Fired Officials Defy Karzai

Several provincial administrators dismissed by the president are refusing to go quietly.

Fired Officials Defy Karzai

Several provincial administrators dismissed by the president are refusing to go quietly.

President Hamed Karzai is currently locked in a battle of wills with a number of provincial officials who are refusing to leave th125

eir posts after he fired them last month.

The president has refused to hear appeals from the sacked officials. But there are doubts over his ability to enforce his will outside Kabul, as local warlords and governors exercise complete control in most of Afghanistan’s 32 provinces.

The officials lost their jobs at the end of October, following an investigation by several ministries. They were accused of involvement in the smuggling of drugs and historic artefacts, embezzlement of customs duties, beatings, robberies and bribe-taking, as well failing to carry out basic duties and take orders from Kabul.

Among those who were dismissed are the mayor of Jalalabad; the heads of Nengarhar customs and Jalalabad agricultural deparments; the chief of police in Logar; and the chiefs of Kandahar, Farah, and Balkh intelligence services.

However, none of the sacked administrators were from north-eastern Afghanistan, where Northern Alliance commanders have complete control.

Some have claimed that they were fired without warning, and they protest that they should have been given a chance to defend themselves against the allegations. Others say they were fired only for their political affiliations.

Four officials who lost their jobs in Nengarhar province, for example, are members and commanders of the Islamic Party of Hekmatyar. Nengarhar is a particularly important province, because it is a major crossing point to Pakistan.

The governor of Nengarhar, Haji Din Mohammad, criticised the investigation and called the firings of the customs and agriculture department heads “unjustified”. Local conditions should be taken into account, he said.

“There are so many problems here,” Mohammad told IWPR. “All the offices of Afghanistan have shortcomings in every part.”

Engineer Ghaffar, the mayor of Nengarhar, is one of the officials who has consented to leave his post. However, he intends to visit Kabul shortly to protest against Karzai’s decision.

“We are surprised that our mistakes were not mentioned to us,” he said. “If the cause of our firing is that we are members of the Islamic Party, then there are lots of members still active in the government.”

Ghaffar was president of Nengarhar customs during the conflict that followed the fall of the Najibullah regime in 1992. Four years later, when the Taleban regime took over, he left his job to fight them. After the student militia was deposed, Ghaffar was appointed mayor of Nengarhar.

Engineer Merajuddin, sacked president of public works in Nengarhar, claimed that Karzai’s investigation had gathered false information about him. He visited Kabul to complain about his firing, but he was unsuccessful in his attempt to meet top officials.

However, not all are preparing to accept Karzai’s commands with grace. The governor of Logar province has already reinstated the former police chief Mohammad Tahir, according to locals.

And when the new director of education for the province tried to claim his post, the fired director waved a pistol at him and told him to stay away, according to a report in the Mashal-e-Democracy newspaper.

Locals in Mazar-e-Sharif say General Hameed, director of intelligence for Balkh province, is still in his job despite being fired by Karzai and can be seen in that role on local television every day.

Kandahar’s chief of intelligence, Kamaluddin Gulalai, is refusing to leave his post unless his allies agree that he should. And several of the fired officials in Farah province have released a statement demanding a meeting with the authorities to discuss the allegations.

Karzai’s spokesman Sayed Fazil Akbar has said the government must win this battle in order to exert its authority, and he reiterated that the president was not prepared to hear personal appeals from those concerned.

If the officials want to contest Karzai’s decision, they will have to do so through the courts, he added.

Rahimullah Samander is a reporter and editor for IWPR in Kabul.

Pakistan, Afghanistan
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