KABUL - An ugly brawl erupted in parliament between two female Afghan MPs on Tuesday after a row seemingly about one of the vice-presidents and ending only when shocked colleagues pulled them apart. Ex-army general Nazifa Zaki, dressed in casual black Afghan dress and head scarf, began arguing with fellow MP Hamida Ahmadzai and then threw a water bottle at her in anger, in footage broadcast by private TV station Tolo News.
A stunned Ahmadzai chucked a bottle back towards Zaki, who then launched herself at Ahmadzai, trying to grab her around the neck and delivering a series of punches to her face as lawmakers gathered for the morning session.
Ahmadzai tried to fight back as male MPs rushed in to break up the scrap.
MPs were mostly tight-lipped over the embarrassing incident that took place as British Prime Minister David Cameron visited the capital Kabul and held talks with President Hamid Karzai over peace talks with the Taliban.
One MP, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the pair rowed over the reputation of Vice President Mohammad Qasim Fahim, one of Afghanistan's most powerful warlords and alleged to have been involved in crime and corruption.
Deputy parliamentary secretary Mohammad Farhad Azimi said he was not sure what sparked the fight.
"Today's agenda was to discuss why the government does not heed the decisions made by the MPs. Later, two of our colleagues started quarrelling with each other and disrupted the session. I am not sure why," he said.
About a quarter of the 249 seats in the lower house, or Wolesi Jirga, are reserved for women, who were severely restricted under the 1996-2001 Taliban regime.
They were banned from leaving the house unless wearing a burka and accompanied by a male relative, and stopped from working and attending public schools.
Afghan society is still heavily male-dominated, with men the decision-makers in family life. Many women still wear the burka and forced marriages are common. (AFP)