Afghan parliament dismisses defense and interior ministers
From Hamid Shalizi, Reuters: Afghanistan's parliament voted on Saturday to dismiss the country's two top security ministers for failing to stop cross-border shelling blamed on Pakistan , in what could be a blow to NATO plans to reinforce stability and handover to Afghan forces.
The fractious parliament voted to remove Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi over a series of recent insurgent assassinations of top officials, as well as the cross border fire incidents infuriating many ordinary Afghans as well as politicians.
It was unclear whether President Hamid Karzai would accept the vote by MPs as his administration tries to bolster stability ahead of 2014 presidential elections and NATO's pullout the same year.
The president's office released a statement saying the beleaguered president, whose popularity has been hit by corruption problems and deteriorating security, would decide on Sunday whether to keep the pair in place, possibly in an acting role. . . .
Afghanistan has rushed additional troops and long-range artillery to the mountainous Pakistan border as tensions continue to rise over cross-border shelling which Afghan officials blame on Pakistan's powerful military.
Afghanistan has for months accused Pakistan's army of firing hundreds of rockets into the two eastern provinces of Kunar and Nuristan, targeting insurgent havens, but also forcing Afghan villagers to flee their homes. (photo: Sebastien Pirlet/Reuters)