SOLLIMS Sampler Volume 10, Issue 1 - Page 21

Most civilian rule-of-law development projects are based on a flawed assumption that there is a legitimate government in the host country seeking to improve governance and quell violence. In many cases of extreme violence, governments rule for self-interest, not the good of their citizens, creating a populace that views the state as illegitimate. … International efforts also assume that most of the local population is uncommitted rather than supportive of insurgents. But citizens in disaffected communities often back violent groups, not just against the state but also toward goals inimical to rule-of-law values. (Kleinfeld, p. 1.) … in rural areas [of Afghanistan], where about 77% of the population reside, functioning courts, police and prisons are often non-existent. Therefore, the majority of Afghans rely on a more traditional, “informal” justice system. Disputes are settled, if at all, at the local level by village elders, district governors, clerics and police chiefs. … The term “informal” generally includes shuras, a Dari word referring to permanent and quasi-permanent local councils, and jirgas, a Pashto term typically used for more ad-hoc meetings intended to address a specific dispute. … The jirga is a traditional institution that is more strongly bound up with the tribal economy and society of the Pashtuns of Afghanistan. It is therefore more commonly and effectively used as a mechanism of conflict resolution among the Pashtuns. However … the jirga, or its equivalents, are used as “informal” mechanisms of conflict resolution in rural or less urbanized areas where Afghan Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks are the majority of the population. … A shura is primarily an advisory council that does not have decision-making powers. It is a group of individuals which meets only in response to a specific need in order to decide how to meet the need. In most cases, this need is to resolve a conflict between individuals, families, groups of families, or whole tribe. … In the context of the resolution of disputes and crimes, jirgas and shuras are more often an ad-hoc body rather than a standing institution with fixed membership or, in some cases, a combination of these two forms – a standing body with additional members chosen according to the issue at hand. Both jirgas and shuras involve groups of community leaders, respected elders, landowners and religious leaders, generally, but not always, men, who discuss disputes and other political issues with the communities. The fact that members of the jirga/shura are respected community members with established social status and a reputation for piety and fairness is cited as one of the reasons why the Afghan population is turning to this system for dispute resolution and justice. (CFC, pp. 2-3.) One of the principal ways the Taliban were able to attack and undermine the Afghan Government was their ability to deliver justice quickly and effectively and it became an important way in which to win the support of the people. In simple terms our aspira- tions and ambitions were too ambitious and failed to recognize how important the provision of this basic facility was to people – they needed justice today not in five or ten years. (Kuhar, p. 47.) Through much of the first decade of the ISAF counterinsurgency campaign, Afghans would give up on [seeing] timely, fair justice disbursed by their government officials and resort to the harsh justice dealt by the Taliban. Once again the Afghan government had failed and left the door wide open for parallel governance by the Taliban who gladly took the initiative. The ISAF counterinsurgency campaign was no winner either and the notion of protecting the people and providing a safe and secure environment was something that regrettably the Taliban seemed more capable of delivering. (Kuhar, p. 88.) Table of Contents | Quick Look | Contact PKSOI Page 20 of 36