NDS Chief and Defence Minister appointed by Afghan Parliament 

NDS Chief and Defence Minister appointed by Afghan Parliament 

KABUL: (APP) Afghan lawmakers on Monday approved President Ashraf Ghani's nominees for defence minister and intelligence director, two crucial posts that sat vacant for months as the country struggles to rein in an ascendant insurgency.

The confirmations came as attacks left at least 23 people dead across Afghanistan Monday and wounded dozens more, as the Taliban's resurgence continues to raise serious questions about the ability of Afghan forces to hold their own without the support of US-led NATO troops.

MPs voted for Abdullah Habibi, formerly a senior official in the defence ministry who holds the rank of army general, to become its new minister.

Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, a former top official in the government body overseeing the country's peace process who has worked to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, was named head of Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) intelligence agency.

"We congratulate them and wish them success," parliament chairman Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi announced after the vote, which was welcomed by Ghani.

"Now that we have all security ministers in place, it will have a very positive impact on the ground," analyst Zalmay Wardak, a former military official, told AFP.

"In the past, as acting ministers, none of them would feel responsible, but now they can be taken accountable. This also gives a new energy to our security forces," he said.

Ghani had originally named Stanekzai to head the defence ministry last year, but parliament rejected him, leaving the post vacant until Monday's confirmation of Habibi.