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Cablegate: Khost Governor Highlights Challenges to Governance And

VZCZCXRO4404
RR RUEHIK RUEHPOD RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #2744/01 2860958
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 120958Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5794
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU 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 002744

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO DAS CAMP, SCA/A
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CENTCOM FOR CG CSTC-A, CG CJTF-82 POLAD

SENSITIVE
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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MCAP MOPS PREL PGOV PTER PHUM AF

SUBJECT: Khost Governor Highlights Challenges to Governance and
Development

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Khost Governor Arsala Jamal cited corruption and
limited human capital as the primary obstacles to good governance in
Khost and Afghanistan. While donor projects positively impact
private investment, lack of electricity hamper investors. Jamal
feared growing Taliban intimidation will lead to low turnout during
the upcoming voter registration drive. Jamal criticized the PTS
program for its lack of direction, but expressed the opinion that
Jalaluddin Haqqani eventually would be reconciled and return to
Afghanistan. Finally, Jamal indicated his tenure as governor is
nearing its end. END SUMMARY.


--------------------------------------------- -------
Corruption and Limited Human Capital Hamper Good Governance
--------------------------------------------- -------

2. (SBU) In a September 26 meeting with USG and COMISAF officials,
Governor Jamal singled out limited human capital as the greatest
hindrance to developing good governance, both in Khost Province and
nationwide. Qualified individuals possessing at least a minimum
level of skills and competence are needed, particularly at the
critical district level. Jamal highlighted his two critical
criteria for district administrators: "one, he is a good guy and
two, he is a fighter," meaning someone who is willing to get out in
the district and follow through to accomplish things.

3. (SBU) Jamal commented positively on the impact of the Independent
Directorate for Local Governance (IDLG), noting that the institution
is improving linkages between Kabul and the provinces, but that it
may be expanding into areas beyond its mandate that might result in
a loss of focus. He also specified the lack of a discretionary
governor's operating budget as an impediment to extending governance
and GIRoA influence into outlying districts.

4. (SBU) Referring to the IDLG draft Sub-national Governance policy,
Jamal offered that creating new, parallel consultative bodies and
shuras (i.e., community councils) could lead to competition where
existing bodies function. For example, the Community Development
Councils within the National Solidarity Program have been successful
in Khost. He also noted the importance of continuing to support and
use traditional forms of governance; e.g., turning to elders for
dispute resolution.

5. (SBU) Jamal said that corruption at the district administrator
level remains problematic; however, he stressed the importance of
Afghan government officials being able to deliver projects and
services (even if in most cases, the actual funding originated with
the PRT). Jamal stated "if people do not come to you, you are not
the government."

---------------------------------------------
Public Projects' Impact on Private Investment
---------------------------------------------

6. (U) Khost has the potential to be another Helmand or Mazer,
according to Jamal. Relative to other Afghan provinces, Khost
enjoys a good climate, a more educated populace, nearby markets and
ties to Pakistan, access to capital from remittances from overseas
Khosties estimated at USD 10-12 million per month, and an
entrepreneurial spirit (which derived in part from the small
land-holdings and high cost of land in Khost, requiring investors to
look beyond traditional land investments). Jamal underscored the
importance of road-building, noting it spurs other construction
projects and increases people's confidence in the government.
However, the greatest hindrance to productive investment is not
publicly-funded projects crowding out private investors, but rather
the lack of reliable and sufficient electricity. Additionally,
Jamal highlighted the dearth of NGOs operating in the province and
expressed support for Coalition efforts to encourage greater
humanitarian and development agency presence throughout Khost.

-----------------------------------
Looking Ahead to Voter Registration
-----------------------------------

7. (SBU) Jamal indicated that "officially" Khost is ready for voter

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registration, but noted that there are problems in some areas of the
province. He said that growing Taliban influence, particularly in
Spera, Sabari, and Tani districts, would likely dampen turnout.
Interestingly, he did not expect the Taliban to resort to overt
force, but rather threats, intimidation, night letters, etc. to
prevent people from registering. Jamal believed people do not
support the Taliban or want them back in power, but since the people
believe the government could not protect them, they would acquiesce
to Taliban demands.

--------------------------------------------- --
PTS Program Lacks Direction; Haqqani to Return?
--------------------------------------------- --

8. (SBU) Jamal criticized the Strengthening Peace (PTS) program for
its lack of an overall strategy to deal with PTS participants.
There exists no social reintegration program or any strategy to use
returnees for public diplomacy purposes to encourage others to take
part in the program. Jamal expressed the opinion that Jalaluddin
Haqqani eventually would be rehabilitated and return to Afghanistan.
Jamal said Haqqani has been seen in the past as a moderate, able to
unite the mujahedeen and enjoying good relations in Kabul
(especially with Burhanuddin Rabbani). Jamal said Haqqani "runs
everything in these three (southeastern) provinces, and if he came
back, these provinces would be like Panjshir in three years."

-------------------------------
End of Jamal's Term as Governor
-------------------------------

9. (SBU) Jamal confirmed that his two-year appointment as governor
was coming to an end and that he had begun making plans to return to
Canada soon. We know of no potential successor at this time; Jamal
has been an effective administrator and his departure could
negatively impact governance in the province.

WOOD

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