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Cablegate: Prt:Panjshir: Massoud Commemoration Draws Peaceful

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBUL #4114/01 2561325
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 131325Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2431
INFO RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS KABUL 004114

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR AF
SUBJECT: PRT:PANJSHIR: MASSOUD COMMEMORATION DRAWS PEACEFUL
CROWD

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Summary
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1. (SBU) The ceremony for slain mujahideen commander Ahmed
Shah Massoud, held September 10 in Panjshir, attracted some
five thousand people and went off peacefully. U.S.
participants included Ambassador Neumann and CJTF-76
Commanding General, Major General Freakley. The event had
many dimensions: Massoud commemoration, Panjshir pilgrimage,
national reflection and mujahideen reunion. It also had
positive side-effects. It strengthened provincial capacity,
especially in terms of planning and security; highlighted the
importance of the reconstructed road; led to reconciliation
between Governor Bahlul and NDS Director Saleh; and bolstered
Panjshir-Kabul governmental ties. End Summary.

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Large Crowds and Special Guests
-------------------------------

2. (SBU) September 9 marked the fifth anniversary of the
assassination of Ahmed Shah Massoud. Thousands gathered
September 10 in Panjshir, next to his tomb and not far from
his home. According to the Governor, the crowd totaled
around five thousand people, &for Panjshir the largest
gathering in memory.8 The majority of them were former
mujahideen from inside the valley; but many Afghans from
other provinces also attended. Our contacts report that two
factors helped draw the big crowd: the importance of
&martyred8 Massoud and the prospect of a free lunch.

3. (SBU) Visitors from Kabul included those with Panjshiri
roots such as First VP Massoud, Ambassador to Great Britain
Ahmed Wali Massoud, Senators Fahim Khan and Mohammed Arif
Sarwari, NDS Director Saleh and Army Chief of Staff Bismallah
Khan. GOA ministers and parliamentarians also attended.
U.S. visitors included Ambassador Neumann, MG Freakley
(CJTF-76), acting USAID mission director Carl Abdou Rahmaan
and COL Schlatter (Task Force Tiger, CJTF-76). The Senior
Civilian Representative, Ambassador Everts, represented
NATO/ISAF. The Governor told us that Embassy representatives
were present from Iran, Russia and Tajikistan as well.
----------------------------------
Themes and Special Nod to the U.S.
----------------------------------

4. (SBU) In addition to the usual speeches, the official
program provided for chanted tributes to Massoud, often
punctuated with shouts of approval from former comrades in
the audience. Governor Bahlul, head of the planning
committee, led off with words of welcome before turning --
&a deliberate political decision,8 he told us ) to the
U.S. Ambassador. In his remarks, the Ambassador cited the
USAID-funded road construction in Panjshir as a symbol of
opportunity, connection to the outside world, and fulfillment
of a pledge made at last year,s anniversary. He also called
on Afghans to overcome their internal divisions in order to
deal better with the challenges facing the country. VP
Massoud echoed this last theme, emphasizing the importance of
all Afghans pulling together in developing their democracy.
In his speech, SCR Everts said Afghans should continue the
Massoud legacy of seeking a peaceful, democratic, prosperous
Afghanistan.

---------------------
PRT Support for Event
---------------------

5. (SBU) The PRT had worked closely with provincial
officials to help plan the event, which, in terms of
magnitude, has a unique place in the Panjshir calendar. The
PRT coordinated on security arrangements, transportation
modalities, invitation issuance and program elements. After
the event, the Governor dropped by to express his gratitude
for the teamwork ) as well as to inform us of his decision
to attend a 9/11 commemoration at Bagram hosted by MGEN
Freakley. He said his attendance in Bagram was
&symbolically fitting,8 given the Afghan and American
experience in September 2001.

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Comment
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6. (SBU) The event was well organized, apart from the
traffic jam at its conclusion. It had many dimensions:
Massoud commemoration, Panjshir pilgrimage, national
reflection and mujahideen reunion. It also had various

positive
spinoffs. For example, it strengthened provincial
administrative capacity through the intense planning in the
run-up. It helped integrate into the provincial security
team the new Chief of Police, who had been somewhat of an
outsider since his arrival this spring. It brought back
former Foreign Minister Abdullah, who has been absent from
his Panjshiri estate for months but returned to host the
September 10 lunch. It highlighted the importance of the
reconstructed main road, used by thousands traveling up and
down the valley on September 10. It led to a personal
reconciliation of Governor Bahlul and NDS Director Saleh, two
Panjshiris who have been feuding lately but agreed at the
ceremony to let bygones be bygones. Finally, it bolstered
the Panjshir-Kabul connection, one of the weak points in
terms of good governance, through the Kabul police
reinforcements and the many GOA visitors.
NEUMANN

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