* Dispute over nominations delaying key legislation
* Former defence minister sacked over deteriorating security
By Mirwais Harooni
KABUL, Sept 15 Afghanistan's parliament voted in
a new intelligence chief and two security ministers on Saturday,
stepping closer to settling a row with President Hamid Karzai
over ministerial appointments.
Political turmoil has delayed decisions on crucial
legislation, including a revised mining law being closely
watched by Western donors and foreign mining companies.
Any fresh dispute between Karzai and parliament could also
complicate the timetable for the planned transfer of security
responsibilities to Afghan forces and a withdrawal by most
foreign combat troops by 2014.
The nomination of the influential former Kandahar governor
Asadullah Khalid as the new head of the National Directorate of
Security (NDS), has alarmed human rights groups who say the NDS
has a long and well-documented history of torturing its
Diplomats and rights groups have linked Khalid to abuse of
suspected insurgents at a prison in Kandahar during his time as
An MP from northern Kunduz province, Shukria Paikan,
dismissed the human rights abuse allegations against Khalid.
"Until I see human rights violations by my eye, I never
trust any report or claim," she told Reuters. "Whenever we find
enough and accurate evidence, we will decide whether to keep him
as a chief of intelligence service or not."
Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, previously interior minister, was
voted in as defence minister, and former deputy interior
minister Mushtaba Patang became minister.
Some parliament members had said they wanted fresh
appointments to come from outside Karzai's increasingly
unpopular inner circle.
The approval of the majority of Karzai's appointments
averted a deepening row, although one ministerial position
remained vacant after the vote.
Haji din Mohammad, former governor of Kabul and close ally
of the president, failed to win parliament's vote of confidence.
"We wish success to our winning ministers and ask President
Karzai to appoint a new candidate as a minister of border
affairs" said lower house speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi.
Previous defence minister Abdul Rahim Wardak was sacked by
parliament over deteriorating security in Afghanistan, 11 years
after the NATO-led war against the country's former Taliban
New defence minister Mohammadi is an ethnic Tajik with a
strong power base in the country's north, while NDS chief Khalid
is an ethnic Pashtun with strong connections in the south, from
where the Taliban draw most support.
(Reporting by Mirwais Harooni and Hamid Shalizi; Writing by
Jessica Donati; Editing by Andrew Roche)