Framework

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Gen. Matiullah Khan, police chief of Oruzgan province, has greatly improved security in the region using his large police force and private militia.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Police Officer Kalik Dad, 35, keeps watch from the top of a humvee on a road once controlled by the Taliban. Police now man checkpoints along the road.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

On the road between Tarin Kowt and Chinarto district in Oruzgan province. Police Chief Gen. Matiullah Khan says he pays 1,200 gunmen to protect NATO convoys on the journey from Kandahar to Tarin Kowt.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Miram Za Ghafar, left, and Abdul are shopkeepers in Chinarto district. Ghafar, who sells sugar, tea and bread, says prices have dropped because police security has improved. But residents lament the lack of government development projects to provide jobs.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Children gather along the dirt road that leads north from Tarin Kowt to Chinarto district. Elders say there are too few schools for the children, who have little chance at an education.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force says its convoys have suffered only three attacks on the Kandahar-Tarin Kowt supply road in the last two years.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Men take a break along the road. "Before Matiullah took over, you couldn't take this road -- the Taliban controlled it," said Police Lt. Col. Mohammed Zai. "They killed police and government officials and kidnapped and robbed civilians."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Despite years of foreign involvement, little development has reached rural areas like Chinarto district, where electricity and running water are rare.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Elders gather at the police post in Marabat to voice their concern over the lack of development projects such as schools, hospitals and bridges.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Children in Oruzgan province collect water in yellow jugs from a stream to transport it by donkey to their homes.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Gen. Matiullah Khan's son Nabullah, 7, plays by the gate of his father's compound in Tarin Kowt. Some of the police chief's most trusted guards stand watch at all times. He says the Taliban, under orders from Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s spy agency, has tried to assassinate him at least six times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Police officers pray at a stop along the Kandahar-Tarin Kowt road.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Police Officer Mohammed Raheem, 36, keeps watch from a lookout along the road.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

An officer stationed along the road takes a moment to pray.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

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America’s go-to man in Afghanistan’s Oruzgan province

Thousands of desperately poor Afghans in remote Oruzgan province rely on warlord turned police chief Matiullah Khan for charity and protection.

His presence there is equally important to the U.S. military, which views Oruzgan as a linchpin in southern Afghanistan.

Despite accusations of corruption and collusion against him, Matiullah plays a key role in supporting a U.S. special forces team and securing the crucial supply road from Kandahar to Tarin Kowt, the provincial capital.

1 Comment

  1. January 13, 2013, 1:33 am

    Local solution to a very difficult local situation. Best person for the job right now

    By: jeffreycrowt

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