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Cablegate: Panjshir Province: Excellent Security, Good Governance And

VZCZCXRO6558
RR RUEHIK RUEHPOD RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #0086/01 0080416
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 080416Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2313
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 4343
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 000086

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO DAS CAMP, SCA/A
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CENTCOM FOR CG CSTC-A, CG CJTF-82 POLAD

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958 N/A
TAGS: MCAP MOPS PREL PGOV PTER PHUM AF
SUBJECT: PANJSHIR PROVINCE: EXCELLENT SECURITY, GOOD GOVERNANCE AND
IMPROVING INFRASTRUCTURE

1. (SBU) Summary: Panjshir has no insurgent threat and generally
good governance, making reconstruction and development projects
possible in the province. With Commander's Emergency Response
Program (CERP) and "Good Performer" money guaranteed to flow for at
least the next fiscal cycle, Panjshir can expect continued
infrastructure development. The province's unique geography,
overwhelmingly rural character, and mono-ethnicity are all factors
in its good performance. End Summary.

Security
-------
2. (SBU) In 2007, there were only a handful of security incidents in
Panjshir, including an attack on a girls' school and an attempted
IED attack. In late summer, a small group of Taliban was caught and
arrested inside the province; they were lured to Panjshir from
Baghlan by a successful National Directorate of Security (NDS) sting
operation. Governor Bahlul gives much of the credit for the
province's security to the locals, who notice any outsiders, whether
by appearance or by accent, and question their reason for being in
the valley. The "Lion's Gate" checkpoint at the narrowest point of
the Panjshir river valley remains the only way in and out for all
vehicles, providing additional control. PRT officials are able to
travel within the province with no body armor and in unarmored
vehicles. Panjshir's Afghan National Police (ANP) contingent was
reduced in 2007, against the wishes of the Governor, but regardless
of ANP numbers, the fundamental factor protecting the province is
likely to remain its "community-watch" posture. The provincial
leadership remains on guard against insurgents disguised as outside
contractors, and the PRT and the provincial security forces screen
contractors who come to Panjshir, typically from Kabul.

3. (SBU) The first PRT rotations in Panjshir (2005-2006) focused on
the issue of landmine- and munition-stockpiles in Panjshir. This
issue has faded in importance for several reasons. After several
months of quietly carting out the landmines in unmarked trucks to
Kabul, the Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD) in late 2007 issued a
written certification that Panjshir was landmine-free. In addition,
the GIRoA announced that the Disarmament, Demobilization and
Reintegration (DDR) program's deadline would be extended for another
four years, removing any sense of urgency. Panjshir maintains
several munition stockpiles inside the valley guarded by the Afghan
National Army (ANA) - the only regular ANA presence in the valley.
Due to the possibility that munitions from these stockpiles could be
bought or stolen and smuggled out of the valley, it would be
preferable that the stockpiles be transferred to MOD central
storage, but the MOD appears to be satisfied with the status quo.
The ANA chief of staff, Bismullah Khan, is a prominent Panjshiri.

4. (SBU) Panjshir remains poppy free and stands to benefit from the
"Good Performance Initiative". There are no poppy farmers in
Panjshiri jails, only drug traffickers, and visits from the PRT
suggest these traffickers endure harsher jail conditions than
murderers.

Governance
----------
5. (SBU) Governor Haji Bahlul Bahij remains the key politician in
the province. He continues to grow in sophistication and
confidence; he appears to act honestly, and his stature in the
province is unchallenged. He makes oft-repeated appeals to
"democracy," which in his view means having popular support for any
undertaking and showing value-for-money in the execution of projects
and the delivery of services. He stays focused on the Panjshir and
does not involve himself in national issues.

6. (SBU) The Provincial Council (PC) in Panjshir has little
authority. The Governor does not turn to the PC for advice, nor
does the PC challenge the Governor. The PC does provide an
interface for the PRT with local communities. The PRT involves
individual PC members in trips throughout the valley; from the
communities' side, the PC members are (unfortunately) seen all too
often as messengers to deliver supplicants' requests to the PRT.

7. (SBU) The district managers of Panjshir's six districts are
variable in quality, as are the Panjshir ministry line directors.
The best are the line directors for economy, education, and public

KABUL 00000086 002 OF 002


health, who display organization and commitment. At the bottom are
the line directors for women's affairs, public works, and
information/culture, who have consistently demonstrated their
incompetence and, in some instances, their venality.

8. (SBU) The ANP chief, General Waliullah, does not enjoy the trust
of the Governor. At the district level, the PRT has very close and
good relations with the district chiefs, and ANP officers regularly
accompany PRT missions. While the ANP's recent reduction in size is
probably not critical to the handling of routine crimes, it could be
significant in denying the ANP the ability to monitor adequately the
province's borders. (Note: although safeguarded by high mountains on
all sides, Panjshir borders provinces with active insurgencies.)

9. (SBU) Official corruption is not a concern in Panjshir, and
Governor Bahlul can appear almost cocky when challenging visitors to
find a single incidence in which Panjshir has been cited for
official corruption. This apparent lack of corruption may have
several reasons. First, there is no poppy crop and no significant
drug trade. Second, Panjshir's close-knit society means that
suspicious financial activity would come to the attention of the
authorities; as long as the Governor is feared as an enforcer,
would-be embezzlers and siphoners have to wonder if the risk is
worth the reward. Finally, Panjshiri officials mostly live in
Panjshir with their families; thus, they do not have the need to
steal money to subsidize family members living elsewhere, especially
family members living abroad.

Development
-----------
10. (U) Panjshir's leaders see infrastructure as the priority. In
spring 2007, USAID completed Panjshir's first paved road, covering
47 kilometers and costing 20 million dollars. CJTF-82 and TF
Cincinnatus have provided more than 10 million dollars to fund two
spurs off the paved road to provide road access to most of the
valley's population. Panjshir will soon have new district center
buildings in all six districts. At the provincial government center
in Bazarak, construction is underway on buildings for ministries
(agriculture, public works, finance) and for the governor and other
organizations (Red Crescent, Afghanistan Bank). Privately-funded
cellphone towers and cellphone coverage have made their way further
and further up the valley.

11. (U) The NGO presence in Panjshir is less than expected in a
province that is free from insurgency. One notable exception is
"Emergency", an Italian NGO that has run Panjshir's only hospital
and some clinics for several years.

12. (U) Power remains a constraint, although the agriculture-based
economy allows the Panjshir to use relatively little electricity,
generated by small hydro-electric generators along the Panjshir
river. Additional power will come from a CERP-funded wind-turbine
project - Afghanistan's first - due to come on-line in the spring of
2008.
WOOD

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