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Cablegate: Balkh Provincial Council Chairman Frustrated with Swedish

VZCZCXRO4828
RR RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #2764 2880521
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 140521Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5838
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0302
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 002764

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM
STATE PASS TO AID FOR ASIA/SCAA
STOCKHOLM FOR POL
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 ETRD EFIN AF TI

SUBJECT: BALKH PROVINCIAL COUNCIL CHAIRMAN FRUSTRATED WITH SWEDISH
PRT CONTRIBUTIONS

1. (SBU) Summary: The Balkh Provincial Council chairman recently
voiced his displeasure to Swedish PRT officials about Swedish
development efforts and asked them for visible reconstruction
projects. He repeated a message first uttered by Balkh Governor
Atta that Sweden should pack up and leave PRT Mazar-e Sharif if it
is unwilling to contribute to infrastructure development. Sweden's
plan to boost the level of its development assistance to Afghanistan
by approximately USD 14 million is unlikely to mute the criticism
its PRT is receiving from the Balkh government and the general
public. End Summary.

2. (SBU) During an October 5 meeting with the Swedish PRT commanding
officer and Swedish development and political advisors, Balkh
Provincial Council Chairman Farhad Azimi let loose with a litany of
complaints about the Swedish PRT's development efforts. He
described the relationship between the provincial council and the
PRT as "cold," saying that the only times the PRT commanders visit
the provincial council are when they first arrive in Mazar and when
they pay their farewell calls. Azimi compared the Swedish PRT
unfavorably to other PRTs around the country, citing the lack of
infrastructure reconstruction projects in Balkh and discounting the
impact of Swedish-funded, small scale training programs. He
referred to the letter Governor Atta sent to UNAMA last July in
which Atta asked UNAMA to ask ISAF to replace Sweden with another
lead country for PRT Mazar. Nor did Azimi spare criticism for the
Swedish media, who he claimed never bothered to meet provincial
council members or ordinary people during visits to the PRT and thus
only heard positive accounts of the PRT's work instead of hearing
how Balkh residents view the PRT's contributions.

3. (SBU) Sweden plans to increase its development assistance to
Afghanistan by 100,000,000 Swedish kronars (approximately USD 14.3
million), for a total of roughly 74 Million USD. Currently Sweden
channels about 80 percent of its Afghanistan development assistance
through the central government in Kabul while 20 percent (roughly
USD 12 million) of the total is directed at the four provinces that
the Swedish-led PRT covers (Balkh, Jowzjan, Samangan, and
Sar-e-pol). Even with the funding increase, the amount of
development assistance each of these 4 provinces will receive is
unlikely to satisfy critics within their provincial governments.

4. (SBU) COMMENT: Sweden has been battling the image of a "do
nothing" PRT and not doing a very good job at it. Azimi is echoing
the views of Governor Atta, but those two men are not alone in
expressing frustration with the PRT. The governors of Jowzjan,
Samangan, and Sar-e-pol and religious councils and village elders in
those provinces have also lobbed similar criticisms at the PRT at
different times. Sweden has funded some infrastructure projects,
such as road construction in Samangan and a few bridges in
Sar-e-pol, but has done nothing of that sort in Balkh where
criticism of its efforts is loudest. Sweden's most pressing
development focus should be on building and maintaining relationship
"bridges" to win over outspoken critics like Azimi and Atta.

WOOD

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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