On Monday, Afghanistan’s lower house of parliament voted no confidence in Interior Minister Ghulam Mujtaba Patang. The lawmakers advocated his ouster on the basis of, among other things, worsening security on several of the highways that link Kabul to the surrounding provinces.
The vote was not terribly noteworthy for the predictable standoff it provoked between parliament and Karzai, who said he’d refer the matter to the Supreme Court for “advice.” As Gran Hewad and his coauthors point out at Afghanistan Analysts Network, Karzai and the legislature have had a testy relationship ever since Afghanistan’s first post-Taliban parliament was elected in 2005.
Rather, Patang’s Monday testimony to lawmakers, and his defense of his tenure, highlight the legal and structural issues that consistently undermine Afghanistan’s attempts to consolidate security ahead of the withdrawal of international forces, and Afghanistan’s hoped-for first democratic transfer of power, in 2014. Patang in essence said that it was not his ministry’s job to protect the highways. Patang’s Interior Ministry oversees the Afghan National Police; the Defense Ministry’s Afghan National Army, he said, bore responsibility for many of the isolated stretches of highway that have seen a resurgence of Taliban attacks.