The heads of Afghanistan’s security institutions on Monday defied a call by members of the Lower House of Parliament to brief them on the deteriorating security situation in the country.
This comes amid a concerted effort by the Taliban to expand offensives in some northern regions of the country.
Defense minister Tariq Shah Bahrami, minister of interior Wais Ahmad Barmak and head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) Masoom Stanekzai had been asked to brief lawmakers about the situation but the three lawmakers refused to appear in parliament. The denial sparked a strong retaliation from the MPs.
Lawmakers said the security chiefs insulted them by not attending the session and in turn called on the three leaders to step down.
But other MPs went even further and called for the resignation of President Ashraf Ghani and the reexamination of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Afghanistan and the United States.
“Mr. Ghani should step down from the presidency in a honorable way,” said Arif Rahmani, an MP.
“The bilateral security agreement between the US and Afghanistan must be reviewed,” said MP Shakiba Hashemi.
Barmak and Stanekzai however have said that they were not able to attend the session because they were working on plans to ensure security during the month of Muharram – which starts on Tuesday.
“Security and intelligence organs must be held accountable, you should send a message to them that their excuse is not acceptable, they must be summoned or impeached by parliament this Wednesday,” said MP Abdul Qadir Zazai.
“The security and defense leadership is busy in view of security being on red alert for the national and religious ceremonies,” said Irfanullah Irfan, second secretary of parliament.
“The strategy of the house towards the security must be taken into consideration and the national security strategy of the country must be reviewed,” said MP Abdul Qayoum Sajjadi.
MPs went on to say they will decide on the fate of the three officials at their next meeting.
This new development comes after Kabul was hit by a double bombing at a sports club that killed at least 26 people.
The Afghan security forces are also in heavy clashes with Taliban insurgents in Baghlan, Kunduz, Sar-e-Pul, Herat, Samangan, Farah and Maidan Wardak provinces.
Meanwhile, local officials in the northern Jawzjan province have confirmed that the center of Kham Aab district of the province has fallen to the Taliban.
Ismael, the district police chief confirmed the center collapsed after the Taliban stormed the district at about 4:15am local time early Monday morning.
“Fifty security force members have been surrounded by Taliban and if government does not send in reinforcements, security forces will be killed in the clashes,” he said, adding that “so far ten security force members have been killed in the ongoing clashes.”
“Seven security force members have been captured by the Taliban and seven uprising forces joined the Taliban,” he added.
In the meantime, Amruddin, a provincial council member said that “the district has fallen to hands of the Taliban after a deal and if reinforcements do not come, the Taliban will take the other parts of Jawzjan.”
However, he did not provide further details.
The Taliban have also confirmed the attack and claimed that “the district was completely captured” by Taliban fighters.
Also in the north, the Taliban attacked the center of northern Sar-e-Pul province on Sunday night and heavy clashes are still ongoing, local officials confirmed on Monday.
The clashes started on Sunday night after the Taliban attacked the center of the province from three directions, a spokesman for the provincial governor Zabihullah Amani confirmed. He warned that “if the government does not send reinforcements, the center will collapse to the Taliban.”v