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Summoning the Ministers: A Responsible Move?

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The Lower House of the Parliament, the Wolesi Jirga, is to summon eleven cabinet ministers today for under-spending the funds for their relevant ministries. The deputy speaker of the lower house on Saturday warned that the lawmakers could bring no-confidence vote against the ministers who neglect summon of the House and fail to appear there on Monday.

This is while the lawmakers spent weeks on discussing whether to summon the ministers and the mechanism for that. Many MPs argued in the House’ sessions that the decision had been taken hastily and many of the eleven ministers could not be taken responsible for the mismanagement, because they were not in the post during past year. But others insisted that the decision had been taken according to procedures and the House should go ahead with summoning the ministers. During the sessions of the House, the lawmakers exchanged harsh arguments defending or opposing the move by parliament. But finally they went on with a go-ahead decision on summoning the ministers on Monday.

Anyway, the issue is of crucial importance, as both sides need to be committed to national interests and remain accountable before the law. No doubt, the ministers should be accountable for any sort of mismanagement including under-spending the funds and implementation of development projects. The government officials must face the fact that they are not above the law under any circumstances and should do their jobs with accountability.

But the lawmakers also need to be reminded that their decisions resulting to disqualification of high-ranking government officials should reflect national interests and be undertaken by high sense of commitment and accountability. Assume that many, if not all, of the eleven ministers gets no-confidence vote in a possible vote for the ministers in the parliament. Of course, it would be a disaster for the executive and an absolute mess.

In retrospect, we see that the Wolesi Jirga have had many flawed records of summons resulting to impeachment of the officials. In past, some highly-credited ministers were dismissed from their posts by no-confidence vote of the lawmakers. For instance, earlier this year, the House disqualified Bismillah Mohammadi and Abdul Rahim Wardak then ministers of interior affairs and defense. The dismissal of former Interior and Defense Ministers was considered as a big blunder by the lawmakers, which took place at a crucial time – ahead of foreign troop’s withdrawal.

As many argue, it is questionable to question performance of an official at a specific period of time when he had no role there. The question remains that how the parliament can summon and subsequently impeach some of the newly-appointed ministers with no role in budget of the past fiscal year. It is of profound concern if the lawmakers, as said, go ahead with agenda of pressurizing the cabinet ministers, particularly if the move results to disqualifying a number of the ministers. Perhaps, that would follow with appointing caretakers for the ministries by President Hamid Karzai, virtually paralyzing the leadership of the ministries.

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