The Summoning Game in the Parliament
The Wolesi Jirga of the Afghan Parliament is going to summon eleven cabinet ministers for under-spending the funds allocated for their relevant ministries. Last week, the chairpersons of Wolesi Jirga commissions agreed to summon the minister this week.
Summoning the ministers takes place after months of disagreements and bitter arguments between the lawmakers about the legality of the decision for summoning the ministers and the mechanism for that. Many MPs argue that the decision had been taken hastily and many of the eleven ministers could not be taken responsible for the mismanagement, since they have not been in the posts in 2012. But others insisted that the decision had been taken according to procedures and the House should go ahead with summoning the ministers.
Anyway, the issue is of crucial importance, as both the government and the parliament need to be committed to rule of law and national interests. No doubt, the ministers should be accountable for any sort of mismanagements including under-spending the funds and implementation of development projects. The government officials must face it that they are not above the law under any circumstances and are duty-bound to 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 receive no-confidence vote in a possible voting in the parliament. Of course, it would be a disaster for the executive and an absolute mess for the country’s administrative affairs.
In retrospect, we see that the Wolesi Jirga have had many flawed records of summons resulting to impeachment of high-ranking government officials. In past years, some highly-credited ministers were dismissed from their posts by no-confidence votes of the lawmakers. For instance, earlier this year, the lawmakers in the Wolesi Jirga 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 then. The question is that how the parliament could summon and probably disqualify a newly-appointed minister with no role in budget of the last fiscal year. For sure, summoning all the ministers with possible dismissals could pose a serious challenge for the government. The concern is the lawmakers may go ahead with the summoning process and likely number of the ministers would receive the vote of no-confidence and get disqualified. Perhaps, that would follow with appointing caretakers for the ministries by President Karzai, virtually paralyzing the ministries.