Afghanistan's Loya Jirga Meets

Afghanistan Loya Jirga
Delegates at Afghanistan's Loya Jirga grand assembly in Kabul, June 18, 2002 (Photo: AFP).

Beijing Global Times (weekly magazine of the Communist Party’s People’s Daily), June 10: It is not an easy job for Afghanistan, which has been impoverished by decades of foreign occupation, ethnic rift, and chaos, to sit down for a peaceful meeting. Spokesmen of the Loya Jirga expressed that the traditional grand assembly is not likely to bring revolutionary change to the nation. As Afghanistan has just begun its reconstruction, people can hardly afford to expect that.
—Ding Zi

Tokyo Asahi Shimbun (left-wing), June 12: The problem is that local military groups are jockeying among themselves for Cabinet posts. Some ministers are conspiring to fill ministries with their own relatives and backers to protect their interests in national reconstruction projects. We sincerely hope that the representatives in the Loya Jirga will display the wisdom needed to look to the future, transcending narrow self-interests to focus on the broader, long-range objectives.

Stockholm Dagens Nyheter (liberal), June 11: Afghanistan has never had a better chance for a better future. The [international] engagement has even been so comprehensive that some observers are warning that the assisting states are creating too much pressure. Afghanistan can never be a Western welfare state, they say; the focus should be on implementing “medieval” structures. Now it appears, however, that the big talk isn’t being followed up with action, and the deteriorating security is raising concerns. A telling comparison is that the world community has more than 70,000 troops in the former Yugoslavia, but only 4,500 in Afghanistan.
—Per Ahlin

Paris Le Monde (liberal), June 10: If the Bush administration takes advantage of this event [the Loya Jirga] to wash its hands of the Afghan drama, the new interim government that emerges...will be dramatically weakened before it has even set to work....Moreover, if international aid continues to be distributed in such a stingy fashion...what means will Kabul have at its disposal to govern and rebuild its devastated infrastructure?

Copenhagen Politiken (moderate), June 13: The international community can and should create the best conditions for the building up of a stable society. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has made Kabul somewhat safe, but despite repeated requests from the provisional government, foreign countries have provided little assistance. ISAF’s mandate is limited to Kabul and its surroundings, and security in the rest of the land is close to nonexistent.

London The Independent (liberal), June 10: Even if the democrats and the killers and murderers of Afghanistan—let us not be squeamish about some of the “delegates”—bring off their tribal rites today, it’s by no means certain that Afghanistan’s central authority will be able to do any more than they have already: rule the streets of Kabul while regional warlords—including one of their own vice ministers—battle with rival Mafiosi in the rest of the country.
—Robert Fisk