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Afghan Leader Names Appointees To Key Security Portfolios

Former Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi has been appointed defense minister.
Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai has named appointees to be the new ministers of defense and interior, and head of intelligence.

All the appointees are well-known government loyalists and officials, leading some observers to describe the changes as a mere reshuffling and a continuation of policies that have held sway in Kabul for years.

Afghan media on September 3 quoted an unnamed presidential adviser as confirming that former Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi had been appointed defense minister.

The official said Deputy Interior Minister Ghulam Mujtaba Patang had been appointed interior minister, and former Frontiers Minister Asadullah Khalid was appointed new intelligence chief.

Former Kabul Governor Din Mohammad was named the new minister of frontiers.

Mohammadi and former Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak were ousted last month after parliament faulted them for failing to protect the border from attacks originating in Pakistan. Karzai last week dismissed intelligence chief Rahmatullah Nabil.

'Reshuffle, Nothing More'

Mohammadi, Khalid, and Mohammad are all considered close to Karzai, serving in a variety of ministerial and provincial governor posts during the past decade. Patang is a professional police officer and is not known for deep factional association.

The appointees were expected to be introduced to parliament on September 3 for approval.

Attiqullah Ammarkhel, a former Afghan military officer, says the nominations represent a continuation of past practices of closed-door deal-making, intrigues involving factional rivalries, and promotion of personal favorites.

Ammarkhel says the Karzai administration remains inherently weak, trapped between competing factions and regional strongmen.

He says the persistent struggle between factions and personalities has contributed to preventing the U.S.-backed government from delivering on promises to provide security, economic development, and good governance.

"All the major problems [the Afghans face] are unimportant for this government. They are merely engaging in filling up top posts to please certain individuals. They are not even paying any attention to the constitution they had crafted," Ammarkhel says.

"I can tell you bluntly, these appointments are not going to resolve the fundamental problems of Afghanistan."

He notes that corruption and inefficiency are often the result of this style of governing.

Karzai has repeatedly promised to clean up corruption -- but analysts say there have been few results from his initiatives.

According to Transparency International, a global corruption watchdog, Afghanistan is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

With reporting by dpa and AP
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    Abubakar Siddique

    Abubakar Siddique, a journalist for RFE/RL's Radio Azadi, specializes in the coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is the author of The Pashtun Question: The Unresolved Key To The Future Of Pakistan And Afghanistan.

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