Afghan president reshuffles five cabinet ministers


Kabul : Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced Saturday a reshuffle in five ministries including the interior portfolio, amid mounting concerns about insecurity and rule of law caused by Taliban-led insurgents and criminal gangs in the war-torn country.

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Mohammad Hanif Atmar, former education minister, replaced Zarar Ahmad Muqbil as country’s interior minister, Karzai’s office said in a statement.

Muqbil, who had served as a interior minister since the formation of Karzai’s elected government in late 2004, was appointed minister for refugees and repatriation.

The reshuffle in the interior post was deemed a key plank in a programme to reform the infamous police forces of the country, who are widely accused of corruption and misuse of their power.

The move was also aimed to address Western frustration with Karzai’s government, which is viewed as ineffective outside the capital Kabul.

There are more than 80,000 police forces in the country. The poorly trained and equipped forces have borne the brunt of Taliban-led insurgency, as compared to Afghan army soldiers or foreign troops, the are present in the most remote areas of the country.

More than 750 police forces have been killed in violence so far this year, while more than 900 police personnel were killed in conflict last year, according to interior ministry’s tally.

The reshuffle also included ministries of education, agriculture and parliamentary affairs.

Gholam Farouq Wardak was appointed education minister, while Mohammad Asif Rahimi was designated minister for agriculture.

Former governor of southern Kandahar province Assadullah Khalid was appointed minister for parliamentary affairs.

Khalid, who took part in several anti-Taliban operations in the province, was accused by some Western countries of corruption and being incompetent to rule one of the country’s most important
provinces, which is also a main hotbed for Taliban insurgents.

The presidential statement said the list of appointees would be sent to the lower house of parliament for a vote of confidence.