History

The World Doesn’t Always Move Forward

In 1964, a king brought together a committee of experts. Their task, he told them, was to draft a constitution worthy of a modern country. Though democracy was a relatively foreign concept to this country, they planned to inch towards it. The experts, most of them educated in foreign lands, set about their work.

The constitution would create a new parliament with two houses, and the lower house would be elected. Universal suffrage was introduced, giving every adult citizen a vote, a say in the makeup of their parliament.

This parliament would be able to reject royal appointments to the government cabinet, and dismiss the government by vote of no confidence. Instead of meeting at the whim of the royal family as it had before, parliament would sit at regular intervals. Members had the legal right to say whatever they wanted in debate free of reprisal, and to form or join any political parties they wished. Laws passed by the parliament would be legally binding and sovereign, even over traditional religious law.

A council of nobles was called to debate the constitution line by line, including the passage of a bill of rights protecting the human rights of all citizens, including women. It passed.

This country was Afghanistan.

The Arg, the presidential palace of Afghanistan. (Source: wikimedia.org)

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