Ghani appoints Atmar as acting foreign minister

President Ashraf Ghani has appointed his former national security advisor, Mohammad Haneef Atmar, as acting foreign minister. A decree issued by Ghani on Saturday, April 04, says that Haneef Atmar is a nominee for the position of foreign ministry.

Mr. Atmar needs to secure a vote of confidence by the Afghan parliament.  

Haneef Atmar, who was running for the 2019 presidential elections, withdrew his candidacy. He, however, did not support any candidate during the presidential contest. Under Hamid Karzai, Mr. Atmar served as Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Minister of Education and Minister of Interior.  

After the 2014 disputed presidential elections, President Ghani appointed Haneef Atmar as his national security advisor but he was pushed to resign in August 2018 as security situation worsened.

Haneef Atmar holds a master degree from York University. Under the Khalq regime, he worked with notorious KHAD, the then country’s spy agency. He has also worked with international NGOs.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is one of the key ministries, was previously run by Haroon Chakhansuri, the deputy foreign minister for political affairs.    

This comes while recently President Ghani appointed Shakir Kargar as his chief of staff, Sayed Wahid Qatali as governor of Herat, Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal as acting minister of finance, and Mohammad Tahir Zuhair as acting minister of information and culture.

Ashraf Ghani, who is criticized for his style of governance every so often, recently in an address to Afghan parliament, said that he would form an inclusive cabinet to assure equal participation for all ethnic groups and provinces.

Ghani’s vow to form an inclusive cabinet comes while the country is grappling with a squabbling political crisis. His rival Abdullah Abdullah, who is backed by powerful politicians and represents a political bloc, contested the final results of the 2019 disputed presidential elections, declaring himself as the president of inclusive government of Afghanistan. Efforts by Washington and NATO are underway to push Afghan leaders to form an inclusive government but little has been achieved as the two politicians still refuse to work in a united inclusive government.