Interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai has officially convened a commission to organize a Loya Jirga, or Grand Council -- the next step toward elected government in Afghanistan.
Mr. Karzai promised the new 21-member commission today (Thursday) in Kabul that his government will not interfere in its work.
The panel -- chaired by an expert in constitutional law, Ismail Kassim Yar -- must organize a Loya Jirga before the current six-month term of the interim government expires in June. All Afghanistan's ethnic, regional and religious groups are to participate in the Grand Council.
Under the terms of the Afghan power sharing agreement reached at a conference last year in Bonn (Germany), the Loya Jirga will chose a transitional government to replace the interim administration. The transitional government is to rule Afghanistan for 18 months before national elections are held.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry has announced that Mr. Karzai will visit Pakistan Friday. It will be Mr. Karzai's first visit to Islamabad since assuming office in December.
Pakistan had backed Afghanistan's former Taleban regime, but joined the U-S led war on terrorism that ousted the Taleban. Pakistan now says it wants to see a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.