I’ve been to quite a few meetings since we got to Kunar Province in August, but the one I went to on Nov. 2 was one of the most interesting. It was a shura on security in Narang District, where there’s been a lot of insurgent activity. I went with several other members of the Iowa Agri-Business Development Team.
I was surprised by the turnout. There were over a hundred village elders at the Narang District Center, and they heard a lot of things that made sense to me. The speakers were mostly former and current Afghan officials.
The Narang subgovernor, Haji Gulam Nabi, kicked things off. You could say he has a strong interest in security since he’s already been kidnapped by the Taliban once. Another speaker was a former governor of Kunar Province. He sure didn’t mince words. He basically told the elders they needed to stop acting like women – and the interpreter said he used a lot stronger language than that.
But all the speakers said pretty much the same thing: the Coalition is here to help us if we’ll help ourselves. That’s a true statement.
The Afghan people have to take the lead on security so units like the Provincial Reconstruction Team and ADT can come in and work with a reduced risk of getting shot at. We can do a lot under any conditions, but the better security is, the more we can focus on the things we specialize in, like improving irrigation systems and building demo farms.
Of course, we weren’t really the stars of the show. We were mainly at the shura to show what kind of help the Coalition could give the people of Narang if they could begin to take responsibility for their own security.
But I did get to meet the subgovernor, and it’s always good to meet the leaders where you’re going to be working. And if the village elders at the shura follow through on what they heard, I guess we’ll be working in Narang District a lot more in the future.