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Afghan Parliament Votes to Dismiss 2 Top Ministers


Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak in Kabul, June 7, 2012.

Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak in Kabul, June 7, 2012.

ISLAMABAD — Afghanistan’s lawmakers on Saturday fired the country’s ministers of defense and interior for being unable to stop cross border attacks from Pakistan.

Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Bismullah Mohammadi were voted out of office after lawmakers criticized them for failing to bring security to the country and protect top officials. They also accused the ministers of corruption.

Abdul Raouf Abrahimi, speaker of the lower house of parliament, said the ministers no longer had the confidence of the parliament.

Abrahimi said the ministers were dismissed from their jobs and the parliament now requests that President Karzai nominate new persons to the posts.

Lawmakers accused the defense and interior ministers of being unable to stop a series of cross border shellings and rocket fire from northwest Pakistan. The murky border line between the two countries is home to various militant groups that target both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Their dismissal comes as Afghanistan is rushing to build up its security forces in preparation for the full withdrawal of international combat forces in 2014.

Former member of the Afghan National Economic Commission and now an independent analyst Daud Sultanzai says the ministers’ ouster will make it more challenging and give even less time for Karzai to prepare the country for that transition.

"I think the removal of two key ministers from the security sector definitely will have some effect on the security preparedness of the country, at least in terms of planning and leadership," he said.

A lot depends on what President Karzai decides to do. In similar dismissals in the past, he has kept government leaders on a temporary capacity.

According to a statement released by his office, Karzai is to make a decision after a national security meeting on Sunday.

Analyst Sultanzai says it would take months for any new minister to effectively take over such sensitive portfolios.

"For unfamiliar individuals taking over these two huge responsibilities it will be a very difficult task, in my opinion," he said.

Corruption and insecurity have constantly plagued Mr. Karzai’s government. The international community has put good governance at the top of the list for Afghanistan to continue to receive aid after NATO combat forces leave.

Despite the steady increase of Afghan army recruitment, and the presence of international troops, the number of militant attacks has increased this year. And the situation along the border with Pakistan has deteriorated.

Afghanistan’s government has said Pakistan’s military is behind a series of attacks in the area, which it says has displaced and killed a number of civilians. Pakistan has said it is only attacking anti-Pakistan fighters.

Defense Minister Wardak said prior to Saturday’s vote that he had sent additional troops to the country’s eastern border area, as well as long-range artillery and ammunition.

Pakistan and Afghanistan accuse each other of not doing enough to eliminate militant bases within their borders.
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    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

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