CASC co-founder Lauryn Oates provides some insight into Canada's commitment, suggesting Our sacrifice in Afghanistan must not be in vain:
We’ve invested more than money into the hope that Afghanistan can someday be peaceful. Many brave Canadians have made the ultimate sacrifice on Afghan soil and their families deserve to know the extent of Canada’s commitment for seeing through the promises that have been made.
Afghan Member of Parliament Fawzia Koofi pointed out when I last met with her in Kabul in February that “the international community needs to ask why are we in Afghanistan. For our security alone, or for theirs too? Have the objectives we set been met yet if we are ready to leave? I know your governments are under pressure because you are investing blood and treasure in our country, but it’s important to ask whether the job has been done.”
Koofi raises a question that seems increasingly evaded as the international community desperately scrambles for an exit from Afghanistan. And yet it’s a question that deserves an answer in light of the human and financial cost of our extensive engagement in a country that has only just seen the first glimmers of a different kind of future, just as prospects for that future are at their most vulnerable.
In the Calgary Herald, CASC's own Lauryn Oates provides an illuminating counter to Nicholas Kristof's contention that the UN-mandated military mission should draw down and negotiate with the Taliban. An excerpt:
Kristof, author of Half the Sky and often identified as a proponent for women's empowerment, argues for a reduction of American troops in Afghanistan and for a peace deal with the Taliban.
In seeking to convince himself that this turn of events will not be harmful to Afghan women, he optimistically provides some astoundingly slim anecdotal evidence to convince us that the Taliban are really not so bad.
Kristof feels uncomfortable with what he terms the U.S. "occupation"-- though I know few Afghans who refer to the U.S. or international presence here that way -- and so waves away his own discomfort over the spectre of a new Taliban government in Afghanistan by essentially saying, don't worry, the Taliban might let girls have some schools, in some mosques, in some cases. This is hardly a reassuring argument to girls and women -- who have gained the most since the fall of the Taliban -- and conversely, have the most to lose from a Taliban return.
As Canada's parliament remains locked in a game of politics-as-usual, the result has been a lack of momentum on Afghanistan. Canada's single largest foreign policy endeavor is getting very little attention and ordinary citizens are left confused about our direction. What will happen post-2011? CASC co-founder Lauryn Oates goes over the issues in the Calgary Herald:
One would think that sustaining an investment of over $18 billion would be at the very top of our country's political agenda, and on the minds of the public, as it should be in all countries that have participated in ISAF and that have taxpayer dollars supporting reconstruction in Afghanistan.Instead, the solutions that we see put forth in Afghanistan originating from powerful institutions and from the echelons of some of the highest paid positions in the public offices of the governments of the likes of the United Kingdom and the United States are utterly alarming in their simplicity. Half-baked "solutions," like the currently in vogue pay-off-the-Taliban scheme show, a profound lack of imagination, on top of a disregard for the will of ordinary Afghans.While one might expect the best and the brightest thinkers on the payroll of NATO's member governments to be putting forth the highest calibre of intellectual inputs in the strategies they formulate, the results have been unimpressive.Meanwhile, as the pot of gold for Talibs is filled, Canada's Parliament remains deadlocked in the endlessly regurgitated issue of Afghan detainees, paying not the slightest attention to the question of what we might do in Afghanistan after next year, to ensure that our gains there are sustained and that the foundations we have helped to lay in social and political development are further built upon. Parliament has left the most important question of all to the very last minute, shirking its responsibility to ensure we can show something at the end of the day for the lives lost in Afghanistan, the huge sums of money spent there, and the promises that we made to Afghans.It's as if the international sponsors of Afghanistan's stabilization effort are only partially mobilized, like a plane flying with one engine out. Yet to be reminded of the consequences of failure in Afghanistan, we need not look very far back in history, to September 2001.
2011 Tour Schedule
Lancaster Chapter Dinner of the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) March 1-
21, 2011, Lancaster, PA (USA)
International Women’ s Day Celebration, by Women of Hope Project, March 8, 2011, Frederick, MD
Afghan Film Festival, Winnipeg, Manitoba, to March 31, 2011
Nawruz Celebration, Tufts University, Boston, MA
A Day for Afghanistan, Woodlawn Public Library, Dartmouth, NS, May 7. Info:
Public Presentation, Afghanistan: Building Peace Through Education and Literacy, Confederation Centre
Public Library, Charlottetown, PEI, May 12 Info: 902 368-4642
Upcoming Locations - Watch for Details Coming Soon!
The list of Taliban atrocities grows against those who provided hope to a nation. As reported on CTV (Female politician's murder a 'blow' to Afghan society), the Taliban have claimed responsibility for the brutal murder of a female member of Kandahar's Provincial Council, Sitara Achakzai, on Sunday afternoon. According to the report:
In November, when a group of unveiled girls was attacked by men on motorcycles who sprayed acid in their faces as they were walking to morning classes in Kandahar, Canadians were shocked.
They shouldn’t have been.
Every year, all over South Asia, hundreds of women have acid sprayed in their faces for committing the offence of going to school, or for going to work, or for merely walking down a street without covering their faces. In Bangladesh alone, an average of 228 women are subjected to such acid attacks every year.