04 Sep 2007

PR# 2007-624

NATO nation legislators see success in Panjshir

PANJSHIR, Afghanistan – A group of parliamentarians from six NATO nations toured the Panjshir Province yesterday on a fact-finding mission to see how economic development leads to security and a self-sustaining Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

An electricity-producing micro-hydro plant and a recently-paved road that are bringing new commercial investment to the province were shown to the eight members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Defense and Security Committee and a U.S. Congressman by the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team.

“The Panjshir example is what we’re working towards in the rest of the country,” said U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill.

The improved road reduces the travel time from Kabul by several hours and means more goods and services flowing to and from the capitol. Now more Panjshiris travel to Kabul for work, and more Afghans from the city come to Panjshir for day vacations.

“Western media need to show more success stories like Panjshir,” said UK Parliamentarian Frank Cook, DSC General Rapporteur. “This is infinitely more encouraging than any other area I’ve been to. Not just the projects, but the attitude of the people and the government.”

Afghan National Security Forces in Panjshir recently captured eight Taliban operatives running from Coalition operations in neighbouring provinces and turned them over to officials in Kabul.

“These are exactly the effects ISAF was working toward in Panjshir,” said PRT Commander U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Chris Luedtke.  “And when influential leaders, like our NATO guests, see this progress, they can push for similar projects to spread this success across the country.”

Another success story shown to the dignitaries was an access road to the top of a mountain ridge behind the governor’s complex. The military-funded road facilitated the building of a local radio station and broadcast tower. Noting the prime tower placement, cell phone and television towers followed along the same mountain-access road.

“Successful projects like these build the foundation for more investment here,” said Luedtke. “Panjshir Province is an Afghan success story. The Afghans are successfully working together with ISAF to maintain security and keep the Taliban and insurgent groups out. This environment makes numerous development projects possible.”

Governor Haji Bahlol stressed the importance of a close alignment of security and reconstruction.

“It comes down to economics,” said Bahlol. “If we have a factory where people can work and make money, that defeats the Taliban.”

The last project the dignitaries saw was Massoud’s Tomb, a privately-funded monument to the celebrated Afghan leader of the Northern Alliance, Ahmed Shah Massoud, being built by the Afghans.

“This progress for Afghans is what Massoud lived and died for,” said Mr. Siddiqi, chairman of the Massoud Foundation. “I hope all of Afghanistan and the entire world looks at Panjshir as an example of how great this country can be.”

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/