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Cablegate: Nuristan: New Governor, Fresh Priorities

VZCZCXRO2439
RR RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #1828/01 2030857
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210857Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4758
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
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 SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 001828

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

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL AF
SUBJECT: NURISTAN: NEW GOVERNOR, FRESH PRIORITIES

1. (SBU) Summary: Hazrat Din became Governor of Nuristan on July 5,
replacing Tamim Nuristani. His priorities start with popular
engagement and good governance, and he intends to establish
representative district councils - shuras - for consultations on
whom to nominate as district administrators and ministerial line
directors. He will seek a close relationship with the Independent
Directorate of Local Governance. The Governor views economic
development and infrastructure construction as contingent on
improvements in governance and security. Hazrat Din will involve
the provincial ulema council in governance. As a former commander
in the anti-Soviet war, a former governor, and a Foreign Ministry
official (both overseas and in Kabul), Hazrat Din brings
considerable experience to the position. End Summary.

A New Governor for Nuristan
---------------------------

2. (SBU) The President's office announced on July 5, 2008, that
Hazrat Din would succeed Tamim Nuristani as Governor of Nuristan.
In ten days of consultations, culminating in participation in an
Eastern Region Governors' Conference in Asadabad on July 14, the new
Governor developed the priorities for his tenure. The Governor sees
economic development as contingent upon security and good
governance.

3. (SBU) In discussions July 13 with U.S. civilian and military
officials in Jalalabad, Governor Hazrat Din said his first item of
business was the development of shuras (councils) in each of
Nuristan's eight districts. The primary task of the district shuras
would be to ensure security through popular involvement in
governance. Crucial to the success of the bodies will be the extent
to which they represent the people, said the Governor. He stressed
the need to provide shura members with financial stipends, noting
that a "100-man Shura" in Kamdesh district had never received the
funds that President Karzai had promised in February. (Note: At
the Governors' Conference in Asadabad on July 14, Jelani Popal,
director of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG),
said he would make funds available for Kamdesh "immediately." End
note.)

4. (SBU) The Governor said his second priority is good governance.
He expressed particular concern over the competence of district
administrators and ministerial line directors. He noted that some
lack capacity, and he plans to seek training and equipment for those
people. Others are corrupt, and he will recommend their removal.
He said he will ask the local people, through the shuras, to
nominate replacements. It is also important to construct housing
and offices for staff in Parun, the provincial capital, and in
district centers.

5. (SBU) The Governor's third priority is development. The task is
not "reconstruction," he noted, but new construction. However,
development depends on governance. He told us that even the
communist government had implemented a program of public works in
areas it wanted to reward, and projects alone do not deliver
stability.

Military Operations an Immediate Concern
----------------------------------------

6. (SBU) One of the Governor's most pressing concerns was the
ongoing insurgent incursion in Bargimatal district, which borders
Pakistan. At the Governors' Conference, Nuristani officials as well
as Afghan military and border police requested logistical support
from the U.S. military, which was duly offered.

7. (SBU) The Governor also expressed concern about reports of
civilian casualties in recent actions by Coalition and Afghan forces
in Nuristan. He said he had the names of civilians killed in the
July 4 incident in Waigal district. We noted that the U.S.
military's action had come in response to attacks. In addition, the
July 13 attack on the U.S. positions in Wanat, which killed nine
soldiers and wounded 15, indicated that there was considerable
hostile activity in the area. The Governor undertook to consult
with us closely on such incidents.

IDLG's "Man in Parun?"
----------------------

8. (SBU) IDLG Director Popal made a point at the July 14 Governors'

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Conference of listing three areas in which former Governor Tamim
Nuristani had exhibited bad governance: the excessive amount of
time he spent outside the province; allegations of misuse of public
funds; and a failure to travel enough to the districts of the
province. Popal said the new Governor needed to deal more
effectively with the populace, and he urged the U.S. government, and
especially the PRT, to help him get off to a strong start. Popal
also noted that Hazrat Din had the support of the Nuristani
parliamentary delegation (MPs Dad Mohammad and Hawa Alam Nuristani
and Senator Noorullah Mameed).

9. (SBU) Popal's statements about the former Governor laid down
clear markers for the new Governor. For one thing, Kabul will
assess Hazrat Din's performance on the basis of governance, first
and foremost. For another, IDLG will play an important role in
judging the new Governor. Finally, the governor must get along with
the members of the parliamentary delegation. (Hazrat Din made an
important statement by bringing Dad Mohammad with him to meetings
with U.S. officials in Jalalabad.)

Role of Religious Leaders
-------------------------

10. (SBU) Hazrat Din brought with him to the Jalalabad meetings the
head of Nuristan's ulema council, Ayaullah Khayum. The Governor
also noted that district shuras should coordinate their activities
with the ulema council. It had been a matter of concern to many
secular Nuristanis that former Governor Tamim had tried to work
closely with the mullahs of the province. This seems unlikely to
change.

Biographic Notes on Governor Hazrat Din
---------------------------------------

11. (SBU) Eng. Hazrat Din Noor Jalali, a native of the Titin Valley
in Nuristan's Nurgram District, is 50-60 years old. His father,
Wakil Alef Din, represented Titin in the Laghman Provincial Council
in the 1960s. Hazrat Din's grandfather, Jalal Din, was locally
prominent, and the Governor added the name "Jalali" in his honor.
Hazrat Din studied engineering in Kabul, and he earned a degree in
geology in Baku, Azerbaijan (then in the Soviet Union) during the
Daoud regime (1973-1978). He also earned a degree in international
politics from an on-line university in King of Prussia,
Pennsylvania.

12. (SBU) During the anti-Soviet war, Hazrat Din was a commander in
the Titin Valley under Abdul Rab Rasul Sayaf's Et-ihad Islami. The
government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani named him Governor of
Nuristan in 1992, however, the province was never organized to any
degree. Later, he was District Administrator of Nurgram District
during the governorship of Sher Gul, the first Governor of Nuristan
in the Karzai administration.

13. (SBU) He was Afghan Consul General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from
2002 to 2007. He then came to Kabul to work in the cultural affairs
section of the Afghan Foreign Ministry. During this period, he
became head of the NBCC construction company.

14. (SBU) Hazrat Din speaks English, as well as Russian, Arabic,
Dari, Pashto, and the local Nuristani language.

15. (SBU) Addressed as: Governor Hazrat Din. (This is the
Governor's stated preference. Nuristanis have no family names. If
they require a name for official purposes, most assume the name
"Nuristani" or "Noor," but prefer to use their given names. "Din"
is not a family name, but an honorific that modifies his proper
name.)

WOOD

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