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Governors' Conference Brings Together Three Provinces

American Forces Press Service

GARDEZ, Afghanistan, Sept. 10, 2005 – Governors from Khowst, Paktya and Paktika provinces met at the Afghan National Police Regional Training Center near here Sept. 9.

Members of Combined Joint Task Force 76, including commander Army Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya also attended. Gardez provincial reconstruction team, DynCorp International and the Tribal Liaison Office, a nongovernmental organization contributing to the improvement of local governance, sponsored the event.

Governors and other representatives from the provincial governments, coalition forces and U.N. representatives gathered to discuss issues such as the upcoming elections, security and civic improvement projects.

"Who would have thought Afghanistan would be united like this," said Din Mohmad Darwish, the minister of information and culture for Paktya province, during the opening speech.

Merajudin Pathan, governor of Khowst province, described the Afghan legend of bravery that included stories of Afghans' battles with Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and, more recently, the Soviet Union .

Sadly, he added, after being victorious in battle, Afghans failed to unite with one another and bring peace and prosperity to the country. He hopes the elections would unify Afghanistan under democracy.

"If we fail [during the elections], we would have failed the whole world," Pathan said recognizing the international effort to bring freedom to Afghanistan .

The funding and construction of roads to improve transportation, commerce and trade between the three provinces was also discussed at length.

The event was seen by many as a crucial step to organize the three provinces joint efforts to improve security and projects.

"Simply put, what affects one province in this area will affect all the provinces, and then it will affect Afghanistan as a whole," said Ghulab Mangal, Paktika province governor.

"This conference provided a means where the leaders saw the common ground they share on issues they face running a provincial government," said Col. Patrick Donahue, Regional Command East Commanding.

"They have a better understanding of the challenges they face and took away tested solutions to running a local government. This meeting showed they can work together to solve their shared problems. "

(Based on a release from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan.)

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