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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07KABUL536 2007-02-17 12:13:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Kabul
Cable title:  

PRT/KUNDUZ: NEW GOVERNOR DETERMINED TO IMPROVE

Tags:   PGOV PINR AF 
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1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The new Governor of Baghlan Province
Mohammed Alam Ishaqzai arrived from his position as Deputy
Governor in Nangarhar with an excellent reputation. He is
determined to bring more development and greater security to
his new province. Ishaqzai is planning to engage the Pul-e
Khumri PRT, UNAMA, and other international organizations to
assist in the effort to increase development assistance and
improve the lives of locals. He believes better coordination
in the provincial leadership is key to resolving security
issues, but he may find it difficult to control a
newly-appointed and reputedly corrupt Chief of Police. END
SUMMARY.



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President Asked New Governor To Assume Post


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2. (SBU) PRTOff met with newly-appointed Baghlan Provincial
Governor Mohammed Alam Ishaqzai on February 1, the day after
he officially took office. Ishaqzai reported that he was
first asked to become Governor of Farah Province, then of
Paktia, but he declined both times. When President Karzai
himself then called and asked him to serve in Baghlan, he
felt he could not refuse.



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New Governor Focused on Development...


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3. (SBU) The new Governor is a Pashtun from Nangarhar who has
had little previous contact with Baghlan. Ishaqzai told
Poloff that he felt very welcome, however, noting that during
the drive from Kabul to the provincial capital of Pul-e
Khumri the road was lined with thousands of well-wishers,
especially Ismaili people (a Shia ethnic group that is
primarily but not exclusively Hazara, and has a substantial
population in Baghlan). Ishaqzai said he found the residents
of Baghlan to be "well-educated and good people." He
continued that he quickly realized there had not been enough
construction and other development in this central and
"pivotal" province. Ishaqzai noted that the roads (other
than the paved ring road to the capital) were bad, and there
was not nearly enough infrastructure. Expressing
appreciation for the excellent cooperation he had experienced
with the PRT in Nangarhar, he voiced his expectation that the
international community, the PRT and USAID would cooperate in
the same way here in Baghlan to increase development
assistance and improve local quality of life. Ishaqzai also
indicated his intention to travel to Kunduz in the near
future to see UNAMA representatives to discuss how to
increase development activity in Baghlan.



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... Says Provincial Authorities Need to Cooperate Better


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4. (SBU) Although he had only been there briefly, Ishaqzai
commented that he did not believe the people of Baghlan
opposed the government per se; rather, some individuals and
groups were using the general dissatisfaction with the
performance of officials to encourage opposition activities.
The main problem, in his opinion, was the lack of
coordination among provincial authorities: the police, the
line ministries representatives, the national directorate of
security (NDS), and the previous governor did not appear to
cooperate, and thus had not been able to solve issues.
Ishaqzai said his intention was to make sure all the
provincial authorities worked together. With increased
assistance from the international community, he expressed
confidence that they could resolve most of the serious
security issues in this fractious province.



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COMMENT


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5. (SBU) PRTOff previously worked with Ishaqzai in Jalalabad

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where he had served as Deputy Governor and Finance Director
prior to becoming governor. Ishaqzai comes to Baghlan with
an impeccable reputation as an honest official who works hard
for the benefit of ordinary people, and there is little doubt
that he plans to continue this quality of work as Governor of
Baghlan. Unfortunately, PRTOff has heard that new Chief of
Police Abdul Rahman Sayed Khail (previously CoP in Parwan),
who was sworn in the same day as the Governor, is a "very,
very bad guy" who is fully involved in the drug trade and
weapons smuggling. In addition, the development community
has not focused a great deal of attention on Baghlan, and the
Hungarian PRT, as well as the newly-arrived USAID
representative, have limited funds and capabilities to
respond to Ishaqzai's desire to increase development
activities in the province. These circumstances will present
challenges to the new Governor's ambitious development
agenda, but we will work with him to help identify and make
use of opportunities. END COMMENT.
NEUMANN