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Cablegate: Prt/Sharana: A Look at an Afghan Border District

VZCZCXRO2685
PP RUEHDBU RUEHIK RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #5814/01 3460606
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 120606Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4823
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3391
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 3376
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KABUL 005814

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, S/CR, S/CT, SCA/PAB, EUR/RPM
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE
NSC FOR AHARRIMAN
OSD FOR KIMMETT
CENTCOM FOR CG CFC-A, CG CJTF-76, AND POLAD
RELEASABLE TO NATO/ISAF/AUS/NZ

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV INR AF
SUBJECT: PRT/SHARANA: A LOOK AT AN AFGHAN BORDER DISTRICT

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Barmal, one of Paktika Province's five
districts bordering the tribal areas of Pakistan, has been
the scene of a great deal of insurgent activity since
coalition and Afghan forces established an Afghan government
presence in April 2005. Government influence in Barmal, a
district dominated by the Waziri tribe, has never been
strong. That limited government presence was forced out in
the fall of 2004 by Taliban fighters, who in turn were, at
least partially, displaced by coalition and Afghan forces in
April 2005. Since then the district has been actively
contested. Progress has been substantial in the last 18
months, but the weakness of the Afghan government in this
important border district remains a problem. END SUMMARY.

-------------------------------
Barmal District: West Waziristan
-------------------------------
2. (SBU) Barmal, located on Paktika's Eastern border with
Pakistan, is remote from Afghan population centers. Lines of
communication and trade do not naturally run to the West and
North toward the more urban areas of Afghanistan. Rather,
the natural flow of people and goods goes East into
Pakistan's tribal areas and the towns of Wana and Miram Shah.
These natural geographical ties, common to many border
districts, are strengthened in Barmal by strong Waziri tribal
connections in North and South Waziristan. Most Waziris live
in Pakistan with only a small element of the tribe residing
in Afghanistan--almost all in Barmal district-- where they
make up nearly 100 percent of the local population. As a
minority in Afghanistan, Waziris have a natural connection to
tribal counterparts in Pakistan.

-------------------------------
Much Progress, Much More Needed
-------------------------------
3. (SBU) Barmal district was taken by insurgents in the
fall of 2004, killing or displacing the few Afghan government
police and administrators in the district center. In April
2005, the district center town of Barmal Bazaar was
reoccupied by coalition and Afghan military units, a forward
operating base was established, and a new District
Commissioner and Chief of Police were installed. Afghan
National Army (ANA) and U.S. troops now have a significant
presence in Barmal. The ANA in Barmal are being mentored by
an American military Embedded Training Team (ETT) and close
cooperation is evident between the ANA and American units
located in the district. The American presence has also
brought several projects, at least two new schools, a new
district center building, a new police station, a new primary
care clinic, and a cobblestone road complete with solar
street lights for the Bazaar. However much remains to be
done.

---------------------
GOA Has Limited Reach
---------------------
4. (SBU) While there is an Afghan government presence in
Barmal, its effect on the general population is minimal.
Regular travelers and insurgents alike still move through the
many mountain passes extending into Pakistan. Afghan
government presence in the district center has had little
effect on the insurgents' movement or their influence on the
local population. Lack of economic opportunity in Barmal,
and in Afghanistan in general, drive many from Barmal's
villages to take the difficult six-hour ride to Miram Shah to
seek employment in Pakistan. How many fall prey to insurgent
recruiters is unknown, but locals have been identified among
those killed during encounters with the ANA and coalition
elements in Barmal.

5. (SBU) In interviews conducted on November 1 in the
village of Mangretay (12 kilometers from the Pakistan
border), village elders stated that the people were not
against the Karzai government, but rather they did not know
the government. One elder remarked that for 50 or 60 years,
as far back as anyone could remember, there had been no

KABUL 00005814 002 OF 003


Afghan government presence in Barmal. The village elders
asked for more Afghan police and ANA to protect them from the
Taliban. They reported that if they did not provide food or
shelter to the insurgents, they were in danger. Six days
later on November 7, coalition elements were attacked by a
sizable group of insurgents in this same village.

----------------------------------------
Able District Officials Conduct Outreach
----------------------------------------
6. (SBU) Barmal is fortunate to have a young, experienced,
and intelligent district commissioner. District commissioner
Mohammed Mobeen, seven months on the job and 35 years old,
has already been the chief of police in Orgun, and the
district commissioner of both the Zeruk and Khair Khot
districts of Paktika. Mobeen, assisted by three other
government representatives, the chief of police, an education
ministry representative, and the director of documents and
regulations, is working to bridge the perceived gulf between
the appointed government outsiders and the local tribal and
religious leaders. Mobeen explained that he spends half of
each day working as district commissioner and the other half
in the Mosque explaining Islam to the people. In this way he
demonstrates his commitment to Islam and that he is not a
slave to outsiders.

7. (SBU) Mobeen's main criticism is not about the people in
his district or the insurgents but about the government.
Mobeen stated that the provincial and national governments
need to check on their people in the districts. The
Provincial government, the governor, the chief of police, the
line ministry directors all need to travel to the districts
and check on their people. He said they needed to check and
see if they are honest and if they need assistance. He went
so far as to say that "Karzai is sleeping," that he must hold
the governors accountable for the performance of the
government and its relationship to the people in the
districts.

--------------------------
Police Lack Basic Supplies
--------------------------
8. (SBU) Barmal is far from the Provincial capital of
Sharana, and Sharana is far from Kabul. Barmal's police
suffer from this distance. They also suffer from systemic
inefficiency, neglect, and very likely corruption. Supplies
simply do not get to Barmal from Sharana. While the police
have a new five-room building, they have no winter clothing,
little ammunition, and they lack bedding, boots, and fuel for
the two pickup trucks that serve the entire district. The
nine ANP assigned to Barmal are supplemented with 21 contract
police paid for by the governor. These contract police lack
even the summer uniforms common to the ANP. With only one
Thuraya phone for communication, 25 AK 47s, 1000 rounds of
7.62x39, AK47 ammunition and only 1 RPG, the police are
clearly not prepared for any concerted assault on the
district. Lacking boots, coats, winter uniforms, and fuel,
the police are not even prepared for the Afghan winter.


-------
COMMENT
-------
9. (SBU) Barmal District faces many of the same problems
as other districts in Paktika. Remoteness from the center is
a problem but it is made worse by the nearly wholesale
failure of the police and other provincial government
agencies to provide for their people in the field. In
Sarobi, Dila, Jani Khel, Yosef Khel, Shaklabad, and Yaya Khel
districts like Barmal, the police lack uniforms, winter
equipment, vehicles, ammunition, and fuel for the vehicles.
The insurgency is clearly a problem but severe inefficiency
and lack of even basic leadership and discipline among many
of Paktika's provincial and district government leaders and
directors are severely hampering the ability of the Karzai
government to fight the insurgency and to win the hearts and

KABUL 00005814 003 OF 003


minds of the Afghan people by offering a positive
alternative. END COMMENT.
NEUMANN

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