An Afghan Air Force (AAF) pilot named Abdul Rahman Rahmani has been brought in for questioning by the AAF's criminal investigation department allegedly regarding remarks he made on social media about pilot living conditions.
Rahmani, who has participated in a large number of army operations, is now said to be suspended pending investigation. He had recently made comments on Facebook about poor living conditions and inadequate food rations, an issue that has been raised in the past by AAF pilots.
While lawmakers in Parliament have expressed outrage at the treatment of Rahmani and other members of the security forces by their superiors and ministry administrators, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) has assured that Rahmani will not be detained for speaking out.
News of Rahmani's situation came to via a letter sent to TOLOnews by a source on condition of anonymity. Nevertheless, representatives in Parliament have spoken out and echoed much of the letter's underlying concerns about the treatment of members of the Afghan security forces.
"We have seen that in some cases the commanders do not provide legal rights to military personnel and it is unfair; instead of their problems being addressed, they are sent in for questioning," MP Abdul Qayoum Sajadi said on Tuesday. "If the government wants reform, such criticism should be welcome," he added.
Others, such as MP Sakhi Mashwani, openly accused military commanders of covering up abuses against service members' rights. "The commanders do not want to disclose the betrayal of officers rights and so they are threatening the officers with threats to stop them from taking such action in the future," he said.
The AAF is widely considered by leaders and analysts to be one of the crucial puzzle pieces, that if nourished and matured, could be a decisive advantage for the government when it comes to battling insurgency and securing Afghanistan's borders. However, persistent problems related to equipment, funding and training have bedeviled the air force, and if Rahmani's experience is emblematic, then the AAF appears to have a long way to go.
"Officers should be supported, not be rebuked for seeking justice for their rights," said MP Abdul Rahman Rahmani, who is of no relation to pilot Rahmani.
MoD officials have confirmed that the pilot has been brought in for questioning, but tried to assure that he is not being punished. "Our pilot is young and must be advised and be questioned about his problems," MoD spokesman Dawlat Waziri told TOLOnews. "We are not sending him to prison."