Afghanistan’s new legislature will include at least 15 seats reserved for women, according to a proposed plan by newly-elected President Hamid Karzai. The legislature also would consist of two delegates from each of the country’s 32 provinces and other seats chosen from within the loya jirga Ð one for every 20 delegates. However, Karzai’s plan, which was proposed to appease the 1,551 loya jirga delegates who had reached an impasse over the issue of choosing a parliament, was met with disdain from many at the national assembly. In addition, the issue of choosing a cabinet, another key point of conflict, remains unresolved. In a sober address to the delegates Tuesday, Karzai proposed setting up numerous commissions to oversee various aspects of government and to negotiate rules for choosing a legislature after the assembly disbands today.
Meanwhile, fundamentalists at the loya jirga launched an attack on Dr. Sima Samar, Minister of Women’s Affairs, for a quote in a Canadian newspaper in which she allegedly said: “I don’t believe in Sharia [Islamic law.” Islamic hardliners called for punishment of Samar in a letter printed by Mujahed, a party-political newspaper. Observers at the assembly say the attack, coming just before cabinet appointments, could be a deliberate move to minimize her role in Afghanistan’s future government. Samar, who was elected deputy chairwoman of the loya jirga Wednesday, came under attack last week after she called for a “new Afghanistan, where our children do not play with guns for toys and are kept away from evil and corruption.” Islamic fundamentalists took that statement as a reference to themselves and mujahideen fighters and launched an angry protest.