Reconstruction teams expand work in Afghan provinces

The opening on 2 February of the first Civil-Military Operations Center (CMOC) in Gardayz, the capital of Paktiya Province, marked another step in the shift of emphasis by U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan increasingly to promote reconstruction of the country rather than just security, Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reported on 4 February. The Gardayz CMOC should serve as " a place for NGOs, international institutions, and others to meet, exchange information, and facilitate the rebuilding" of the area, according to IRIN. Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), which include U.S. civilian and military personnel, began work in Gardayz in December (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 30 January 2003). Ben Mixon of the Gardayz CMOC said PRTs have "already completed the reconstruction of 10 schools, three wells, and one health clinic" in and around the city, IRIN reported. U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Robert Finn said new PRTs will start to work in additional provinces each month, adding that the central Bamyan Province is next in line, according to IRIN. Afghan Reconstruction Minister Mohammad Amin Farhag said the PRTs will help his government "focus on larger, long-term reconstruction work," IRIN added. AT

Sher Mangal, a tribal leader from Paktiya Province, said his people want the PRTs to construct schools, clinics, bridges, and irrigation systems, but he added that if their purpose is "more than reconstruction and the center [CMOC] established to deceive people and achieve concealed objectives, we will not tolerate such activities," Hindukosh News Agency reported on 3 February. Mangal did not elaborate on what he meant by "concealed objectives." Wakil Amanullah, a tribal elder, expressed his gratitude for the reconstruction projects under way and said the projects are concentrated in the city of Gardayz, adding that no plans have been presented by the PRTs "regarding reconstruction in other parts of the province," Hindukosh reported. AT


A seminar titled "Federalism in the Future Afghan Political System" was held in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif on 1 February, Radio Free Afghanistan reported on 2 February. Enayatullah Shahrani presented his proposed federal system for Afghanistan at the gathering, the broadcaster added. In response to Shahrani's proposal, a participant and deputy to the Loya Jirga, Mohammad Azam Dadfar, said that without peace, security, and the establishment of a democratic system in which suffrage and free speech are guaranteed to all Afghans, any discussion of a federal system is impossible since the people would have no voice in its selection. The conference established a commission to draft a study on a model of federalism for Afghanistan. The seminar concluded by issuing a report expressing the desire for a federal, democratic parliamentary system or a union in which all central and provincial organs of government are chosen by direct and secret ballot and in which people in the provinces have a right to choose their own leaders. (For more on the issue of federalism and the future Afghan constitution, see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 16 January 2003). AT


A delegation from the Iranian Education and Training Ministry on 3 February signed an agreement in Kabul to cover the expenses of building five and rebuilding another 10 schools in Afghanistan, according to an Afghan Education Ministry press release cited by IRNA and Kabul Television. The Iranian delegation also said Iran is prepared to provide pedagogical training and physical-education training, and it is ready to rebuild the Afghan Education Ministry's publishing house and to launch an educational-television channel. According to IRNA, only 3 million of Afghanistan's 4.5 million primary-school-age children had enrolled in schools by 21 December 2002. BS


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