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Cablegate: Baghlan Governorship Latest Victim of November

VZCZCXRO1981
OO RUEHIK RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #0131/01 0150240
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 150240Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2403
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 000131

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, S/CRS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CG CJTF-82, POLAD, JICCENT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID KDEM PGOV PINR AF
SUBJECT: BAGHLAN GOVERNORSHIP LATEST VICTIM OF NOVEMBER
BOMBING, PAKTYA GOVERNOR ANNOUNCED, MORE PLANNED

REF: A. 07 KABUL 4153
B. 07 KABUL 4134

Summary
-------

1. (SBU) The government announced on January 9 the removal of
Baghlan governor Mohammad Alam Ishaqzai, who had been
suspended pending the results of the investigation into the
November 6 Baghlan bombing, and his replacement with
new-comer Abdul Jabar Haqbin. The government also confirmed
publicly the appointment of Juma Khan Hamdard as governor of
Paktya. The Independent Directorate for Local Governace
(IDLG) is also planning a new appointment in Farah, and
continues recruiting candidates for Helmand.

New Baghlan Governor, Fallout from Bombing Continues
--------------------------------------------- -------

2. (SBU) The government announced on January 9 the
appointment of a new governor for Baghlan province, Abdul
Jabar Haqbin, to replace Mohammad Alam Ishakzai, who was
suspended following the November 6 Baghlan bombing and
remains under investigation (ref A). Haqbin is a Tajik from
Nahrin District, Baghlan province. He graduated from the
Economics Faculty of Kabul University and lived abroad under
the Taliban. Upon his return, he was the head of a bank in
northeastern Afghanistan. He then served for one year as
head of the finance department in Baghlan province, then in
the same job in Kunduz province. He is reportedly a member
of Minister of Finance Ahady's Afghan Millat Party, of which
Local Governance director Popal is the deputy.

3. (SBU) Independent Directorate for Local Governance deputy
Barna Karimi told POLoff that President Karzai reluctantly
replaced Ishaqzai in the face of continuing Parliamentary
scrutiny of the Baghlan bombing. The IDLG presented Karzai
with four candidates and Karzai chose Haqbin, a promising
technocrat. Ishaqzai told POLoff following his dismissal
that he remained under investigation and hoped to receive
another government job once cleared by the investigation.

Controversial Appointee Hamdard Confirmed in Paktya
--------------------------------------------- ------

4. (SBU) The government also publically confirmed private
reports of the appointment of Juma Khan Hamdard as governor
of Paktya province, replacing Rahmatullah Rahmat (ref B). A
Pashtun from Balkh province, Hamdard was a top Hezb-i Islami
Gulbuddin (HiG) commander in the north who acted as the
intermediary between Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Uzbek commander
Abdul Rashid Dostum when the two were allied against the
Soviets and later against the Taliban. Dostum appointed
Hamdard commander of the 8th Corps upon Hamdard's return to
Balkh after the fall of the Taliban. Hamdard cooperated with
President Karzai on disarmament and was subsequently
appointed governor of Baghlan, but he was expelled following
Tajik protests of his attempts to distribute land to Pashtuns
from other provinces. Karzai then appointed him governor of
Jowzjan, where he followed Karzai's direction in
marginalizing Dostum in his home province, again leading to
his expulsion by Junbesh Party members loyal to Dostum.

5. (SBU) Hamdard is controversial among non-Pashtuns in the
north. His candidacy for his third governorship was
reportedly supported by other former HiG members in the
Karzai administration, notably Minister of Parliamentary
Affairs and Senior Advisor Farook Wardak. He has less
support from other presidential advisors, one of whom
asserted the appointment to Paktya was a step to Hamdard's
marginalization. In addition to his governorship, Hamdard is
one of President Karzai's seven advisors on tribal issues, a
role he shares with Helmand governor Wafa. Regardless of how
long he remains governor of Paktya, he will to continue to
enjoy a position close to the Palace.

More Changes Anticipated In Farah and Helmand

KABUL 00000131 002 OF 002


---------------------------------------------

6. (SBU) IDLG deputy Karimi told POLoff that the IDLG also
plans to replace Farah governor Mawlawi Mohideen Balouch in
the next month. IDLG director Jelani Popal is courting two
candidates to replace Helmand governor Asadullah Wafa, but
Karimi said they both are demanding promises of considerable
rewards if successful in the difficult post, such as a
ministerial appointment, and President Karzai is reluctant to
agree.

WOOD

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