Afghanistan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak speaks to Afghan and international media representatives Aug. 7 at the defense ministry in Kabul. Wardak abruptly resigned after parliament demanded his ouster but President Hamid Karzai kept him on in an acting capacity. (Massoud Hossaini / AFP via Getty)
KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s outgoing defense minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, abruptly resigned Aug. 7 after parliament demanded his ouster but President Hamid Karzai kept him on in an acting capacity.
The move by Wardak, who has strong support among Afghanistan’s Western allies, comes at a critical time as NATO prepares to pull its troops out in 2014 and hand responsibility for the fight against Taliban insurgents to local forces.
“In accordance with the decision of parliament as the highest legislative body, and with permission of the presidency, I declare my position as defense minister finished,” Wardak told a news conference.
Karzai on Aug. 5 accepted a decision by parliament to dismiss Wardak and Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi — his two top security ministers — but asked them to continue temporarily until they could be replaced.
He said he would offer them other posts within government, without giving details.
Parliament’s vote of no confidence Aug. 4 came amid tensions with neighboring Pakistan and increasing insurgent attacks.
The lawmakers said the ministers had failed in their handling of cross-border shelling barrages blamed on Pakistan and other security issues in a country facing an insurgency by hardline Islamists.
After similar moves against other ministers in the past, Karzai has sometimes kept them serving in an acting capacity for several months.