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Atmar-Saleh resignation: Culture of accountability or expediency?Written by
Saturday, 12 June 2010 12:50
Atmar-Saleh resignation: Culture of accountability or expediency?
By Enayaturahman Mayar
One of them would be the eyes of U.S., the other one of Britain and the President would like to rule without being watched too closely or atleast prefer to be watched by palace loyalists. One of them could be incompatible with the will of bringing Taleban to a peace table as to any Pakistani role in the process. Thus far no final conclusions are possible on the crises.
The resignation of two senior security officials has kept Kabul abuzz since their dramatic departure from the government after several years in high positions. Minister of Interior Hanif Atmar and Chief of the National Directorate of Security, the nation's intelligence agency were called to the Presidential palace on the afternoon of June 6 and asked to account for the lapse in security which led to the attacks on the Peace Jirga on the inaugural day. Since the President was not satisfied with their explanations the two apparently submitted their resignations.
President Karzai has asked the Deputy interior Minister Munir Mangal and the Deputy of the National Security Directorate Ibrahim Spinzada to work as acting heads of the two organizations until new heads are appointed.
Immediately after the resignation the two senior officials held press conferences to say they were accepting responsibility for the lapse in security. While Saleh hinted at other factors, Atmar has not made any further exculpatory statements. Atmar said he was carrying his resignation in his pocket when he went to see President Karzai. "We presented the whole report to the president outlining the security measures and what it was that the enemy took advantage of. But, unfortunately, the president was not convinced by the information we provided".
Saleh on the other hand described the jirga as the last straw in growing differences with the President on the approach on security. President Karzai, Saleh said, had lost trust in the intelligence agency. He also said he had decided to resign since Karzai viewed him as an obstacle to the reconciliation process with the Taliban. He particularly mentioned the president's decision to appoint a commission for the release of Taliban prisoners as a factor impelling his decision to resign since he felt the role and responsibility of the security agencies had not been respected.
The Peace Jirga had called for the release of prisoners who were innocent or had been falsely framed, following which the President had appointed a high commission for review of the cases.
Some analysts believe that the two security officials were pressurized to quit their jobs rather than having done so voluntarily. "They were called by President Karzai and they tried for four hours to convince Karzai but they never succeeded. They had no choice so they resigned. If they really wanted to resign due to their failures, then they should have done so the first, second or the third day" says political analyst Daad Noorani.
Saed Mujtaba Nael, professor in Baghlan University however felt that the two officials had set an example with their conduct. "It is a moral duty that needs to be practiced by other ministers as well and by those ministers who have failed to fulfill their responsibilities."
Political analyst Habibullah Rafi felt the resignation was a result of cumulative security failures that included the "assassination attempt on Karzai last year during the celebration, attack on the UN guesthouse in Shar-e-Now and similar incidents."
The growing lack of trust between the President and the key security officials was seen as a cause by some analysts like Ahmad Saedi: "The relations between Karzai, Atmar and Saleh have been cold for the last six months because President Karzai thought they both had close relations with Americans and Brits and followed their advice. Therefore, President Karzai wasn't prepared to trust them and removed them from the office". He also alleges that Atmar and Saleh were removed to please Pakistan, saying "Pakistan used to oppose Saleh's political stance and were trying to make matters worse for him."
Ustad Habibullah Habibi says that the two officials were more successful compared to other government officials. While the resignations may have paved the way for a new culture, the resignations would be meaningless unless competent figures were appointed in their place.
The reaction from the international community which both officials had close relations with has been mixed. A Western security expert who worked closely with the Interior Minister and head of the intelligence agency, was quoted in a western newspaper as saying "the fact that two key government officials resigned is a disaster for Westerners who are working to stabilize the country and this makes the job even tougher for the international community. The two government officials had done a good job of maintaining security and eradicating corruption and if they are replaced by corrupt officials then we should pull out".
A report in a western newspaper states that Saleh's resignation will make Pakistan happy because Saleh accused many Taliban attackers of having links with the Pakistan.
An analyst of the International Crisis Group, Candace Rondeaux, said the resignations would have a negative impact as the Taliban intensify their attacks in the country. This would cause chaos in the two government entities.
U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates has however merely asked President Karzai to appoint competent officials in the place of the two figures. He said that this would not affect the efforts underway to reconcile with the Taliban.