Afghan parliament rejects second defense minister nominee

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But McCain said that with the rise and spread of Taliban attacks amid the past drawdown of US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops and the emergence of Islamic State in Afghanistan, Obama’s timetable will put at risk the gains made since the fall of the Taliban government.

Sen. John McCain warned Saturday that a calendar-based pullout of US troops from Afghanistan as outlined by the Obama administration would be a serious mistake, emboldening the Taliban and allowing the country to once again become a stronghold for militants. “That will be a tragedy”, McCain said in Kabul, adding that it opens the door “for the Taliban to gain great success in Afghanistan”.

“I think the most serious mistake the United States could make… would be to have a calendar-based withdrawal”, McCain told a press conference at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters in Kabul. The worldwide numbers will be reduced further at the end of 2016.

But the current USA administration would like to see a total exit for its personnel over the next 15 months, a decision McCain said required a “reassessment”.

Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai received only 84 of the 231 votes that were cast.

Meanwhile, Afghan lawmakers rejected President Ashraf Ghani’s nominee for defense minister, a position that has remained empty for more than nine months amid some of the toughest fighting since the Taliban insurgency began 14 years ago.

The first nominee for defense minister was rejected in January and another removed himself from being a candidate before a vote was held.

The repeated delay on the appointment is reportedly due to differences between Ghani and his chief executive and ex- presidential election rival, Abdullah Abdullah, over their choice of candidate, with many linking the leadership vacuum to a recent uptick in deadly insurgent attacks.

Stanekzai is better known as a peacemaker, having led the High Peace Council negotiating body charged with ending the conflict with the Taliban. The victims, aged 16 and 17, were hospitalized in stable condition, said Mohammad Rafiq Sherzai, spokesman for the Herat hospital.

Authorities on Saturday also raised the death toll from a Taliban attack on several police checkpoints in Wardak province.


Authorities have regained control of the checkpoints, which had been overrun by Taliban fighters.