again several days off in which a curfew was imposed on most of the foreign workers. The Loya Jirga was expected to be a huge target for Taliban attacks. Days before the Taliban had announced that they would have the internal plans for the Loya Jirga and despite the dements of the government, everyone felt insecure. Was it a bluff? My colleagues watched nervously out the window of the car towards trespassing vehicles. Were they weighing down so much because they were loaded with explosives? What did that big bus do next to us? And could that emergency vehicle just be a fake and the army guys around would be dressed in uniforms which they had bought in the bazaar but for real they were suicide bombers?
The situation tensed and it became uncomfortable being stuck somewhere in the traffic for several hours not only because of the waiting time… But what was this Loya Jirga thing that everyone was talking about?
The Loya Jirga (translated: great/big assembly) is a meeting of about 200 delegates from all over the country (mostly members of the Royal Family, religious leaders and tribal chiefs, influential people…) who come together to discuss issues that are at stake for Afghanistan. The assembly itself doesn’t have any legislative power but intends to give recommendations and a direction for the general course of politics. Loya Jirgas have a long tradition not only in Afghanistan but in the Central Asia region. Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai had called in a grand assembly (Loya Jirga) to discuss the future relationship with the US, which seems to have dragged into a long term fling caught between love and hate (with sudden outbursts to the latter) rather than a partnership with equal rights.
“They should have never allowed this Jirga.” The gender analyst exclaimed next to me. “They endanger everyone! Yesterday they already caught a suicide bomber who wanted to blow himself up. And all this fuss for what? It doesn’t have any power whatsoever! It’s just for getting together, eating, listening to some speeches…as if they couldn’t have done that over skype!”
I look out over the dazzling traffic in which nothing much seems to move except of the bikes and people making their way through the cars that got stuck already for an hour. My eyes wander up the square mudbrick houses that are holding onto the rugged mountainsides which are surrounding Kabul.
There are stairs leading from place to place. An old man climbs down step by step, trying hard not to tip over. Chicken in front of some houses and one of the old robust bikes with hindwheel bicycle stands. Down by the feet of the hill three to five metre long bamboo ladders from Pakistan and motor oil in filthy orange containers is being sold. The portrait of Massoud watches over the scenery with a calm gaze. His picture is everywhere in the city, watching out from advertisements to mosques and from walls of ministries and offices onto the passing people. What would he have thought about the Loya Jirga and what about the state of his country these days? Would he have taken the traffic jams and endangerment of civilians as a necessary by-product of a great opportunity or would he have frowned on a petty meeting that took itself too serious? No matter what he would have thought, he’s gone and we’re left alone to make up our mind about it ourselves.