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Reassess Afghanistan’s Constitutional Structure

The United States and its international allies should press for a constitutional loya jirga, or new international conference, modeled on the 2001 Bonn process.

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The United States and its international allies should press for a constitutional loya jirga, or new international conference, modeled on the 2001 Bonn process. It would include representatives from the Karzai government, elected members of parliament, local and provincial representatives, Afghan civil society organizations, and insurgency members who are willing to lay down their arms and join a deliberative constitutional process.

This process will not be successful unless it is an Afghan-led one, and foreigners should not dictate a new balance of power. The process’s general goal should be the shift to a more federalized structure with greater provincial- and local-level autonomy. A wholesale constitutional revision does risk entrenching divisions among regional power brokers. But it at least offers potential power-sharing compromises that are not possible under the current system.

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