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GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Fifty-six elders gathered to represent their villages during a shura held in the Dey Yak District Center, Ghazni, Jan. 3.
District government officials, the Provincial Police Chief, and Coalition forces held the shura to provide an opportunity for the elders to explain the problems facing the people of their villages. This also gave them a forum to voice their concerns regarding the security of their areas.
Before beginning the shura, governmental leaders along with members of Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team assigned to Forward Operating Base Ghazni, and the Combined Action Unit from FOB Vulcan, met to discuss current issues.
During this meeting, Provincial Police Chief General Khayalbaz Shirzai stressed the importance of combined action.
“Those who are leaders have to travel to the different villages together,” said Shirzai. “Myself, the sub-governors, and Coalition forces have to go to the (district centers) together so that we can coordinate and hear problems that the ANP and people are having”.
The shura began with opening remarks from the district Director of Education.
“The police are inviting the people of this area and International Security Assistance Forces to get together for unification,” said the director. “They are trying to bring happiness. They do not support or back up the Taliban. If you kill each other here, we won’t be here anymore. We should not kill each other. We are all Muslim, we should respect human kind.”
Haji Fazil Mohammed, the Dey Yak Sub-Governor spoke to the audience to promote cooperation between Afghan National Security Forces and Coalition forces.
“It will take time to rebuild Afghanistan,” said Haji Fazil. “Before, there were good and secure areas. For the last seven years, foreigners have had a hand in rebuilding our country. You can see Coalition forces building district centers, clinics and schools.”
Fazil went on to explain procedures on how to report abuse, bribery or any Taliban action. He also expressed his disapproval of Taliban activities.
“Some Taliban are laying mines in the roads. If we build the roads … why do they do it? They should have reasons to. They’re born in this country and they are destroying it. What’s the benefit? This is not the role of humanity. We have no unity. That is why the PRT can’t build projects. I trust that you are not Taliban. You have to cooperate with us. We can’t have security without the residents’ participation. Without the residents’ participation, we can’t have ANSF support.”
The shura was also an opportunity to get feedback from the villagers regarding how they feel about their Afghan National Policemen who protect them as well as the presence of Coalition forces who are working with the ANP.
“If you come to the government buildings, and report abuse or bribery or any Taliban action, we will call the Operation Coordination Center Provincial and take care of it,” said Haji Fazil.
Lt. Col. Kenneth Primus, Deputy Commander for the PRT thanked the villagers for bringing their issues to the meeting. He explained how the PRT could help them and shared some security problems currently plaguing specific projects.
“Before we can build, there must be security,” said Primus. “There are clinics in Laghawat and Janabad that need to be constructed. We have actually tried to start work in Janabad. But these projects were stopped. They were cancelled because our contractors were attacked. If we go to Janabad, if we go to Laghawat, we are attacked.”
Primus emphasized that the local citizens must take responsibility for the security in their villages before development can proceed.
“We can either fight, or we can build. We are very good at both, but not at the same time. That’s why we’re here today. We want to help improve the security and the relationship that the people have with the police. We would rather build than fight. We are here to help the Afghan people,” said Primus.
The event ended with Haji Fazil praising the police and assuring the elders that not only will the police respond when necessary, but they will be held accountable if there is any misconduct.
“The police do the best they can for setting security,” said Fazil. “If the police do anything wrong then you need to complain. You can speak freely without being afraid. If the police do something wrong, they will be punished according to the rule of law.”
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