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Wolesi Jirga asks govt to name remaining cabinet picks, seeks peace talks details

Abdul Zuhoor Qayomi-KABUL: The Wolesi Jirga (WJ) on Saturday asked the government for details about progress in the peace process and list of the remaining cabinet picks for vote of confidence.

Expressing concerns over incomplete cabinet the lawmakers said that managing affairs of provinces and several ministries by the caretakers have created challenges for the public as well as the government. They also sought details about the ongoing efforts of the government to reconcile with the insurgent groups. The legislators also questioned sincerity of Islamabad in the peace process.

Sher Wali Wardak, an MP from Kabul, said the neighboring countries want to exploit Kabul under the pretext of the peace parleys because the process has been politicalized. “Therefore, the Afghan government should share details regarding the peace process with representatives of public in the parliament,” he said.

Alleging the government of negligence about security, Wardak said that insecurity is increasing with each passing day in many parts of the country including the capital but the authorities are acting like spectators. He added that security situation has deteriorated in the fifth police jurisdiction of Kabul City.

Habiba Danish, an MP from Takhar, also criticized the National Unity Government (NUG) leaders for their failure to complete the cabinet. She said the “imperfect cabinet” has earned bad reputation for the NUG in the international community.

“Lack of ministers caused a kind of administrative anarchism. Meanwhile, hiring and firing by the new ministers have become order of the day. At the same time, the acting ministers cannot hire or sack anyone,” Ms Danish said.

Fakori Beheshti said the government’s failure to introduce the remaining cabinet members to the parliament for vote of confidence has fueled insecurity in many parts of the country and even the highways are not safe.

He said that appointments are only made by the president and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the country. “This practice caused joblessness and anarchism in the government offices,” he underlined.

The uncertainty had given an opportunity to the insurgents to establish hold in different parts of the country. Earlier, 31 Afghan passengers returning from Iran were kidnapped in Zabul by unidentified men. Their fate is still uncertain.

A week ago, unknown armed men in the fifth jurisdiction of the capital city killed 11 people in a mosque.

Terming continuation of job by the caretakers as illegal, Speaker of the WJ, Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, asked President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah to send the remaining picks for vote of confidence on emergency basis.

It is while Ashraf Ghani, flanked by a high-level delegation, left Kabul on Saturday for a two-day official visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Ghani is scheduled to meet King Salman and other top Saudi officials.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that Ghani’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the first country to formally recognize the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, is aimed at paving grounds for peace talks with the insurgent group.

The delegation includes the National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar, First Deputy to the CEO Mohammad Khan, Minister of Hajj and Religious Affairs Faiz Mohammad Osmani, Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai, High Peace Council (HPC) Secretariat Chief Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai and other senior government officials.

Accelerating the peace efforts, Ghani had recently consulted the former Jihadi commanders, civil society activists and religious leaders in Kabul.

Pakistan’s government and military officials have also announced their support for the peace process with the Taliban with a promise to bring the group to the negotiation table.

The speaker of WJ said the president and CEO had to introduce the remaining 17 cabinet members to the Wolesi Jirga before leaving for Washington. Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah are expected to leave Kabul for Washington in near future on official trip.

Ibrahimi said the government should brief the lawmakers about efforts and progress of the peace talks.

According to local media, the Taliban has denied reports about talks with the Afghan government.

Earlier, the chief of Meshrano Jirga or the senate chairman, Fazulhadi Muslimyar, expressed his concerns over success of the talks and said, “We do not want a type of negotiations and peace that would make Kabul victim of conspiracies hatched by Islamabad.”

He said the Taliban would use their retired leaders such as their ex-foreign minister Wakeel Ahmad Motawakil and their ambassador to Islamabad Mullah Abdul Salam Zaif as negotiators while the war would continue and fought by those Taliban who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

Ex-President Hamid Karzai in his recent interview with the Guardian also urged the NUG to avoid being coming under pressure from Islamabad in the name of peace talks.

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