Afghan Defense, Interior Ministers Dismissed by Parliament

Outgoing Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak
Outgoing Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak. Photographer: Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

The Afghan parliament dismissed President Hamid Karzai’s defense and interior ministers for failing to stop growing violence in the country and cross-border rocket attacks blamed on Pakistan.

Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Bismullah Khan Mohammadi were dismissed after giving unsatisfactory answers to lawmakers’ questions over recent attacks from neighboring Pakistan and corruption in their ministries.

“Despite undermining the security transition process for Afghan forces, the dismissal will be a good measure for bringing changes in the leadership of both ministries,” said General Abdul Hadi Khalid, a former deputy minister who now discusses security issues. “Parliament’s action is a good move to disqualify incompetent and corrupted ministers.”

Hours after the dismissal of the ministers on Aug. 4, about 60 rockets were fired from Pakistani soil into Afganistan’s eastern Kunar province and 32 more hit the area yesterday, Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi, the provincial governor, said in a phone interview. There were no casualties in the shelling.

As Afghanistan moves toward 2014 when NATO forces leave, the country “needs to remove all incompetent officials and replace them with other people favored by Afghan people,” Khalid said.

New Faces

Afghan President Hamid Karzai acknowledged parliament’s decision and directed both ministers to stay in their posts until replacements can be found, Karzai’s press office said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

Parliamentarians called on Karzai to introduce new faces to fill the posts, Shikeba Hashimi, an Afghan lawmaker said in a phone interview yesterday.

Wardak was removed by a vote of 146 to 72 and Mohammadi by 126 votes to 90 votes. To pass, each motion needed 124, Hashimi said.

Wardak had served as defense minister since 2004. An ethnic Pashtun, from the eastern province of Wardak, he was a national Mujahedeen leader who fought against the Soviet Union’s forces in the 1980s.

Mohammadi was a Mujahedeen leader who fought Soviet and Taliban forces alongside the Northern Alliance. An ethnic Tajik, from the Central Panjshir province of Afghanistan, he was appointed as interior minister by Karzai in 2010 after serving as chief of staff of the Afghan National Army since 2002.

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