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Cablegate: Prt Asadabad: Governance and Development

VZCZCXRO1623
RR RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #1552/01 1760615
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 240615Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4458
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KABUL 001552

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON PGOV PREL PTER AF
SUBJECT: PRT ASADABAD: GOVERNANCE AND DEVELOPMENT
IMPROVING, SECURITY AS GOOD AS CAN BE EXPECTED

1. (SBU) Summary: Governor Wahidi extended good governance
and implemented an aggressive development strategy despite
ongoing insurgent activity in Kunar over the past six months.
Governance is improved; development is increasing; and
security is improving slightly. The threat of improvised
explosives is higher than six months ago. The most intense
fights are still in central Kunar's highlands, upper Watapur
valley, Waygal valley leading into central Nuristan, and east
of the Kunar River.

Demonstrating Good Governance
-----------------------------
2. (SBU) Governor Wahidi is encouraging directors to meet
beneficiaries in the districts rather than in Asadabad. He
reinforced his message "to bring provincial government closer
to the people" by attending security shuras in Chaparara,
Sarkani, Pech-Manogai and Chowkay districts. The Governor
travels independently with a police detail to eight of
Kunar's 14 districts and apologizes to shuras in the other
six when he arrives with Coalition escort, noting that he
looks forward to the day he can travel freely. Kunar's
Provincial Council remains weak, but Wahidi has encouraged
members to travel with him to community engagements to
increase their visibility. The Governor reinvigorated the
provincial government's link to religious leadership by
recruiting Maulwi Obaidullah Bahari, a leading local cleric,
as a regular speaker at government events. Wahidi embraced
the government's creation of a new Chief Executive position
and relies on the Independent Directorate for Local
Governance-appointee as a liaison with the PRT and other
development actors.

3. (SBU) Wahidi takes anti-corruption measures seriously. He
successfully lobbied the Ministry of Finance to have the
Customs Department's provincial representative replaced
because of suspected timber-smuggling facilitation. He
similarly advocated the removal of the Media Director after
discovering embezzlement. Wahidi made public announcements
about the firings to explain his rationale and improve the
government's transparency. He also began an audit of
provincial directors, monthly budgets.

4. (SBU) Popular criticism of Wahidi is low. His biggest
public affairs challenge is his rocky relationship with
provincial Chief of Police Jalal and occasional rivalry with
NDS Chief Jamiullah. Some observers say the apparent
animosity between the three offices undermines Wahidi's case
that the provincial government is stronger. Opponents say
Wahidi is concentrating too much on development in peripheral
areas and failing to deliver services like water and power to
Asadabad. The Governor tasked Asadabad's mayor with a
massive clean-up campaign, and Asadabad now has sidewalks in
front of market stalls, cleaner drainage ditches, and trash
bins. Provincial Administrator and long-time Kunar official
Fazl Akbar says the public considers Wahidi a genuine
anti-corruption czar.

More Roads, More Skilled Craftsmen
----------------------------------
5. (SBU) The PRT's road into the Shuryak Valley infuriates
insurgents, who have tried to destroy it. However, despite
several attacks on machinery and one bomb in the road, the
council of elders advising the PRT continues to support the
project. The Deywagal Valley Road is both the most attacked
and most defended project in Kunar. The contractor has
pushed 11 kilometers into the valley, and residents have
fought alongside locally hired security guards against
insurgents at least five times. Korengal Road construction
stalled in early 2008, but restarted following a series of
negotiations between Safi and Korengali tribesmen. Three
kilometers are nearly complete. Afghan Engineering District
(Army Corps of Engineers) manages the road project, which
stretches from the end of the Pech Valley paved road through
western Kunar to Wama, Nuristan.

6. (U) USAID's provincial flagship program, the Kunar
Construction Center, graduated 140 males to full job
placement. The school expanded to include some students from
Laghman and Nuristan, and the new class matriculated in

KABUL 00001552 002 OF 003


mid-June. The USAID-funded Local Governance and Community
Development program earmarked USD 811,000 for community-based
projects across Kunar over the next six months. USAID will
build a farm-to-market road from Tantil village in the Pech
Valley.

Security: Asymmetric Tactics Increase
-------------------------------------
7. (SBU) Militants are unable to overrun district centers or
challenge ISAF troops effectively. The last U.S. military
fatality in Kunar was January 26. The main roads are clear,
and the bazaars are teeming with business. Attacks do little
to slow the PRT's operational tempo to oversee USD 48 million
in Commander's Emergency Response Program infrastructure
development projects. UNAMA and U.S. military contacts
report that insurgent-initiated incidents of effective fire
are down from last May and June. The trend in enemy activity
is toward asymmetric tactics: insurgents attacked civilian
project workers with increasing frequency since December. In
Ghaziabad, they kidnapped and mutilated several truck drivers
in March and April, reprising a similar attack that occurred
in February 2007. Militants killed a Ghaziabad road worker
in May. The threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is
higher than six months ago. Fighters continued experimenting
with command-wired configurations in the Korengal, and used
one in the Deywagal Valley. IEDs detonated on several Afghan
army and police convoys, mostly on unimproved roads.
Pavement effectively deters IED emplacement. Militants blew
up four new police checkpoints this spring.

8. (SBU) The hottest spots in Kunar are still Sarkani
district east of the Kunar River and the confluence point of
five valleys at Gatigal Sar in central Kunar (accessible from
Korengal, Shuryak, Badel-Narang, Deywagal and Nowabad
valleys). Watapur district grew a small poppy crop this
year, and insurgents still move freely north of that valley's
fork. The Waygal Valley near central Nuristan is unstable,
but a Coalition base is relocating to a more strategic
location there. Western Chapadara district is most
physically distant from government institutions. Insurgents
have intimidated road workers west of the district center,
burning machinery and issuing night letters. Local
populations in these areas are still under significant
insurgent pressure to resist participation in government and
coalition projects. However, communities continue to provide
workers to projects.

9. (SBU) The increased deployment of Afghan National Security
Forces (ANSF) on the east side of the Kunar River south of
Asadabad has made it more difficult for insurgents to move
supplies and fighters into central Kunar. Two Afghan Army
Kandaks (battalions) deployed to Kunar in January. One
focuses east of the Kunar River in Sarkani and Khas Kunar,
and the other is deployed along the Pech Valley and in the
Korengal. Afghan Border Police now have a nearly complete
Kandak south of Asadabad, and the new Kandak for Asmar
district is half-staffed, with half in training. The
increase in ANSF presence east of the river has drastically
improved the amount of patrolling, participation in joint
operations, and enemy interdiction. Coalition Forces have
begun 30-day immersion training for police units in each
district. Chowkay, Narang, and Sarkani police graduated
recently, and Dyncorp mentors reported significant
improvement in their performance. Asmar and Naray police
began immersion training in June. Kunar's remaining
auxiliary police will complete sustainment training to roll
over into regular police before the September 30 deadline.

10. (SBU) Comment: Overall, Kunar's government made great
strides in infrastructure development and responsiveness to
constituents. The usual hotspots continue to pose security
challenges. The shift of ANSF and Coalition Force attention
to the east side of the Kunar River was a huge success and
should continue with troop reinforcements north of Asadabad.
Soft targeting by insurgents is a source of concern, because
an increase in threats to civilian project workers could
create local perception that security is deteriorating. Now
that the PRT is building into contested areas, road projects
may occasionally stall as Kunaris (who desire roads and

KABUL 00001552 003 OF 003


ancillary benefits such as markets, clinics, and schools)
negotiate terms of survival with insurgents who have fewer
places to retreat. We should support this. Paving in fits
and starts is still paving, and longer building seasons mean
more young men are employed continuously. The PRT will
encourage Governor Wahidi to keep doing what he is doing.
WOOD

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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