He is known as the ‘King of the North’. Atta Noor, Afghanistan’s longest-serving provincial governor, has controlled the northern Balkh province for nearly 13 years. Under Mr. Noor, Balkh and it’s neighbouring provinces have seen a semblance of security and development even in the most tumultuous times. But today, Mr. Noor has raised a major political challenge to President Ashraf Ghani after the latter dismissed him as Governor. The President’s Office says Mr. Noor had submitted his resignation earlier, which has now been accepted. But Mr. Noor’s supporters say the resignation was conditional and since the conditions were not met, his dismissal is illegal.
“We do not accept this resignation,” the Jamiat-e-Islami, Mr. Noor’s party, stated last week. “No official, including the President, can remove Mr. Noor as the Governor of Balkh,” party chief Salahuddin Rabbani, who is also the country’s Foreign Minister, told local media. Mr. Noor too dismissed the resignation. In an interview last week, he told this writer that he would fight his “illegal” removal. “It was an undated resignation that was submitted as part of a larger deal, conditions of which have not been delivered.”
Not everyone in the Jamiat party has Mr. Noor’s back. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who, as Chief Executive, shares power in the national unity government with President Ghani, has backed his removal, showing signs of a deep divide within the party that’s largely constituted of the country’s ethnic Tajik.
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