KABUL: Amrullah Saleh, a former Afghan intelligence chief who was recently appointed as acting interior minister, on Tuesday vowed that he would be “merciless against criminals and enemies of the country.”
“I hope when I leave the post, people would attach two attributes to me: a sincere servant of the people and a merciless minister against criminals and enemies of the country,” Saleh said speaking at take-over ceremony.
Saleh said that casualties among Afghan forces have cultivated in him a “deep and strong sense of revenge.”
Saleh, who headed National Directorate of Security during 2004-2010, is seen as an uncompromising opponent of the Taliban and of Pakistan, which is accused of supporting the insurgent group.
His appointment as acting interior minister coincided with the appointment of another anti-Taliban former spy chief, Asadullah Khalid, as acting defense minister.
The changes in security leadership come as diplomatic efforts for peace in Afghanistan have intensified after US appointed Zalmay Khalilzad as special representative for reconciliation.
The envoy has met Taliban three times, but the group has refused to negotiate with the Afghan government.
“We are facing a devastating and imposed war before we reach peace,” President Ashraf Ghani said on Tuesday. “Handling the war requires greater resolve and seriousness… We are working on peace, but war also requires us firmness and handling.”
Amid reports US plan to withdraw half of its troops from Afghanistan, the president said that Afghan forces are now capable of independently defending the country.