Loja Jirga

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Delegate of the Loja Jirga, Kabul 2002

The Loja Dschirga or Loya Gerga ( Persian لويه جرگه; Pashtun لويه جرګه Loya Jirga (h) ) is the great gathering that is held to this day in Afghanistan , Uzbekistan , Turkmenistan and Mongolia to clarify major national and ethnic / tribal issues.

The second part of the from "Loja" (in Pashtun لويه, large in German ) and "Dschirga" ( Persian جرگه, in German tent, circle, council, assembly, meeting, dispute) originally comes from a Mongolian or Turkic language .


Such gatherings have their origins in the Altaic cultures, including the Mongol Empire. So raised z. B. the Mongolian tribal prince Genghis Khan in 1206 in a "Ger" (spoken with French "J") to their head or Great Khan .

Under the Timurids and the Mughals, although they had Turkish as well as Mongolian roots, the Loja Jirga was forgotten. On the one hand because they were "persified", on the other hand because they had viziers and diplomats who dealt with problems that affected social life, to the satisfaction of the ruler.

Younger story


In Pashtun society, the Loja Jirgas are still very much practiced and cultivated today and held in front of and with tribal princes, in which social internal or external conflicts with other tribes are attempted. The reason for the existence of the Loja Jirga among the Pashtuns lies in the non-Iranian origin of some of the tribes. The Zadran (now known as Jadran by the non-Pashtuns ) were originally a Mongolian tribe, which was Pashtunized by the Pashtuns in the northern regions of the Sulaymani mountain range during the Islamization period . Other non-Iranian Pashtun tribes with a Turkish or Mongolian background are the Ghalzais, descendants of the Khaljis or the Zazais (called Jajis by non-Pashtuns).

When Pashtun princes took power, they tried to legitimize their power through this type of gathering. While initially only Pashtuns made use of Gerga or Jirga , other ethnic groups were also included later, but without really considering the non-Pashtuns. Participants are tribal or regional leaders, politicians, military or religious leaders, members of the royal family and the government. King Amanullah Khan institutionalized the Loja Jirga. He was also the only king to use it three times. From Amanullah Khan to the rule of Zaher Khan (1933–1973) and Mohammed Daoud Khan (1973–1978), Loja Jirga was understood to be a joint meeting of regional Pashtun tribal leaders.

The meetings take place at irregular intervals. Some historians suggest that this tradition is 1000 years old.

There is no time limit in a Loja Jirga and it sits in session until decisions are made. Decisions are only made based on consensus . Many different problems are discussed, such as foreign policy , declaration of war , legitimizing leaders or introducing new ideas and rules.


Differences of opinion, disputes, and even the abolition of tribal feuds were often resolved through dialogue in the form of “jirgas” meetings in different tribes. The "Jirgas" determined the political and economic, as well as religious and cultural characteristics of the Afghan people. The original "Jirgas" consisted of the political body of the village chiefs (Wakil), merchants and landowners (Khans), mullahs from the surrounding mosques, as well as poets (Schaheran) and musicians (Musiqui-Mandan).

The four pillars of Afghan society - the political, the economic, the religious and the cultural - carried the foundation of the Afghan " Politiae ", or rather in the later Kingdom of Afghanistan, arose in the eighteenth century from parts of the Eastern Persian Empire. As early as 1747, the “Loya Jirga” - large assembly - appointed Ahmad Kahn Durrani as king and legitimized his power through the vote of the tribal emissaries. Even if the procedure for appointing a king by the institution “Loja Jirga” cannot be described as democratic from today's perspective, the “Loja Jirga” represented the foundation of the Afghan state and, as a constituent body, played an extremely important role in the distribution of power in Afghanistan Role. The following rulers and political actors also recognized the importance of the “Loya Jirga”. In order to unite the different tribes and ethnic groups behind them, the political actors support themselves again and again in the existential domestic and foreign policy decisions, such as B. the question " War and Peace ", on the influence of the "Loya Jirga".

These large gatherings of all tribes and ethnic groups in Afghanistan, the "Loya Jirga", have been abused in the course of history by some political actors and rulers of Afghanistan for their political purposes in and around Afghanistan. The legitimation of the one-party state in Afghanistan by the "Loya Jirga" during the reign of Mohammed Daoud Khan (1977) turned out to be a serious mistake in foreign and domestic politics and is to be cited here as a special example. The "Loya Jirga" enabled President Daud Khan to expand his dictatorship by establishing a one-party state in Afghanistan and at the same time to persecute not only his arch-rivals, the members of the Communist Party of Afghanistan ( DVPA ) , but also the various Islamist groups and the to suppress small democratically oriented circles in Kabul.

Subsequent governments such as the communist government of Afghanistan (1979 to 1991) also used the “Loya Jirga” in various ways to achieve their political goals. During the Soviet occupation there was hardly any acceptance of the “Loya Jirga” among the population, as it staged the Soviet occupiers for the legitimation of the communist-oriented Afghan constitution (1985). During this period, the "Loya Jirga" not only met with rejection from the opposition forces in Afghanistan, but also lost its former importance as a special form of dialogue between the ethnic groups.


The following Loja Jirgas took place in the history of Khorasan (until 1857/58). The first assemblies of this kind are said to have been held from 1414 under the title Jirga e Safa (Purification Assembly ).

Timeline of Kabulistan and Afghanistan

A loja jirga took place in the history of Kabulistan :

The following Loja Jirga took place in the history of Afghanistan (since 1911): King Amanullah Khan (1919–1929) made Loja Jirga a political institution, as he called the great assembly three times:

  • 1920 in Jalalabad , the provincial capital of Nangarhar : adoption of the laws on political and social reforms and the first constitution, abolition of slavery, which mainly affected the Hazara ethnic group , and the compulsory tax , which was mainly collected by Hindus and Sikhs
  • 1922 and 1924 in Paghman , Kabul Province  : Laws on economic reforms, the establishment of parliament and reforms of the military and administrative system are passed.
  • 1930, convened by Mohammed Nadir Shah to legitimize his accession to the throne
  • 1941, convened by Mohammed Zahir Shah to the neutrality in World War II to protect
  • In 1964, with 452 participants, convened by Mohammed Zahir Shah to pass a new constitution
  • 1974, convened by Mohammed Daoud Khan with the intention of confronting Pakistan with the Duran Line issue (with serious consequences, as Pakistan sent the Pashtun warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyār to Kabul, who had the city almost completely bombed)
  • 1977, passed Mohammed Daoud Khan's new constitution , which provided a one-party state for the Republic of Afghanistan
  • 1985, adopted the new constitution of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
  • In 2001 there were four different Loja Jirgas discussing the consequences of the end of the Taliban rule:
    • The first in Rome around the exiled Mohammed Zahir Shah. She represented the interests of the Pashtuns from southeastern Afghanistan, the group that supported the Taliban. Rome's initiative called for fair elections for all, government support, respect for human rights and support for Islam as the religious foundation of Afghanistan.
    • The second met in Cyprus , led by Homayoun Jarir , brother-in-law of the warlord and Taliban fighter Gulbuddin Hekmatyār . The members of the jirga held in Cyprus were mostly members of the royal family or independent nobles of Pashtun descent.
    • The third and most important was the so-called Afghanistan Conference on Petersberg near Bonn ,
    • and the fourth took place in Pakistan .
  • 2002, June 11th, convened by the interim administration of Hamid Karzai , with 1,500 delegates, who were either chosen by elections in the different parts of the country or sent by political, cultural or religious groups. It was held in a large tent on the Kabul Polytechnic campus. She established the transitional government.
  • 2003, on December 14th, 502 delegates, including 114 women, met in Kabul to discuss a new constitution for Afghanistan. Other points of discussion were the question of the official language ( Persian (Dari) or Pashto ), whether the former King Mohammed Sahir Shah should keep the title of “father of the country”, women's rights and whether Afghanistan should have a free market economy . Originally this Loja Jirga was only supposed to last 10 days. But the clashes were protracted, which is why the Loja Jirga was also called loja dschagra (Great Struggle) in Afghanistan . On January 4, 2004, the Loja Jirga passed the new constitution for Afghanistan.
  • In 2011, from November 16 to 19, the Loja Jirga met in Kabul on the current situation in Afghanistan and the future of the country. and spoke out in principle for cooperation with the USA and peace negotiations with the Taliban
  • In November 2013, a Loja Jirga with 2,500 delegates approved the security agreement with the USA and thus the continued presence of US troops.
  • In 2019, the Loja Jirga will meet from April 29 to May 2 in Kabul with 3,200 delegates to determine the framework for peace negotiations with the Taliban.


On April 29, 2006, the Baloch minister Mir Taj Muhammad Jamali offered a meeting ( Loya Jirga ) to the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf with the intention of pacifying the province of Balochistan . Another great jirga was held in Kalat in September 2006, which focused on the rights of the Baluch .


  • Benjamin Buchholz: Loya Jirga. Afghan myth, council assembly and constitutional body . Rombach Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 2013, ISBN 978-3-7930-9735-8 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. crisisgroup.org: The Loya Jirga: One Small Step Forward ?, May 16, 2002 ( Memento of December 3, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  2. dradio.de/dlf: "Interview: Founder of Kinderhilfe Afghanistan draws a gloomy picture. Reinhard Erös in conversation with Tobias Armbrüster"
  3. tagesschau.de: "The Afghanistan lion roared" ( Memento from November 17, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  4. ^ Deutsche Welle "Loja Dschirga imposes conditions on the USA"
  5. Loja Jirga votes for a security agreement with the USA on www.zeit.de, November 24, 2013.
  6. Jelena Bjelica, Thomas Ruttig: Between 'Peace Talks' and Elections - The 2019 Consultative Peace Loya Jirga at www.afghanistan-analysts.org, April 26, 2019.
  7. ^ Jirga rejects mega projects , in: The Nation , Lahore (Pakistan), October 3, 2006.
  8. Baloch jirga to form supreme council to implement decisions , in: Daily Times , Lahore, October 4th of 2006.
  9. ↑ Proven for ninety years , in: FAZ , April 22, 2014, page 8.