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Cablegate: Paktya Province, Afghanistan: Small Step Fighting

VZCZCXRO3084
OO RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHBUL #0208/01 0201559
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 201559Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4873
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 000208

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SRAP, SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM, INR/B
STATE PASS USAID FOR ASIA/SCAA
USFOR-A FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM AF
SUBJECT: PAKTYA PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN: SMALL STEP FIGHTING
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

REF: KABUL 4150

1. (SBU) Summary and comment: Paktya Provincial
Reconstruction Team (PRT) representatives participated in a
December celebration of the International Days on the
Elimination of Violence Against Women in Gardez, Paktya, a
heavily Pushtun province. The event was attended by more
than 60 women and approximately 80 men, and featured more
than a dozen speakers, including the PRT,s DoS
representative. During her presentation, PRT rep linked the
protection of women's rights to President Obama,s call in
his speech of December 1 for bringing peace and stability to
Afghanistan. Paktya Province Deputy Governor Mangal somewhat
surprisingly chose to use his address to call for a stronger
rule of law not only to protect human rights, but more
importantly to fight corruption. He appeared to be
distancing himself from Governor Hamdard, and for good cause
if the allegations of the latter,s involvement with
wide-ranging corruption and support for the insurgency in
Paktya are true (reftel). End summary and comment.

RARE DISPLAY OF GENDER EQUALITY IN PUSHTUN DOMINANT PROVINCE
--------------------------------------------- ---------------

2. (U) Paktya PRT representatives participated in the event
with the Gardez regional office of the Afghanistan
Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). In addition to
Paktya Deputy Governor Mangal and the PRT rep, speakers
included the AIHRC Regional Director, a UNAMA representative,
and several provincial line directors, including the director
for women's affairs. Many of the speakers spoke on the role
of education in preventing violence against women and the
importance of women in Afghan society.

3. (U) For a public event in Paktya, where female
participants are typically seldom seen and speakers usually
include only token female politicians, this was a rare
display of gender equality in a Pashtun dominant province.
Prior to the event, PRTOFFs spoke with women in the audience
who indicated unemployment was a major issue for them, as
many of their family members were continuously looking for
work. One woman said that she had four daughters--the three
oldest of whom were 8, 10, and 13 were already married
because she could not afford to support them. All the women
said their school-aged daughters who were not married
attended school. When asked about whether they voted in the
elections, the women noted that politics was not for them and
they allowed their husbands to vote for them.

WIDESPREAD ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF PRESIDENT OBAMA,S NEW STRATEGY
--------------------------------------------- --------------

4. (U) During her presentation, the PRT,s DoS
representative linked the protection of women's rights to
President Obama,s call in his December 1 speech for bringing
peace and stability to Afghanistan. She focused on the need
to educate both men and women, and the strong link between
respect for human rights and the rule of law. The audience
acknowledged the President's speech and expressed interest in
better understanding his plan for the future of Afghanistan.
(Note: During a separate, subsequent shura in Jaji District
on the Pakistan border, the district governor also referred
to President Obama,s speech--as well as President Karzai,s
inaugural address--within the context of renewed focus on
development at the district level throughout Afghanistan.
End note.)

DEPUTY GOVERNOR LINKS HUMAN RIGHTS TO FIGHTING CORRUPTION
--------------------------------------------- ------------

5. (SBU) Paktya Province Deputy Governor Mangal chose to use
his address to call for a stronger rule of law not only to
protect human rights, but more importantly to fight
corruption. In a veiled reference to allegations of
corruption surrounding Governor Juma Khan Hamdard (reftel),
he underscored the corrosive effects on sub-national
governance of such common practices as nepotism and bribery.
Just switching corrupt senior government officials from
positions of trust in one province to other provinces, he
asserted, would not solve the problem.

COMMENT
-------

6. (SBU) The theme of Mangal's address was somewhat
surprising; he appeared to be distancing himself from
Governor Hamdard, and for good cause if the allegations of

KABUL 00000208 002 OF 002


the latter,s involvement with wide-ranging corruption and
support for the insurgency in Paktya are true. By indirectly
denouncing him in public, and encouraging the participation
of women in the civil society of this Pushtun enclave, the
Deputy Governor is helping us set the conditions for
development outlined in President Karzai,s and Obama,s
recent respective speeches. We will continue our efforts to
expose Governor Hamdard as a significant malign influence
with respect to both corruption and support for the
insurgency, and to pursue development programs that directly
benefit the Pushtun women of Paktya. End comment.
EIKENBERRY

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