News - Afghanistan
Both the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament on Tuesday erupted in the most sweeping and damning criticism of the national unity government's handling of security threats since the new administration took office last year. A number of lawmakers went so far as to explicitly call for President Ashraf Ghani's resignation.
The National Assembly's rebuke occurred as top security officials were summoned to an emergency session of Lower House's security and defense committees in order to answer questions about deteriorating security conditions around the country. At the end of Last week, over 20 Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers were ambushed at an outpost - with some soldiers even beheaded - by Taliban and Daesh militants in Jurm district of Badakhshan province.
"Mr. President, if you have a deal with America, China, Daesh or Pakistan, and sacrifice our country's sons, we will stop you, as we are defending our land," MP Aqbal Safi Kohistani said to those gathered in the Lower House chamber on Tuesday. "Go and resign, and let us live," he said.
Others pointed blame at both of the national unity government leaders. "There is no other way except to go through Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah's door and tell them that 'for god sake you can not control the country and should resign,'" MP Aqa Jan said.
The Upper House of Parliament also chimed in with its own criticisms, though many of them extended beyond shortcomings in addressing security threats, and shed light on broader reservations representatives from around the country harbor toward the national unity government leadership.
"The president goes to Washington and apologizes for the Taliban, isn't it shameful?" asked Senator Afzal Shamel.
"Now it is not the time for wearing a tie and driving luxury cars and going to Dubai, but it is time to stand beside our soldiers and fight," Senator Faisal Sami said.
The commentary from lawmakers was not limited to condemnations of political leaders, however. MPs also expressed harsh criticism of military officials, who were gathered to address the questions of the legislators, but were confronted with accusations of corruption and incompetence, and even collusion with insurgents.
"Mr. Chief of Army Staff, if your commanders and your traitors are selling security outposts, then we are not responsible for our sons being beheaded every day - you must be responsible," MP Shakiba Hashimi said.
"These are commanders who sold the country at the expense of our children's blood and sold vehicle fuel so the soldiers could not escape," MP Nilofar Ibrahimi claimed.
In a clear attempt to distance himself from the Badakhshan incident, as well as the broader allegations being made by the MPs, Chief of Army Staff General Sher Mohammad Karimi cast blame on Azizullah Raoufi, the commander of the 3rd battalion of the Shaheen brigade, for the recent deaths and beheadings of the ANA soldiers. He asserted that just prior to the attack Raoufi had taken leave in Kabul and left the province without first coordinating with the Ministry of Defense (MoD).
"Our battalion commander, without informing anyone, was in Kabul when the attack took place and now he is under investigation," Gen. Karimi said. He then shifted attention to what he described as major deficiencies in the officier-class leadership of the ANA, and the lack of air support technology and advanced weaponry being provided to the Afghan military despite bilateral agreements with the United States.
Minister of Interior Noor-ul-Haq Ulumi said militant activity across the border in Pakistan has demonstrated intentions to destabilize northern Afghanistan. "Movements going on in our neighboring region of north Waziristan indicate that efforts are underway to insecure our country's northern areas," he told Parliament on Tuesday.
After the open question and answer session, the internal security and defense committee meetings were held behind closed doors, without the media present.
Meanwhile, the Presidential Palace spoke out about the Badakhshan incident, promising a thorough investigation into who is responsible for the tragedy. "Tonight an emergency meeting of the National Security Council will be held in order to assess the current security situation, and all aspects of the Badakhshan incident will be reviewed, and who ever is responsible will be punished," presidential spokesman Ajmal Obaid Abidi said.