News - Afghanistan
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said Saturday that it was aware of abuse allegations against Asadullah Khalid, but did not support calls for him to be dropped as the country's next intelligence chief.
AIHRC's Director for Central Afghanistan, Shamsullah Ahmadzai, told TOLOnews Khalid's past had already been investigated, but he did not discuss what the findings were.
"Regarding Mr Khalid, there were complaints about him when he was the governor of Kandahar, but the Independent Human Rights Commission reviewed the complaints in coordination with Khalid himself," Ahmadzai told TOLOnews.
"For the time being, the Human Rights Commission urges Mr Khalid or anyone else who will hold this position to stay committed to upholding human rights and the law, to consider all the national and international human rights regulations, and avoid any kind of violation."
Khalid, currently Minister for Border and Tribal Affairs, is expected to be appointed head of Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) after Rahumatullah Nabil was stood down by President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a statement Friday urging the Afghan government to drop Khalid and instead appoint someone with a more exemplary record.
"The NDS is desperately in need of reform to end its use of torture," HRW Asia director Brad Adams said in the statement. "President Karzai should use the appointment of a new NDS chief to demonstrate his commitment to ending torture by choosing someone whose integrity and commitment to human rights is above reproach."
Khalid has previously held positions as provincial governor of both Kandahar and Ghazni and reportedly had a private prison in Kandahar from 2005 to 2008.
HRW said there were credible allegations that Khalid used torture at the jail, including beating and electric shocks, which was later reported by the UN and local human rights activists. He has also been accused of corruption and high-level involvement in drug trafficking, all of which he has denied.
Regional journalist and commentator Ahmed Rashid said in an opinion piece in Pakistan's Financial Times that the appointment of Khalid, who is both one of Karzai's confidantes and who has long history of relations with the US, is set to present an aggressive stance towards Pakistan.
Describing it as a "startling change" from Nabil, Rashid explained that Khalid has a history as "a fiercely anti-Taliban former governor of Kandahar" and that he had faced several assassination attempts from the Islamists.
"He always blamed the attempts on Pakistan's military Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Mr Khalid and the ISI hate each other with a vengeance," Rashid said.
Rashid did not personally condone the choice, but suggested Khalid's appointment made sense for Karzai and his allies.
"Both Kabul and Washington are pleased with this new anti-Taliban mood, but also fearful of losing political control in key provinces bordering Pakistan to a new kind of people power that refuses to accept a government mandate. Under Mr Khalid the NDS will surely be entrusted with making sure that these movements are turned around to kick out the Taliban but embrace the government," he said.
Khalid's appointment will become part of Karzai's wider cabinet shake-up which will see a number of key positions changed.
CORRECTION: TOLOnews apologises for an earlier version of this story titled "Afghan Human Rights Commission Defends Khalid Appointment". Ahmadzai's comments broadly referred to the Commission's understanding of the allegations against Khalid. The AIHRC neither defended nor opposed Khalid's appointment.