Why are provincial governors needed in Pakistan?

Again and again Pakistan

"We have troops stationed everywhere on the Pakistani side of the border. The insurgents cannot move around freely here. Wherever they raise their heads, we will track them down, surround them and kill them."

At the headquarters of the Pakistani army in Rawalpindi, a few hundred kilometers as the crow flies from the border with Afghanistan, people are tired of accusations that Pakistan is granting the Taliban a "safe haven". Army spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan plays the ball back to Kabul.

"The problem is more on the other side, in Afghanistan. It is a huge country. The ISAF troops on the border are around 15,000 men."

The Afghan army is still in its infancy, it is small and not very well organized. The insurgents have a lot of freedom of movement there, and it is quite possible that they will continue to maintain their bases there.

On the Afghan side, Shaukat Sultan's colleague Robert Rockwell is standing in front of a general staff map. The intelligence officer is part of the Currahee Task Force, an association made up of tank scouts, mountain troops and infantrymen, which is supposed to control the border region as part of the ISAF international protection force.

"OK, I'm not saying that the Pakistani statements are fundamentally wrong. They have often tried to exhaust their possibilities and work as well as they can. But the problem is the tribal areas. The tribes have an extraordinarily high degree of autonomy, in practice they can they do what they want. The only things the Pakistani government really controls over there are the highways and some junctions. What goes on in the cities is a matter for the tribes. There is not even any control by the Pakistani government there intended."

Not far from Robert Rockwell's headquarters, in Camp Salerno, the ISAF base around 50 kilometers from Pakistan, the commanders of the US troops stationed there, the Afghan army and the governors of the Afghan border provinces have gathered. A State Department official is also present. It's about taking stock: How is the structure and security at the border in the year seven after the ISAF was stationed?
In front of the high-caliber auditorium, the Afghan provincial chiefs appointed by President Karzai affirm how well things are currently in their respective areas of responsibility. And everything is getting better every day, says the governor of Ghazni.

"The people accept the government and work on our concepts in a peaceful and non-violent way. Our legal system is solid and is constantly making further progress."

Behind the scenes, the governors do not hide their disappointment at the slow development and poor security conditions. Nor do they hide who they blame for it. The Pakistani army's claim that the situation at the border is fully under control, irritates Abdallah Wardak, the governor of the province of Logar, to the point of incandescence.

"They are liars. Even their religious scholars are not real religious scholars. Some of them are generals in the Pakistani army. There is no doubt that the insurgents from Pakistan are coming to us across the border. Pakistan has its own strategy. It doesn't want a liberated one Having Afghanistan with good government as its neighbor. The Pakistanis want us to stay busy with our problems. If we have our own schools, engineers and doctors, if we can help ourselves, then Pakistan can no longer do business with us. "

The Afghan border town of Khost, on the edge of which is the US base of Camp Salerno, is considered a Taliban stronghold. A friendly place characterized by fields, meadows and small markets in the shadow of the surrounding mountains. Nothing reminds us that Osama bin Laden had his local headquarters here in the late 1990s. In 1998, in Khost, the al Qaeda leader announced the establishment of an 'International Front for the Fight against the Jews and the Crusaders'.

Today the new Taliban maintain a well-organized network here. American-looking foreigners, says Mohammed Khan, head of the local radio station in Khost, should not stay longer than five minutes in one place if they are already in the city. And being seen with a western foreigner is just as dangerous for an Afghan. That is why he prefers to drive his guest through the city in his car. He does not believe that ISAF is here for humanitarian reasons.

"In reality there is a political agenda. Whenever troops occupy countries that do not belong to them, they give the action a different name. Afghanistan is a geostrategic target that interests the whole world. The US is already in power over many countries. Of course they also want to bring this important region under control. "

Mohammed Khan believes that if the Taliban had an influx of people around here, it would be because the ISAF troops disregard the civilian population from the perspective of the people here.

First your own interests. First the security of the foreign military. Then the interests of civilian ISAF personnel. And then, by a large margin, the interests of the Afghans. That is the accusation that one hears again and again in the Afghan east. Even the construction workers who are continuing to expand the Camp Salerno base for the US Army - actually a much sought-after job - feel disregarded by their breadwinners.

"We earn little money. People from all sorts of countries work for KBR in this camp. But the others get a higher wage than us Afghans. We work better than them. Indians and Bosnians, for example, they get more money than we do." get $ 5,000 a month. That's a problem.

A particularly important group of employees are the local army interpreters - the eyes and ears of the ISAF, so to speak. They are not employed by the US Army in the East Regional Command, but by the security company Aegis, officially as independent advisors. One of them, a young interpreter named Khan, reports that Aegis has just cut salaries from $ 900 a month to $ 700 a month without giving any reason. Anyone who complains will be fired. But that, says Khan, is not the worst. Worse, Aegis only transfers the money to a bank in Kabul and you have to go to the capital once a month.

"Everyone who works for the government has a lot of difficulties outside of the grassroots, like us interpreters. If I want to go to Kabul ... well, they stop us and get us out of the car. They check us and ask if we work for the army, for example.

"They," says Khan, they are the Taliban. And whoever they suspected of being a collaborator, they killed right on the roadside. Six of his colleagues died within three months while driving to Kabul. Again and again the interpreters would come to the US Army with the request to reserve seats for them on the daily military flights to Kabul. And that is rejected again and again - on the grounds that the Afghans are not military. So they only have the overland route. If the ISAF fails to win the hearts and minds of its own employees, the question arises, how does it intend to get the rest of the population on their side?