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'The Taliban are worried about the uprising happening here': an interview with the Panjwai district governor


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property_ownership_i.phpLong War Lournal:

* Bill Ardolino




District Governor Hajji Faizal Mohammad greets US Army officers and an interpreter before a land shura in Panjwai district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Photo by Bill Ardolino for The Long War Journal.


"Property ownership is a human right," argued a grey-bearded Afghan in a black turban, wagging his finger at a roomful of Afghan government officials, US military personnel, and village elders gathered in the Panjwai district headquarters. "It is also a law of Afghanistan. But before that, it is a human right."




The unresolved shura and the confusing lines of authority illustrate some of the challenges for local governance in Panjwai. A recent grassroots uprising against insurgents presents a unique opportunity for ISAF and the Afghan government to strike a blow against the Taliban in a district considered the birthplace of the extremist movement. But the durability of improved security may depend on whether an often fractious network of tribes spread throughout numerous villages can come together and sublimate their discontent into support for the government that opposes the insurgency.





At the center of this bureaucratic maelstrom sits Hajji Faizal Mohammad, whose yearlong tenure as district governor presents a case study in trying to accomplish a lot with very little. Hailing from Mushan village in western Panjwai, the 56-year-old served as a district civil servant for eight years before being appointed governor. Prior to the arrival of US forces in Afghanistan, he held unofficial sway as a land owner and elder of his Ishakzai tribe during the "difficult ... time of the Taliban."


* Bill Ardolino is currently embedded with US soldiers from the 4-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Panjwai, Afghanistan.

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