Afghan President Names Remainder of Cabinet Except Women's Affairs Post

President Hamid Karzai named the rest of his Cabinet on Saturday, filling more than a dozen posts but leaving one conspicuously vacant — the ministry of women's affairs.

Karzai's spokesman Ahmed Yusuf Nuristani announced the remaining appointments but gave no explanation for why the previous minister of women's affairs, Seema Samar, had not been reappointed.

But as an outspoken advocate of women's rights, she was clearly unacceptable to the religious establishment. There were reports she was even threatened by extremists during this month's loya jirga.

Karzai had already announced half of his Cabinet on Wednesday, the final day of the grand council gathering that re-elected him. His complete list of ministers was aired Saturday on Afghan radio and television.

The northern alliance that drove the Taliban from power with the help of U.S. bombs promised to enshrine the rights of Afghan women, who were deprived of basic liberties under the Taliban.

But only one woman was reappointed to the Cabinet. She was Dr. Sohaila Siddiqi, who was retained Wednesday as health minister.

International observers said warlords at the loya jirga threatened some of the women, who accounted for about 200 of the 1,650 delegates.

Masooda Jalal, the woman who challenged Karzai for the post of president, was reportedly told it was offensive to Islam for a woman to run. Her husband said she was encouraged to step down. She refused.

Those named to the Cabinet included Yunus Qanooni, the former interior minister, who gave up his post at the outset of the loya jirga. He was named special adviser to the president on security issues and agreed to take the education ministry, a portfolio he had initially refused.

Karzai's Cabinet was seen as an attempt to balance Afghanistan's ethnic groups, giving all a share of power.

The interim Cabinet that ruled for the last six months was heavily weighted in favor of ethnic Tajiks from the Panjshir Valley who controlled the three most powerful ministries of defense, foreign and interior.

Qanooni gave up the interior ministry and Karzai appointed Taj Mohammed Wardak, a Pashtun. Afghanistan's majority ethnic Pashtuns felt marginalized in the last regime. Most Pashtuns complained they were punished because the Taliban movement was dominated by ethnic Pashtuns.

Also noticeably absent from Karzai's Cabinet are former ministers who were loyal to Afghanistan's former king Mohammad Zaher Shah. They include the former finance minister Amin Arsala and aviation minister Zalmay Rasul.

The former monarch said at the start of the meeting that he had no desire to play a political role and he didn't want to see the monarchy reinstated in Afghanistan.

Karzai told the loya jirga that the king was the "grandfather of the nation," and would move back into the palace where he had lived before being driven into exile in 1973.

Other Cabinet ministers appointed Saturday included Justice Minister Abbas Karimi, an Uzbek, and Information and Culture Minister Saeed Makhdoom Rahim, a Tajik.

The Reconstruction Minister is Mohammed Fahim Farhang, a Pashtun, and the new Haj and Mosques Minister is Mohammed Amin Naziryar, a Pashtun. The Urban Affairs Minister Yusuf Pashtun is also a Pashtun.

The new public works minister is Abdul Qadir, a Pashtun while the social affairs ministry went to Noor Mohammed Karkin, a Turkman and water and power went to Ahmed Shakar Karkar, an Uzbek.

The Irrigation and Environment Minister is Ahmed Yusuf Nuristani, a Pashtun. The new Martyrs and Disabled Minister is the Pashtun Abdullah Wardak. Sharif Faez, a Tajik, is the new Higher Education Minister.

The Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister is the Tajik Mir Wais Saddiq and Mohammed Ali Jawad, a Shiite, is Transportation Minister. The Rural Development Minister is Hanif Asmar, a Pashtun.