American Forces Press Service
June 4, 2009 - Following months of hard work by the people of Jalrez in Afghanistan's Wardak province, security has improved to such a degree that development money is pouring into the district. Wardak Gov. Mohammad Halim Fidai joined the Jalrez sub-governor, the president of the Jalrez community council, members from all of the district's administrative divisions, contractors and district elders to witness the contracts being signed for new projects.
The genesis of this event took place months ago, when the people of Jalrez readily volunteered for the government's new security program, the Afghan Public Protection Program, known as "the Guardians." Led by the national government in Kabul, the program is designed to get local Afghans to take charge of securing their village against militants who use them as safe havens.
The first groups of more than 240 Afghans of the Afghan Public Protection Force completed their training March 23 and are being employed in Jalrez district. Expansion of the APPF will be based on results of this pilot program, evaluated in conjunction with community leaders, Afghan security forces and the Afghan government. The Guardians are trained by the Afghan National Police and are accountable to the Interior Ministry.
Once the local people reclaim their villages from disruptive elements, the next step is to begin the process of development, which leads to economic prosperity and an enhanced quality of life.
Work on the seven projects for which the contracts were signed yesterday will begin June 6. They include multiple wells, a bridge, repairs to several schools and retaining walls to protect bazaars.
Local contractors said these projects are just the beginning. More than 20 other development projects are planned for the near future. A military officer said that the APPF has been so successful that it will allow the Afghan government to begin even larger projects within the next two months, such as an aqueduct, a clinic, mosque repairs and a canal system.
Elders from villages in Nerkh district spoke to the governor yesterday about becoming part of APPP and sharing in the security and prosperity it brings. These leaders were assured that there are enough resources and training for all of the citizens of Afghanistan to take back their future.
In his speech, Fidai said the security provided by the APPF and the clearing operations performed by Afghan security forces over the past few months will allow Jalrez to continue to prosper into the foreseeable future. With the signing of the development projects, he said, the people of Jalrez have reclaimed both security and prosperity from the Taliban.
(From a U.S. Forces Afghanistan news release.)