Boy, I sure hope we de-Baathify Iraq a little bit better than we're de-Talibanizing Afghanistan....
Khost is not the only province with former Taliban officials in government positions - under a general amnesty, all but top Taliban officials have been allowed to reenter society. But Khost is of special concern, says Colonel King, because it appears to be a major transit point for Al Qaeda supporters entering Afghanistan from Pakistan.
That's from a now-it-can-be-told story in the Christian Science Monitor about Hazratuddin Habibi, who was a member of the Taliban and was subsequently appointed intelligence chief in Khost by Hamid Karzai:
... colleagues [of Hazratuddin] in the central government's intelligence agency, Amniat, and in other military departments began to notice that raids on Taliban hideouts were coming up empty. Arrests of Al Qaeda suspects went awry. It occurred to local political leaders as well as intelligence and military officials that Hazratuddin may be a double agent.
...US and Afghan military officials agree that the entire Afghan intelligence operation in Khost has been compromised: Afghan military officials in Khost say crucial files and documents are missing. And a copy of a list of intelligence agents appears to have been given to Taliban supporters in Pakistan.
Hazratuddin was removed from office in March, along with other government officials.
"It's definitely proven that [Hazratuddin] has links with Al Qaeda," says Gen. Khial Baz Sherzai, military chief of Khost. "He had 15 men from the Taliban working with him. And even now, after Hazratuddin is gone, about 60 percent of the people in the intelligence department are still committed to Hizb-i Islami (a radical Afghan Islamist party allied to Al Qaeda)."
"Several times we have requested the central government to fire him," says General Sherzai, military commander of Khost during communist times. "As you know, Hazratuddin was a very rich man, and every time he was struck from his job, he would go to Kabul and give some money, and he would be reappointed."
Hazratuddin, for his part, claims it's his enemies who have ties to Al Qaeda.
A year or so from now, I'm sure similar things will be happening in Iraq -- and I'm sure they'll get about as much attention in the U.S. media as this is getting.