Afghanistan: Laghman government, shura leaders seek security, reconstruction

Release # 2007-392

FORWARD OPERATING BASE MEHTAR LAM, Afghanistan (May 22) - The governor of Laghman province and other provincial leaders attended a shura May 7 in a Najil public park to discuss security in the surrounding villages.

Gov. Gulab Mangal attended the shura scheduled to discuss security and its importance to regional reconstruction efforts.

The governor reminded the audience they elected their leadership and told them they should get involved in local government.

"You selected the shura for your province and they will do what you want," Mangal said. "It's your responsibility to provide security because without it, there will be no more projects."

The final two speakers were the military leaders who scheduled the shura.

Two members of the PRT, who scheduled the shura, also requested help from provincial leaders in attendance.

"Your government wants to provide for you and it needs your help," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alberto Gonzalez, commander of 1st Battalion, 158th Infantry Regiment. He asked the audience to join the Afghan National Security Forces and said that serving one's government is honorable.

"What is not honorable are IEDs (improvised explosive devices)," Gonzalez said. "IEDs are weapons of cowards. They are for men who are afraid to confront your army face to face. These cowardly acts tell us we are winning the fight and these weapons are killing your countrymen, innocent women and children."

Dawlet Shaw, a shura leader from Majididi, highlighted his district's five-year developmental plan for Laghman province, which includes many improvements like drainage ditches and schools.

Shaw highlighted the road repair project that will connect villagers to Mehtar Lam. He also brought up the two micro-hydro projects that recently opened in Nulu and Jamshirasbad. He told the audience more than 1,000 people now have electricity in their homes.

All of these improvements require security, he noted. "With security your kids can go to school; and without security, there is no school," Shaw said.

Amineullah, Kalinajil spokesman, invited Afghans to join together. "Join together and be a unit," Amineullah said. Some people use Islam the wrong way. Islam is a development and improvement religion.

He echoed the need for security in the area. He said enemies of the people and their progress came and blasted a local construction company's compressors away. He said he spoke to elders after the incident, and they agreed to provide security.

"We will fight against the terrorists and take care of the coalition and the PRT," Amineullah said.

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