Cablegate: Prt/Bamyan: Government Takes First Steps Towards

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958 N/A

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Bamyan Provincial authorities may be
unelected but they appear to grasp the idea that their
legitimacy derives from the people. The Governor's office
organized and hosted a PRT-funded two-day conference
outlining ongoing development activity in Bamyan.
Participants appreciated the conference and its information,
although they challenged officials' claims of infrastructure
and justice sector improvements. No one disputed the Chief
of Police's unrealistically upbeat assessment of Bamyan's
security environment. The Governor hopes to hold this
conference semi-annually, both to inform the people about
activity in the Province, and to goad lagging public
officials into becoming more responsive. Based on post-
conference activity by local officials, it appears the
Governor will get her wish. END SUMMARY.

Who, When, Where, and Why

2. (SBU) Governor Habiba Sarabi hosted a two-day conference
in Bamyan December 12 and 13, which was funded by the UK's
Department for International Development (DFID) through an
MOU with the PRT. She invited participants from all seven
districts, the Provincial Council, the press, international
and non-governmental organizations, and the PRT to discuss
activities in the Province during the last year. As Sarabi
explained in her opening remarks, "people believe,
incorrectly, that we are doing nothing, that the
international community is doing nothing for the people of
Bamyan. This conference will help dispel that myth."

3. (SBU) Over 200 participants sat through two days of
marathon sessions in an unheated hall at Bamyan University
(the only venue large enough to hold this many people)
discussing progress in eight fields: infrastructure, gender,
education, health, agriculture, refugees/returnees,
security, and law and justice. Department directors from
Rural Reconstruction and Development, Women's Affairs,
Health, Agriculture, and Refugees and Returnees delivered
PowerPoint presentations (prepared with considerable donor
assistance) to the participants explaining: 1)
accomplishments in the last year; 2) what gaps persist in
that sector's efforts; and 3) what the government hopes to
accomplish in the next six months. The Chief of Police, the
Director of the NDS, and the Chief Prosecutor also discussed
their own actions in the last year.

Participants Happy, but not with Infrastructure, Justice
--------------------------------------------- ------------

4. (SBU) Participants expressed general satisfaction with
both the idea of the conference and with the information
received. A Tajik mullah from conservative Khamard District
excitedly told the audience that "we (Tajiks in Saighan and
Khamard Districts) did not belong in Bamyan until today." A
participant from Waras District told us he could use this
information to rebut exaggerated claims by former commanders
and anti-government mullahs in his village. "This will
boost everything we do, even DIAG," he told us.

5. (SBU) Participants did not treat every presenter with
kid gloves, however. Participants outlined a litany of
program needs, and angrily related example after example of
infrastructure projects that had been mismanaged both by the
Government and by donors. "People are tired of false
promises," explained one man from Yakawlang. (COMMENT:
Shura leaders frequently choose to interpret PRT comments
that we will "see what we can do" as the same thing as "we
promise to do." That deliberate misinterpretation
exacerbates people's perceptions of infrastructure
development. END COMMENT)

6. (SBU) Participants likewise had few kind words for the
Chief Prosecutor Azizullah Hadafmand or his office. "How
can people be safe if no one arrested ever goes to jail?
Where is the justice in that?" one man asked. The Chief
Prosecutor's claim that his office is under-staffed and
under-funded rang hollow with the conference participants.
"If you did your job better, you might find your resources
could increase," said the Panjab District sub-Governor. One
Provincial Council member expressed his outrage that one
person had been in custody for over three years, and still
no charge filed against him. "This is against the law and
the conscience of the people," he fumed.

ANP Corruption the Elephant in the Room

7. (SBU) Chief of Police Wahadat's presentation was perhaps
the most striking of the conference. Wahadat painted a
fantastic picture of security and stability in the Province,
claiming no armed groups operate in Bamyan. "If you want to
be safe in Afghanistan, move to Bamyan," he said. He went
further, saying that crime is practically non-existent,
directly contradicting his own words from the previous week.

8. (SBU) Surprisingly, no one was willing to challenge that
image. Even Governor Sarabi, who publicly has confronted
Wahadat, his Deputy Abdul Malik, and some of the sub-
district Chiefs of Police about corruption, chose to ignore
the opening his remarks provided, and instead asked what the
ANP was doing to mop up "pornography" in the bazaar.
(COMMENT: We are unclear to what she may be referring. It
is possible that pornographic materials are sold behind
closed doors, but we believe it more likely that this refers
to the several shops selling Bollywood DVDs. END COMMENT.)

Follow-Up (Mostly) an Encouraging Sign

9. (SBU) Governor Sarabi had two goals in hosting the
development conference: 1) she wanted the Bamyan people to
understand how much activity is going on in the Province;
and 2) she hoped to provoke less-active government offices
into action. It appears to be working, to some degree. The
Communications department has its own PowerPoint
presentation ready, which it will distribute throughout the
districts, and plans to open a satellite office in Panjab.
Agriculture Director Engineer Tahir is considering
conducting his own one day seminar outlining agricultural
activities, because "we are doing more than we can talk
about in a 90 minute presentation." The Pilgrimage
Department plans to make a presentation on Bamyan residents
who travel to Mecca this year.

10. (SBU) Not every office understood the conference's
underlying message, however. The Deputy Governor complained
in subsequent meetings that the Conference "wasted" two
days. "What good is it for people to get together to talk?"
he said. The Education Director complained that he did not
receive a "thank you" letter from the Governor, like others
did. Rather than conducting more program activities, the
Director of the Information and Culture Department wants
someone to create a brochure for his agency so "we will look
better" next time.

Comment: A Promising First Step

11. (SBU) The Governor's two-day conference yielded some
positive results and was a qualified success, and both PRT
and EmbOffs will explore the possibility of funding similar
conferences in the future. The event was the first chance
for most of the participants to learn about activity
Province-wide, an important measure in our effort to win
over hearts and minds. Moreover, through vigorous question
and answer sessions, the conference introduced a nascent
element of accountability into actions by department
directors, who legally are beholden only to Kabul.

12. (SBU) Still, participants and officials' reluctance to
challenge the COP shows how far his shadow continues to
extend, and how much work remains to be done, at least in
the security and justice sectors. So long as ANP and Chief
Prosecutor corruption remains this prevalent, no amount of
public awareness can bolster local trust in the security


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Climate Change: Record Northern Heat, Fuels Concerns Over US Wildfire Destruction

More than 78,000 acres of forest in the Sierra mountains in California has been lost due to wildfires. Photo: San Francisco Fire Department The northern hemisphere experienced its warmest August ever, the World Meteorological Organization ( WMO ... More>>

UN: Guterres Condemns Killing Of Journalists, Following Beheading Of Mexican Crime Reporter

© UNESCO | International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. Following the gruesome death of a Mexican journalist specializing in crime reporting, who was found beheaded on Wednesday, UN chief António Guterres has issued a statement condemning ... More>>

UN: WHO Warns Against Potential Ebola Spread In DR Congo And Beyond

Ebola is spreading in a western province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), raising fears that the disease could reach neighbouring Republic of Congo and even the capital, Kinshasa, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday. ... More>>

WWF: Living Planet Report Reveals Average Two-Thirds Decline In Wildlife Populations Since 1970

According to WWF’s Living Planet Report 2020 released today, global populations* of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish have suffered an average two-thirds decline in less than half a century. The decline is due in large part to the very ... More>>