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Cablegate: Prt Ghazni: Local Leaders Form Civil Society Shura That

VZCZCXRO9723
RR RUEHIK RUEHPOD RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #1345 1550845
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 030845Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4215
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS KABUL 001345

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, S/CRS, EUR/RPM
NSC FOR WOOD
OSD FOR WILKES
CENTCOM FOR CG CSTC-A, CG CJTF-101 POLAD

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL AF
SUBJECT: PRT GHAZNI: LOCAL LEADERS FORM CIVIL SOCIETY SHURA THAT
COULD HELP PROVINCIAL OFFICIALS - INCLUDING NEW GOVERNOR

1. (SBU) Ghazni city politics are the most vocal and visible
politics in the province. The city's five officially recognized
"shuras" shape public opinion and influence its expression. In
January, a shura encouraged anti-Coalition Forces protests after the
accidental shooting of ten Afghan police officers. This spring, the
shuras discouraged protests over food prices and teacher salaries.
The shuras often represent Ghazni province to the President's Office
and to the National Assembly and will be helpful to new Governor
Mohammad Usman as he begins work in Ghazni. Ghazni's official
shuras represent leaders of the Hazara, Pashtun, Tajik and Sikh
communities. The inter-ethnic "Cultural Association," which includes
many professionals, is the fifth shura.

A NEW AND UNIFIED CIVIL SOCIETY SHURA
-------------------------------------
2. (U) These powerful civil society voices became better organized
and more coherent in late April when their leaders formed a joint
coordinating body - a civil society shura - composed of five members
from each shura. Former Governor Khosti, local businessman and
developer Khalil Khotak, and Mehshrano Jirga Member Maulana Abdur
Rahman all had a hand in the new shura's creation. The shura's main
concerns echo frequently heard complaints: insufficient development
assistance, insecurity in the province's rural areas, administrative
corruption, and a lack of attention to "Islamic principles" in
government. The new shura may have the clout and sense of
responsibility to suggest solutions to these perennial problems.

3. (SBU) The creation of the civil society shura suggests a
maturation of Ghazni's civil society movement. The shura could help
Ghazni's new governor, Dr. Mohammad Usman (a Kandahari) to
understand Ghazni and manage his relationship with local
communities. However, its members may exploit their influence to
receive favorable treatment from the Governor's office. For
example, former Governor Khosti cleared bureaucratic hurdles for an
organizer's real-estate development. Provincial Council (PC) and
shura members both deny designs on each other's bureaucratic turf,
but some tensions are evident. The PC President told PRToff that
Governor Usman should listen to the PC first, and handle his
relations with shuras through the PC, an elected body representing
all of Ghazni. His argument has merit: un-elected and representing
only Ghazni city and its environs, the civil society shura is
important, but not representative of the whole province.

4. (SBU) COMMENT: There is value in the concept of a single body of
manageable size that can speak and act responsibly on behalf of
local interest groups. Governor Usman needs to work with the
Provincial Council as well as the vocal civil society shura, and to
encourage the two bodies to respect each other's roles.
WOOD

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