Cablegate: Ahmed Wali Karzai and Governor Weesa On Governance

DE RUEHBUL #3068/01 2760446
O 030446Z OCT 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 003068



E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/27/2019

Classified By: Interagency Provincial Affairs Deputy Coordinator Hoyt Y
ee for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) Summary: in a lengthy and cordial introductory meeting
with Kandahar Provincial Council Chief Ahmed Wali Karzai
(AWK) and Governor Tooryalai Weesa, Senior Civilian
Representative (SCR) for the South Frank Ruggiero underscored
the need for improved governance in Kandahar, and highlighted
the importance of naming credible provincial governors and
district officials before the inauguration to send a positive
signal on good governance to the Afghan people and the
international community. Both AWK and Weesa acknowledged the
weakness of the government in Kandahar, and outlined their
proposals for local solutions, including the empowerment of
shuras of district elders for local dispute resolution rather
than the courts. AWK also emphasized large-scale
infrastructure projects rather than smaller cash-for-work
program, and his desire to see private security companies in
the province under one licensee. AWK discounted the role of
elections and their importance to Afghans. End Summary.

AWK Nervous but Eager to Share Views

2. (C) SCR Ruggiero met with AWK and Governor Weesa on
September 28 in the Governor's Palace in Kandahar City. The
Representative of Canada in Kandahar (RoCK) Ben Rowswell also
attended the meeting, which was held in a wood-paneled room,
beneath a large photo of President Hamid Karzai. (Note:
While we must deal with AWK as the head of the Provincial
Council, he is widely understood to be corrupt and a
narcotics trafficker. End Note) AWK, dressed in a crisp
white shalwar kameez and pinstriped vest, appeared nervous,
though eager to express his views on the international
presence in Kandahar.

The Importance of Good Governance

3. (C) SCR emphasized the criticality of good governance in
the province, and said the United States would like to see
improvement in the post-election period. He said the United
States is ready to work with the GIRoA to strengthen key
provincial and district level governance, but we are only
willing to expend our resources in people and programs if we
have confidence those resources will pay off and make a real

4. (C) Both AWK and Weesa acknowledged there was a
credibility gap between the public and the government. Weesa
said it was a problem that in the 10 months he had been in
office, the government had not been able to deliver 24-hour
electricity to the people, and that 150 factories had closed
because of it. He said people looked to NGOs more than to
the government to deliver services, and he complained that
NGOs poach workers from the government by offering higher
wages. SCR emphasized the importance of naming credible
provincial governors and district officials before the
inauguration to send a positive signal on good governance to
the Afghan people and the international community.

5. (C) AWK suggested one way of fighting corruption in the
province would be to re-establish and empower district
shuras, instead of judges or police, to settle local
disputes. Currently there is only one judge for the five
districts around Kandahar City, he said, and a council of
local elders would be more effective at resolving land, water
and other disputes. (Note: there are a total of seven judges
for all 17 districts in the province.) "You can easily bribe
the chief of police or a judge,8 he said, &but you can't
bribe 50 elders." He said the provincial council, with the
support of the governor, could initiate the formation of
these district shuras, which would consist of 10-15 elders
elected by the people.

Infrastructure Priorities, Private Security Contractors and
Conflicts of Interest
--------------------------------------------- -----------------

6. (C) AWK said he had been in Kandahar almost continuously
since 1992, and that the U.S. reputation in the province was
built on the back of two key infrastructure projects done in
the 1950s and 60s. He said what would make a difference to
the population today would be similar large-scale,
labor-intensive projects that would provide jobs to the
people and keep them from being recruited by the Taliban.
AWK cautioned against the use of small scale projects and

KABUL 00003068 002 OF 002

additional cash-for-work programs; he stated that the use of
implementing partners does not allow expenditure of
development resources to reach villagers and other local
Afghans. Both he and Weesa added that it should be the local
elders who are empowered to distribute these jobs, not
officials or companies from outside.

Putting Private Security Under the Direction of the
Provincial Council
--------------------------------------------- --

7. (C) In the same vein of providing "local solutions to
local problems," as he put it, AWK recommended a "local
solution" to the problem of providing security in the area.
He said that currently, there are many jihadi commanders with
militias who independently provide protection to convoys and
projects, but that a proposal before the Ministry of Interior
would bring all these commanders under one umbrella in
Kandahar, with one person given the license for the private
security sector. He said there would be a meeting Wednesday
(September 30) of all the security companies, under the
auspices of the Provincial Council, to appoint this
representative to send to Kabul. (Note: AWK is understood to
have a stake in private security contracting, and has
aggressively lobbied the Canadians to have his security
services retained for the Dahla Dam refurbishment. Both he
and the governor have tried to exert control over how
contracts are awarded in the province ) all of which could
be a significant conflict of interest in the province. End

Elections: What's the Point?

8. (C) In answer to a question from the RoCK and the SCR
about the credibility of the elections, AWK said democracy
was new for Afghanistan, and that people in the region did
not understand the point of having one election, let alone
two. "The people do not like change," he said. "They think,
the President is alive, and everything is fine. Why have an


9. (C) The meeting with AWK highlights one of our major
challenges in Afghanistan: how to fight corruption and
connect the people to their government, when the key
government officials are themselves corrupt. Given AWK's
reputation for shady dealings, his recommendations for large,
costly infrastructure projects should be viewed with a
healthy dose of skepticism. Still, his observations about
the unintended consequences of how NGOs and other
international partners do their work, e.g. "poaching" of
government staff, track with some of our own concerns,
including about how to promote Afghan-led solutions. We will
continue to urge AWK to improve his own credibility gap as
well as that of the GIRoA.

© Scoop Media

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