Afghan parliament votes to dismiss top security officials

Summary dismissal The Afghan parliament voted Saturday to dismiss two of Afghanistan’s top security officials, Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Bismullah Khan Mohammadi, over the government’s failure to defend Afghanistan from rocket attacks blamed on elements of the military in neighboring Pakistan (AFP, NYT, ET, LAT). President Hamid Karzai on Sunday accepted ...

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages

Summary dismissal

The Afghan parliament voted Saturday to dismiss two of Afghanistan's top security officials, Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Bismullah Khan Mohammadi, over the government's failure to defend Afghanistan from rocket attacks blamed on elements of the military in neighboring Pakistan (AFP, NYT, ET, LAT). President Hamid Karzai on Sunday accepted parliament's decision, and asked the defense and interior ministers to stay on in an acting role until he can find replacements (WSJ, NYT, Guardian, AP, BBC, Reuters, AJE).

At least nine Afghan civilians were forced from their homes and executed last Wednesday by a police commander in Oruzgan Province in what officials are calling an act of revenge by Afghanistan's minority Hazara ethnic group against the ethnic majority Pashtuns (NYT, AP, ). The previous day, two Hazara men had been killed by the Taliban, which is primarily Pashtun. Afghan officials are investigating the incident. A bomb blast ripped through a mosque during Friday prayers in Nangarhar Province, wounding at least 19 people including the imam (AFP).

Summary dismissal

The Afghan parliament voted Saturday to dismiss two of Afghanistan’s top security officials, Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Bismullah Khan Mohammadi, over the government’s failure to defend Afghanistan from rocket attacks blamed on elements of the military in neighboring Pakistan (AFP, NYT, ET, LAT). President Hamid Karzai on Sunday accepted parliament’s decision, and asked the defense and interior ministers to stay on in an acting role until he can find replacements (WSJ, NYT, Guardian, AP, BBC, Reuters, AJE).

At least nine Afghan civilians were forced from their homes and executed last Wednesday by a police commander in Oruzgan Province in what officials are calling an act of revenge by Afghanistan’s minority Hazara ethnic group against the ethnic majority Pashtuns (NYT, AP, ). The previous day, two Hazara men had been killed by the Taliban, which is primarily Pashtun. Afghan officials are investigating the incident. A bomb blast ripped through a mosque during Friday prayers in Nangarhar Province, wounding at least 19 people including the imam (AFP).

The Taliban on Friday launched attacks on governors’ offices, police and army posts, and other government buildings in at least six districts of Afghanistan’s northeastern Kunar Province (NYT). There were no more than four deaths reported after the attacks, suggesting that the Taliban wanted to put on a show of force, but limit civilian casualties. On Saturday, two New Zealand soldiers were killed in a Taliban ambush in the largely peaceful province of Bamiyan (AP, AJE).

NATO officials said Monday that they had killed local Haqqani Network commander Sher Mohammad Hakimi in the eastern Afghan province of Logar in an airstrike on Sunday (AP).

In hot water

The Pakistan Army said in a statement on Friday that a military court had convicted five officers of links to the banned extremist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir, and handed them sentences ranging from six months to five years in prison (AP, BBC). Several Pakistani police officers in Sindh Province were suspended this weekend after parading a couple naked in public for purportedly trying to have sex outside of marriage (BBC, ET, Reuters).

A Pakistani border official said Saturday that the northwest border crossing to Afghanistan at Torkham had been reopened, following a two-week closure over security concerns (AP, AFP). But on Monday, militants once again opened fire on a NATO supply truck in the Jamrud area of Khyber Agency, killing the driver and injuring three members of the truck crew (CNN, AFP, Dawn). Also on Monday, a roadside bomb killed five militants in Khyber Agency, including a key militant commander (Dawn). And a bomb planted in a car in the southwestern province of Balochistan exploded in a residential compound on Sunday, killing five people including two women and two children (AP, ET, Dawn, AFP, The News).

U.S. and Pakistani officials are reportedly considering launching joint counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan targeting the Haqqani Network, which has launched several attacks on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and which U.S. officials believe receives support from elements of the Pakistani security establishment (WSJ). However, officials say the plans — discussed last week during talks between Pakistan’s new spy chief Lt. Gen Zaheerul Islam and top officials at the CIA, State Department, and Pentagon – are only promising at best.

In an interview this weekend, Pakistan’s interior minister Rehman Malik accused elements of the Afghan government of supporting a senior Pakistani Taliban leader known as Fazlullah, who Pakistani officials say has been organizing raids on Pakistani security forces from his sanctuary in Afghanistan (Reuters). The al-Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) announced on its website on Saturday that its leader Uthman Adil was killed in a U.S. drone strike on a militants hideout near Miram Shah, North Waziristan (NYT, The News).

Pakistan’s pseudoscience

Pakistani engineer Agha Waqar Khan first made headlines in Pakistan last month when he claimed to have broken some of the most rigid rules of physics and invented a car that could run on water (NYT). Though his "invention" has since been discredited, his celebrity status exemplified what some scientists in Pakistan deplore as the country’s "flood of academic garbage," presented as credible, and believed by the public, media, and government officials alike.

— Jennifer Rowland

Jennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.

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