Afghan approval for five ministers

Parliament endorses appointment of five new ministers while rejecting two others.

    Atmar was dismissed as interior minister after taking the blame for security lapses [AFP]

    Jamaher Anwary was approved as refugee minister.

    Despite the latest appointments, there are still seven posts that need to be filled in the cabinet of Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president.

    'Positive sign'

    Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from Kabul, said the approvals were a positive development for Karzai.

    "People have been losing their support in the government because of rampant corruption.

    In depth

      Inside Story: The Taliban's counter-strategy
      Focus: To win over Afghans, US must listen
      Timeline: Afghanistan in crisis
      Summer offensive warning
      Kandahar's sitting ducks
      Forces 'positive' on Afghan assault
      Afghanistan's influential elders
      Taliban second in command captured
      Karzai meets leader of Haqqani network

    "But these appointments are definitely a positive thing for Karzai, who has been trying to get these nominees a vote of confidence in parliament.

    "[Karzai] has been pushing for a wide-ranging peace process. He realises that the military option is not the only option, and that there is a need for some sort of political settlement.

    "To achieve that, he needs support from regional players and the international community."

    Meanwhile, the death toll of foreign soldiers killed in Afghanistan in the month of June has inched closer to 100 with the death of four more Nato soldiers on Sunday.

    The soldiers were killed inside their vehicle in Faryab province when a roadside bomb exploded.

    These deaths have pushed the Nato death toll in Afghanistan this year to 318 compared to 520 for the whole of 2009, according to the AFP news agency.

    Nato blames the rise in casualty numbers on expansion of its military operations and a more aggressive strategy in areas where the Taliban had previously been unchallenged.

    In another attack on Monday, at least eight civilians were killed when a homemade bomb struck a minivan in the central province of Ghazni, Afghan police said.

    It came a day after Leon Panetta, the head of the US Central Intelligence Agency, cautioned that the war in Afghanistan will be tougher and longer than expected.

    In an interview with ABC television on Sunday, he acknowledged "serious problems" with the war, saying: "We're dealing with a country that has problems with governance, problems with corruption, problems with narcotics trafficking, problems with a Taliban insurgency.

    "We are making progress. But it's harder and slower than anyone anticipated."

    Haqqani talks denied

    His comments came amid reports of secret talks being held between Karzai and Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of a major anti-government faction.

    Afghan officials, however, denied that any such meeting took place.

    "The [Al Jazeera] report is totally baseless, it is a lie and there is no truth in it," Waheed Omar, Karzai's spokesman, said.

    "We believe this is part of the same campaign to undermine the peace process and undermine the process that we are going to start very soon," he said, referring to plans by Karzai to hold talks with Taliban.

    "Militants wishing to join any peace plan must renounce violence, accept the Afghan constitution, and rescind ties with "international terrorist groups," Omar said.

    The Haqqani network is described by the US as one of the three main anti-government armed groups operating in Afghanistan.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    How the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. A journey across the Himalayas.