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Cablegate: Nangarhar Province: Speedbumps Fail to Slow

VZCZCXRO3327
RR RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #1582/01 1771203
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251203Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4493
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 02 KABUL 001582

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: PGOV PREL ECON AF
SUBJECT: NANGARHAR PROVINCE: SPEEDBUMPS FAIL TO SLOW
POSITIVE MOMENTUM

KABUL 00001582 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Recent suicide attacks and insurgent
incursions have failed to dissuade Nangarhar residents from
the belief that their province is secure. Residents
routinely cite economic concerns as the major problem before
security concerns. Nangarharis are concerned about recent
events in Pakistan, but Nangarhar security forces and their
Coalition partners have denied insurgents significant
footholds in the province. Reconstruction continues apace,
with major road and irrigation projects the most visible
signs of progress. Nangarhar is poised for rapid economic
growth if sufficient electricity and integrated
transportation become a reality. Governance remains the most
problematic component of the three-fold assistance effort.

Security: Nangarharis Proud of Their Province's Stability
--------------------------------------------- ------------
2. (SBU) Nangarhar remains the most stable and prosperous
province along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Insurgent
attacks against Afghan border outposts and district centers
since the beginning of the year have almost doubled compared
to the same period last year, but still remain at relatively
low levels. The attacks are normally superficial, and
insurgents are unable to stand toe-to-toe with Nangarhar
security forces. Despite three recent suicide attacks (one
against the Khogyani district governor in April and two
against Coalition convoys), daily life in the province
remains nearly unaffected. Local residents still pride
themselves on the province's relative stability even as they
harbor apprehensions about possible future suicide attacks.
Recent events in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal
Area (FATA) adjacent to Nangarhar, including the
establishment of multiple insurgent outposts and the growing
influence of Mangal Bagh, concern provincial officials and
residents alike. Insurgent infiltration has thus far focused
on the southeast quadrant of the province (in the Shinwari
tribal area adjacent to the Khyber Agency) and the northeast
corner (adjacent to the Mohmand Agency). To date, Afghan and
Coalition forces have successfully reacted to these evolving
threats and denied the insurgents a significant foothold in
the province.

Development: Lots of Roads
--------------------------
3. (U) Reconstruction activities continue apace. Residents
consistently say life is better in Nangarhar now than three
years ago, although rural reconstruction is lagging along the
central transportation/population corridor. Major road
construction is the most visible sign of progress. A
Pakistani-funded project to widen the Torkham-Jalalabad
Highway to four lanes is nearing completion, as is a European
Commission-funded city bypass road. Four PRT-funded hardtop
roads leading from the highway to major district centers are
entering their final construction phases. The PRT recently
broke ground on a project to replace siphons along the
Duranta Canal, Nangarhar's agricultural lifeblood. In the
provincial capital Jalalabad, the installation of traffic
lights at major intersections is injecting a sense of order
to the increasingly congested traffic.

4. (U) Local residents often cite food prices and
unemployment as more pressing threats than insurgents. The
lack of electricity remains the greatest hindrance to
economic development. The provincial government recently
installed approximately one megawatt of diesel generation
capacity in Jalalabad, but it is heavily subsidized for
residential use and has not led to economic growth.
Nangarhar is now at the point where reliable and affordable
electricity and an integrated transportation system --
including additional roads in the province's south, a rail
link to Pakistan, and a regional airport -- will lead to
rapid economic expansion.

Governance: Lags Behind Security and Development
--------------------------------------------- ---
5. (SBU) The Nangarhar provincial government functions fairly
well, but the effort to improve provincial and district-level
governance still lags behind the security and development
efforts. Many jobs are unfilled or occupied by unqualified
individuals. Governor Sherzai continues to exercise strong

KABUL 00001582 002 OF 002


leadership and to support the Coalition, but fails to tackle
serious administrative shortcomings. In particular, he still
has not installed key Kabul-appointed officials, such as a
provincial Chief Executive, and has refused to recognize a
Presidential Directive ordering a halt to the collection of
"reconstruction taxes" at the border. The Provincial Council
is playing an increasingly active and effective role as a
mediator between the government and the people. Provincial
officials remain committed to combating poppy, but worry that
a tangible "reward" for last year's effort has failed to
materialize.
WOOD

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