Gulab Mangal was born in 1958 in the town of Laja Mangal in Paktia province. He is an ethnic Pashtun from the Mangal tribe. Mangal received his BA in literature from Kabul University, and afterward joined the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. Throughout the 1970's Mangal worked as a colonel in the Afghan Army, as well as in the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior. Once the Soviets invaded he joined the mujahideen. After the U.S-led invasion of 2001, he was a pivotal figure in the redrafting of the Afghan Constitution, when he was appointed Regional Coordinator of the Constitutional Loya Jirga in Paktia. During President Karzai's term, Mangal served as the governor of Paktika Province from 2004-2006, governor of Laghman Province from 2006-2008, and then Govenor of Helmand Province from 2009-2012. Mangal was heavily praised as the Governor of Helmand, one of his most notable accomplishments being that he had reduced opium cultivation by 33% by introducing a wheat cultivation program as an alternative for farmers. There have been at least four known attempts of assassination on Mangal's life. Mangal was also quoted in a WikiLeaks cable as saying that the British troops were not engaging enough with the people of Afghanistan.
On April 15 2015, Mangal was confirmed as the Minister of Borders and Tribal Affairs under President Ashraf Ghani. Later that year, Mangal lead a delegation in putting together the infamous Dand-e Ghori agreement in Baghlan province. Mangal said that he made the agreement with the local elders in the area to improve the security situation. Per the agreement, the locals would maintain their own security and government forces would not attack or make arrests without permission from tribal elders. However, critics say that Mangal pretty much handed Dand-e Ghori over to the Taliban, and the Taliban took advantage of the agreement to bolster their ranks, and use the area as a launching pad to attack other areas in the north. Farhad Azimi, a lawmaker from Balkh province was quoted by Pajhwok Afghan News on October 3, 2015 that "signing the agreement with local elders who have no authority is nothing but giving opportunity to Taliban." Another lawmaker announced that the "Taliban who face defeat in Baghlan, Kunduz, Samangan and other provinces have taken refuge in Dand-e Ghori. The place has become a safe haven for them." Others even accused Mangal and other government officials involved in the deal of treason, and that they should be dealt with by the Attorney General's office, as they have "ceded a part of the Afghan soil to the insurgents".
When Mangal was questioned about the deal by a Tolo News journalist, Mangal became frustrated and angry, and instead verbally attacked the journalist by saying that he was using "Iranian words", and that he doesn't even know the national language of Afghanistan, Pashto to understand the agreement.1 Months later, news reports and security officials confirmed a major increase in violence in the north and a stronger Taliban presence as a result of the agreement Mangal lead and helped put in place.
1- See Tolo News Farakhabar, September 19, 2015, starting at 2:00.
by S. Ghilzai and Abdullah Qazi / February 20, 2016