In Afghanistan: 'Government In A Box' Includes Cash, Equipment, New Leaders : The Two-Way By Mark Memmott The U.S.-led battle against the Taliban in the southern Afghan crossroads of Marjah is in its second week and the focus is shifting to how any gains will be held on to after the bullets stop flying. One term that's come up a lot...
NPR logo

In Afghanistan: 'Government In A Box' Includes Cash, Equipment, New Leaders

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/114538769/123971727" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
In Afghanistan: 'Government In A Box' Includes Cash, Equipment, New Leaders

In Afghanistan: 'Government In A Box' Includes Cash, Equipment, New Leaders

The U.S.-led battle against the Taliban in the southern Afghan crossroads of Marjah is in its second week and the focus is shifting to how any gains will be held on to after the bullets stop flying.

One term that's come up a lot lately is "government in a box." That's how U.S. and allied officials describe what they hope they'll be able to plug in to Marjah in coming days and weeks.

Bay Fang, a State Department adviser now in the Marjah area to help in the transition, spoke by phone just a short time ago with All Things Considered co-host Robert Siegel. She said that much of "the focus of government in a box" right now is on Haji Zahir, an Afghan who has been tapped to come in and act as basically the mayor of Marjah. (As The Washington Post reports, Zahir paid his first visit to Marjah today.)

But since Zahir is coming from outside the area, Robert wondered, will he be able to effectively assume control? After all, there are locals who may see themselves as more legitimate leaders.

Fang said Zahir will hold shuras, or local meetings, with leaders in Marjah. They will be as "broadly represented as possible" and will be aimed at electing locals to serve on a council. "We will do everything we can to make sure that the government that moves in now is responsive to the people and accountable to them," she said:

In Afghanistan: 'Government In A Box' Includes Cash, Equipment, New Leaders

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/114538769/123971728" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

And does that mean it will be important to spread money around to effectively buy loyalty, Robert asked?

Fang said "there is cash going in, but more importantly there is also the infrastructure that we have prepared for ... this 'government in a box' ":

In Afghanistan: 'Government In A Box' Includes Cash, Equipment, New Leaders

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/114538769/123971727" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Much more from Robert's conversation with Fang will be on today's edition of ATC. Click here to find an NPR station near you. Later the as-aired version of the interview will be posted here.