Afghan parliament approves Karzai’s Cabinet line-up
KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghanistan’s parliament approved President Hamid Karzai’s choices for the vacant portfolios in his Cabinet on Monday in another step toward democracy, as his U.S.-backed government struggled with a resurgent Taliban and floods in the south.The slots had been left empty when Parliament rejected five of the 25 people Karzai initially chose in April. The completed Cabinet is the first approved by the Parliament since it was elected last year.Its new members include the minister of women’s affairs, Hosn Banu Ghazanfar, dean of the literature and language faculty at Kabul University. She was supported by 159 lawmakers, garnering the most support of the five new ministers.The others were Mohammad Jalil Shams for economy and labor, Mir Mohammad Amin Farhang for commerce and industry, Nimatullah Hesan Jawed for transport and aviation and Abdul Karim Khoram for culture and youth. All the new ministers were educated abroad.But growing cynicism about Karzai’s government is diluting Afghans’ enthusiasm over the progress toward democracy following the 2005 elections for the country’s first representative Parliament in more than 30 years.The government is increasingly viewed as ineffective, tainted by corruption and failure to deliver security, services or jobs to much of the country.Taliban rebels also have stepped up attacks this year, particularly in southern provinces, sparking the bloodiest fighting in nearly five years.NATO forces have embarked on a mission to defeat the rebels and create the conditions for much-needed development to take root in the south. Nine NATO troops have been killed in the past week since the alliance took command of security.Tom Koenigs, the top U.N. official in Afghanistan, warned the Taliban still posed a threat to Afghanistan and the insurgency will not be defeated quickly.”We should be more careful if we are going to tell you that (the insurgency) is going to be over in a year,” Koenigs said Monday.Meanwhile, government officials from Kabul visited southeastern Ghazni province to make the first direct delivery of aid to thousands of homeless people, three days after heavy rains caused floods that killed at least three people and destroyed 1,600 homes.The officials gave tents, plastic sheets and blankets to 45 families living with their relatives in the provincial capital, said Abdul Rahim Zareen, the spokesman for the Rural Rehabilitation and Development Ministry.U.S.-led forces on Monday uncovered a plot to ambush security forces in Ghazni, said spokesman Col. Tom Collins. They also learned that the Taliban were going door-to-door in some villages in the province, demanding each house provide at least one fighter to join their attacks on Afghan and foreign troops, he said.Afghanistan’s foreign minister, Rangeen Dadfar Spanta, urged the world to stem the flow of extremists, weapons and terror funding into the country.Spanta, in an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, said his country remains the main victim of Osama bin Laden’s terror network and eliminating it is “an international task.”He urged the international community to do more to fight what he called the sources of terrorism: Islamic schools, international sponsors and the influx of weapons – although huge amounts of weapons are believed to remain in Afghanistan from a quarter century of war.
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