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Afghan Parliament Sacks Interior Minister

  • RFE/RL

Outgoing Afghan Interior Minister Ghulam Mujtaba Patang at a press conference in Kabul on July 13

Outgoing Afghan Interior Minister Ghulam Mujtaba Patang at a press conference in Kabul on July 13

Afghanistan's parliament has dismissed the country's interior minister.

The parliament voted on July 22 to sack Ghulam Mujtaba Patang for rising insecurity in the country and growing corruption within the Interior Ministry.

The parliament said that Patang also failed to attend a parliamentary hearing on security earlier.

Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi announced the results of the vote in the 250-member lower house of the Afghan parliament after 136 lawmakers voted for Patang's dismissal.

Karzai has decided appeal the dismissal at the Afghan Supreme Court. Karzai has also asked Patang to remain in an acting capacity, which has happened when other cabinet members have been voted out.

The sacking is seen as a major challenge as Karzai's administration tries to improve security ahead of presidential elections and NATO's withdrawal next year.

Patang, who was present during the stormy session, faced scathing criticism from the legislators.

Lawmaker Nawab Mangal charged that Afghanistan has become less safe during his time in office.

"The overall security situation has deteriorated across the country and is expected to deteriorate further," Mangal said. "For example, [security on] all the major highways from the capital Kabul to the cities of Ghanzi, Kandahar and Herat has worsened. Supply convoys are now routinely robbed and burned on these roads."

Patang, a former professional police officer who is well-liked by Karzai's Western backers, forcefully countered the corruption allegations.

He accused a number of MPs of pressuring him for permits to carry heavy weapons and making other illegal demands. However, he did concede that there were problems inside his ministry.

"Even a couple of my deputy ministers were among those who were campaigning against me and distributing money [among lawmakers] saying that 'the interior minister may eventually get impeached and I want to replace him,'" Patang said. "But things cannot go forward this way. We all know that the president nominates the interior minister and parliament only votes."

Patang also painted a grim picture of the security situation in the country. He told lawmakers that some 2,748 police officers, or about 2 percent of the force, had been casualties of Taliban insurgent attacks since the spring. His office later clarified that the figure included those who were wounded.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan