KABUL: The Afghan parliament Saturday voted to dismiss two powerful ministers for failing to act over cross-border shelling blamed on neighbouring Pakistan and over other security issues.
The move obliges President Hamid Karzai to sack Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, who has strong support among Afghanistan’s Western allies, and Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi, a key Karzai ally.
The men are expected to continue serving in an acting capacity until the president introduces replacements.
General Abdul Rahim Wardak will continue serving in the ministry as the acting defence minister until a new minister is introduced by the president,” defence ministry spokesman General Zaher Azimi told AFP.
The two ministers were summoned to appear Saturday before the Wolesi Jirga, or lower house of parliament, to defend their handling of the cross-border shelling and the overall security situation in a country facing a Taliban insurgency.
Late last month more than 300 heavy artillery shells and rockets were fired from Pakistan into Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province, killing at least four people, Afghan officials said.
It was the latest in a series of barrages and led Karzai’s government to warn Pakistan that any further cross-border shelling could significantly harm relations between the two uneasy neighbours.
Pakistan denied the claim and called it “incorrect”.
“Pakistani troops only respond to and engage militants from where they are attacked/fired upon,” said a senior military official in Islamabad.
Afghanistan and Pakistan typically blame each other for violence by Taliban militants plaguing both sides of their porous border.
Nato’s military force in Afghanistan also condemned the cross-border shelling from Pakistan after Kabul issued its warning.
The International Security Assistance Force “condemns the indirect fire attacks,” ISAF said in a statement.
“We continue to work with the Afghan ministry of defence, and the Pakistan government to ensure an end of these attacks.”
Nato has some 130,000 US-led troops in Afghanistan helping Karzai’s government fight Taliban insurgents.