Afghan war files: Dutch parliament wants answers
The fallout from the 90,000 secret military files on the war in Afghanistan leaked via WikiLeaks.org has already reached the Netherlands. The files have led the Dutch parliament to call on the Netherlands'current caretaker government to answer several questions regarding Dutch involvement in the military conflict in Afghanistan.
The questions - posed by Alexander Pechtold, leader of small opposition party D66 - have the backing of a majority in the lower house. The demand for information is supported by D66, the Labour Party, Socialist Party, free-market Liberal VVD, GreenLeft and the Animal Rights party. MPs want answers as soon as possible and have given ministers a deadline of Wednesday 4 August.
The D66 leader called on outgoing Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen and outgoing Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop to elaborate on the information the government has already provided to the lower house regarding the deployment of Dutch Apache combat helicopters in fighting near Chenartu in 2007.
According to the files released through WikiLeaks, the defence ministry did not disclose the number of civilian deaths that occured during the fighting near Chenartu. Mr Pechtold also wants more information about "an alleged pro-active PR campaign, designed to prevent political damage in the Netherlands and Afghanistan".
Parliament also wants clarification on the activities of US Task Force 373, a military unit assigned to hunt down Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders. MPs want to know whether Dutch military personnel took part in Task Force 737 operations and how Ministers Verhagen and Van Middelkoop view the international legal position of the unit. Parliamentarians also want the ministers to respond to allegations that Pakistan's Secret Service actively supports the Taliban.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide