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Cablegate: Sharana Prt Six Month Update

VZCZCXRO9267
RR RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #2129/01 2260738
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130738Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5089
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 002129

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM
NSC FOR WOOD
OSD FOR WILKES
CENTCOM FOR CG CSTC-A, CG CJTF 101 POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON AF
SUBJECT: SHARANA PRT SIX MONTH UPDATE

1. (SBU) Summary: Paktika experienced a difficult spring;
violence was up and the government did not uniformly provide
services. The long term outlook, however, remains positive,
led by economic expansion. Anti-government activities,
particularly indirect attacks and IED events increased.
Several incidents strengthened residents, perceptions of
deteriorating security. Coalition efforts to counter
security problems, including increased kinetic operations and
the roll out of Focused District Development (FDD), remain
too new to be judged. Further, despite Governor Khpalwak's
efforts, provision of government services was uneven and
Paktika's tribes believe the provincial government is weak.
In spite of these setbacks, advances in development and
governance bode well for Paktika's future. Notably two of
Paktika's largest bazaars expanded significantly, new roads
connected Paktika's commercial centers, and the PRT and
taskforces began to focus their assistance through the
Provincial Development Council (PDC), shoring up the
institution's credibility.

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Security
--------

2. (SBU) Several key issues compromised Afghan National
Police (ANP) effectiveness in Paktika, including recruitment
difficulties, fuel shortages and the lack of a coherent
maintenance or replacement plan for police vehicles.
Resulting ANP immobility, particularly in Paktika's western
districts, allowed anti-government elements freedom of
movement, which was connected to the increase in IED attacks
and ambushes. Significant acts of violence doubled compared
to spring 2007. Some of these attacks were more
sophisticated, coordinated and complex than attacks last
year. Several high profile killings strengthened residents'
perception of deteriorating provincial security, including
the murders of a former tribal shura leader and a school
principal.

3. (SBU) Coalition efforts, including increased kinetic
operations and the launch of Focused District Development
(FDD) in Mata Khan and Sar Hawza districts, will take time to
evaluate. Initially, district leaders were cautious about
FDD, especially in Sar Hawza where the District Administrator
complained the relief force of ANCOP officers was reluctant
to patrol more than five kilometers from the district center.
Police Mentor Teams continue to work with the ANP to promote
recruiting efforts and enhance police capabilities. Small
groups protested military operations in Mata Khan and Sharana
districts, meeting with Governor Khpulwak and Provincial
Chief of Police MG Mullah Khel to discuss claims that
innocent people had been arrested or killed. To date,
Paktika provincial leaders continue to mollify these
complainants.

Governance
----------

4. (SBU) Paktika Governor Khpalwak returned from his April
International Visitors' program to the U.S. enamored of
localized planning and ready to push Karzai for additional
support. Despite Khpalwak's efforts, the provincial
government failed to deliver some key services. Khpalwak
remarked on the degree to which planning in the U.S. occurs
locally and sought ways to press Kabul for greater
administrative decentralization. Following his trip, he met
with President Karzai and seven key Ministers, insisting that
Paktika become a staffing and budgeting priority. The
majority of the Ministers rebuffed the request, arguing
provinces such as Paktika with US-led PRTs are not a budget
priority. Meanwhile, the provincial education director did
not pay most teachers for the first few months of the year
and as a result, over a third of the schools in the province
closed.

5. (SBU) Paktika residents' perceptions of government
ineffectiveness have empowered tribal leaders who remain the
most powerful group in the province. Tribal leaders continue
to call for a more active and muscular response to
anti-government infiltrators, but will not motivate popular
opposition, saying they are not confident Kabul will support

KABUL 00002129 002 OF 002


their efforts. Tribes point to the lack of ANP or ANA
patrols and checkpoints as well as the government's inability
to hold arrested insurgents as evidence of government
ineffectiveness. The Paktika Provincial Council is neither
well known nor active in the Province. Further, not all
residents consider it representative as it does not have a
member from the Kharoti tribe, the second largest provincial
sub-tribe.

5. (SBU) The PRT and task forces working in Paktika shifted
to using the PDC to define new projects. Development project
proposals must now pass through district leaders to line
directors and then the PDC for approval; without PDC
approval, the task force and PRT will not begin project
execution. Within the PDC, line directors are required to
secure Kabul approval for all projects requiring additional
staffing or increased operational budgets prior to submission
to the PRT for execution. PDC members were satisfied with
the new procedure as it gives them visibility on and
authority over provincial development activities. It also
forces tribal and district leaders to work through the
council. Even security related projects will be reported to
the PDC, though these will not require PDC approval prior to
their execution.


Development
-----------

6. (SBU) Commerce in Paktika continued to expand at a
vigorous pace. Some merchants recently complained to
National Assembly members that the Sharana bazaar lacks
sufficient shops, even though it more than doubled in size
over the previous two years. Two factors fed growth of the
Sharana and Orgun bazaars: the proximity of Coalition forces
and the development of paved roads linking these cities to
larger commercial centers. Two cell phone providers, Roshan
and AWCC, and at least two satellite TV installers, both of
whom report business is brisk, have set up shop in the
Sharana bazaar.

WOOD

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