Karzai makes fallen defense minister his adviser

Updated 14 August 2012

Karzai makes fallen defense minister his adviser

KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai appointed yesterday as senior adviser Abdul Rahim Wardak, the defense minister thrown out of Parliament for alleged security failures, in a move likely to be welcomed by Kabul's Western allies.
Wardak and interior minister Besmillah Muhammadi were dismissed by Parliament earlier this month for what MPs said was their failure to stop a resurgence in the 10-year Taleban insurgency and cross-border shelling from Pakistan.
Karzai had allowed the pair to continue serving in an acting capacity, but Wardak resigned a few days later.
He has now been appointed senior presidential adviser on army reform, development and armaments, Karzai said in a decree, calling him a “knowledgeable and experienced” general.
The appointment will meet with the approval of the US-led international coalition helping Kabul fight the insurgency by Taleban militants who were ousted from power in a 2001 invasion.
Coalition commander US General John Allen said in an effusive statement earlier yesterday that: “in my mind, he will always be the father of the modern Afghan army”.
Warden’s “extraordinary drive, competence and vision propelled him to leadership positions of the greatest importance”, Allen said.
The long-term Karzai ally had been in office since 2003 and his departure was seen to come at a critical time for Karzai's government.
NATO has some 130,000 US-led troops in Afghanistan helping Karzai's government fight the insurgency, but they will pull out by the end of 2014, handing responsibility for security to Afghan forces.

 


Priest who shared stage with Modi tests positive; India sees record number of cases

Updated 13 August 2020

Priest who shared stage with Modi tests positive; India sees record number of cases

  • Nritya Gopal Das, an 82-year-old Hindu priest, was the latest public figure to test positive
  • Television footage showed Modi holding Das’ hands and bowing before him

LUCKNOW, India: India reported another record jump in its surging coronavirus cases on Thursday with nearly 67,000 new infections, among them a religious leader who shared a stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a ceremony to launch construction of a grand temple.
Nritya Gopal Das, an 82-year-old Hindu priest, was the latest public figure to test positive after a string of Modi’s top cabinet colleagues were stricken with COVID-19, including interior minister Amit Shah.
With Thursday’s jump of 66,999 cases India now has nearly 2.4 million infections, according to the Health Ministry, behind only the United States and Brazil. For the last fortnight, it has been reporting 50,000 cases or more each day as it opens up the country after a months-long lockdown. Its COVID-19 death toll stands at 47,033.
Modi and Das were among 170 people who attended the Aug. 5 launch of the temple construction in the northern town of Ayodhya.
Dr. Murli Singh, director of information in Ayodhya, said Das had tested positive and was being moved to a hospital near Delhi. But he added that at the time of the ceremony the priest tested negative and so had not posed an infection risk to Modi.
Television footage showed Modi held Das’ hands and bowed before him. Modi’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Singh said people invited for the launch were all clear of the virus at the time.
“Guidelines were sent to all that only COVID-19 negative people will be allowed in the ceremony,” he said, adding doctors on the ground in Ayodhya had run tests before the event started.
The planned temple at Ayodhya is on a disputed site where Hindu groups have campaigned for decades.
Separately on Wednesday, a government committee said that the country would utilize its large vaccine manufacturing capacity to urgently deliver any potential COVID-19 vaccine to its neighbors and low-income countries.