July 8th, 2006 05:29 EST
CJTF 76 Deputy Commanding General Visits Panjshir PRT
PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan " The Combined Joint Task Force 76 deputy commanding general for effects visited the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team and governor on June 27.
Following a mission brief and lunch with Soldiers and Airmen from the PRT, Canadian Brig. Gen. Daniel Pepin met with Governor Haji Bahlol and reaffirmed the commitment of the PRT in its partnership with the provincial government.
Congratulations on your success and thank you for the outstanding job done so far of providing security for the PRT " their safety is important so we can continue to help you reconstruct the province, " General Pepin said.
The governor is the lead agent for all reconstruction projects in the province and the PRT works closely with him to be responsive to his priorities.
I`ve met 10 to 12 of the provincial governors in Afghanistan and I can tell you that other governors are envious of the stability and security here, " General Pepin told Governor Bahlol.
More work lies ahead, but many possibilities also exist with continued hard work and funding. The general compared the situation in Panjshir to that of a shopkeeper trying to bring in customers to make a sale.
We need to help figure out how to bring in [non-governmental organizations] and donors to show them the beauty here, but also the security and stability. That, I believe, will encourage investors in Panjshir, " General Pepin said.
Education and agriculture are the governor`s number one and two priorities respectively, but he believes the new paved road that is being constructed now will encourage more tourism and help the economy.
Education is the foundation for everything, " said Governor Bahlol. We`re working with the PRT on a plan for building a girls` high school near Bazarak and we have a number of other projects complete or in the works such as bringing electricity, safe drinking water, paved roads and retaining walls along the river to improve life here. "
Despite the successes, the government still faces challenges. According to the governor, there are only 22 schools in the province where at least 85 are needed and there are not enough teachers.
Governor Bahlol said he is honored to represent the people of Panjshir and he thanked the Coalition for supporting and helping them.
One hand cannot make noise without the other, " said the governor referring to the relationship between the Coalition, non-governmental organizations and his government. We can do a lot with the help of friends. "