The "Grand Assembly" or "Great Council" of Afghanistan, convened from time to time in order to settle matters of grave national import.

Etymologically, "jirga" refers to a circle, implying a general gathering of people sitting down to discuss and settle disputes. Jirgas are often held at the local level to discuss matters of import to families of communities. This process seems to be related to the pre-Islamic concept of shura, or "consultation."

There have been several important Loya Jirgas in the region's history, including:

Since the coup of 1973, Zahir Shah has been making periodic calls (from his home away from home in Rome) for the institution of a new Jirga to decide the country's future. This call has fallen on deaf ears within the Taliban camp, though the Northern Alliance (and the official Afghan president in exile, Burhanuddin Rabbani) has given the idea some grudging approval. It remains to be seen what form, if any, the Jirga process will take, but it is seen by some in the West as the best process by which a post-Taliban government may be formed.

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