KABUL   - Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in a decree on Sunday nominated Amrullah Saleh as Minister of Interior and Assadullah Khalid as Minister of Defence, reported ToloNews and Arab News.

Saleh and Khalid have served as head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) during former president Hamid Karzai’s government.

Saleh was appointed as state minister for security reforms last year in March. But he resigned from the post after a short time.

Both are hardline opponents of neighbouring Pakistan, potentially complicating US efforts to revive peace talks with the Taliban ahead of next summer’s withdrawal of 7,000 American troops.

Both Amrullah Saleh and Asadullah Khaleed are former intelligence chiefs who have blamed Pakistan for the Taliban’s resurgence in recent years and have even called for it to be declared a state sponsor of terror.

According to the decree, President Ghani has assigned the State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs to introduce them to the Wolesi Jirga for getting vote of confidence.

Assadullah Khalid was appointed as head of the NDS by the former president in September 2012. He was minister of tribal and border affairs before he was appointed as head of the NDS.

Khalid was wounded in an assassination attempt in Kabul in 2012.

Asadullah Khalid will replace Gen Tariq Shah Bahrami while Amrullah Saleh will replace Wais Ahmad Barmak who were serving as the ministers of defence and interior before the latest appointments announced.

The appointments met with mixed reaction from Afghan critics as some of them said the decision was nothing but President’s “lobbying” for the presidential elections.

“We consider the nomination of Amrullah Saleh and Assadullah Khalid a positive step towards improvement of Afghanistan’s security. It is in the interest of Afghanistan and I am confident that the country will move towards the right direction,” said Hashem Alokozay, head of Meshrano Jirga’s defence and security commission.

“Change must happen in the leadership of ministries of defence and interior affairs. But the nomination of these two personalities in the view of elections is aimed at helping them play a better role in favour of the President,” said Mohammad Radmanish, a retired army general.

“Minister of defence, minister of interior and head of the National Directorate of Security should be professional people. They should have good recognition of who are capable of good discipline and defending the country,” said Attiqullah Amarkhail, a military affairs analyst.

“They (Khalid and Saleh) are professional, but the incumbent ministers also implemented their works in a better way. They have been facing with challenges in the view of threats we are faced from outside and because of the internal elements, but there is no doubt on their expertise and knowledge,” said Mirza Mohammad Yarmand, former deputy minister of interior.

BID TO BLOW UP LAGHMAN BRIDGE FOILED

The Afghan security personnel have foiled a plot by anti-government armed militants to detonate a bridge in eastern Laghman province.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said the security forces discovered and defused four improvised explosive devices planted under a bridge in Qaraghai district of the province.

The statement further added that the landmines were discovered and defused by the Special Forces Unit of the Afghan National Police.

The anti-government armed militants including Taliban have not commented regarding the report so far.

Laghman is among the relatively calm provinces in east of Afghanistan where fewer reports regarding terrorist-related incidents emerge from.

However, the anti-government militants including Taliban have been attempting their foothold and insurgency in this province.

Earlier, reports had also emerged that the ISIS militants are also attempting to expand their foothold in this province from the neighbouring Nangarhar province.