Afghans For Peace is an organization led by some Americans and Canadians advocating a total withdrawal by international military forces fighting the Taliban from Afghanistan. This position is opposed by some, like Fahim Khairy, an Afghan living in the USA, who realize that a withdrawal will leave the country to the tender mercies of theocratic fanatics. Khairy wrote a note on his Facebook page:
Sometimes I find it complicated to place myself in a position to decide for millions of people who are living inside Afghanistan while I am sitting in my warm cozy dining room in the US. Even if I was born in Afghanistan that still doesn’t qualify me to make such a decision.
In recent years an organization was formed by some people called Afghans for Peace. In public, this group is led by some young women who mostly live in US and Canada and as I personally studied that most of them are related to very strong political families that were and are involved in the 30 years of war in Afghanistan, however behind close doors, its not clear who is financing it.
Their main slogan is for The NATO and other foreign forces is to leave the country and pull out their soldiers from Afghanistan immediately. This is the same goal that Taliban are also fighting for. What is different between a group of religious fanatics and a group of young westernized women when they share common goal related to the same country? Maybe the difference is that The Taliban wear Afghani black turbans and these women wear miniskirts.
The Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee is dedicated to the building of civil institutions and the ordinary freedoms and human rights that we take for granted in Canada. Many times, we have pointed out the need for Afghanistan's leaders and their international supporters to call abusers and violators out -- indeed, we have never committed unmitigated support for any particular politicians, but rather the fledgling democratic system of Afghanistan.
There is no question that human rights are violated by government sanctioned operators in Afghanistan. Reports are rife of official corruption, brutalities carried out by a duly-appointed judiciary and the depradations of the police upon the very people they are meant to protect. CASC condemns these things.
By the very nature of the awful frequency of these brutalities, it must be admitted that CASC does not have the internal resources to make statements covering all violations as they occur or even promptly thereafter, though we have tried in the past to keep up. This brings us to a harsh bit of criticism on one Canadian blog:
Said Musa, who has been held without trial, tortured and beaten by his guards, sodomized and raped by his fellow prisoners and asked to renounce his Christian faith has been told all will be well if he simply converts back to Islam. It appears there will be no Condoleeza Rice moment by Hillary Clinton to intervene on behalf of the US as occurred in a similar case in 2006. Indeed, as Obama puffs out his chest and declares the Taliban will never return to Afghanistan, it is quite obvious the enemy is determined regardless, and Tali-bad-dudes or not, the same law seems to apply.
And from Terry Glavin and his Canadian Afghanistan Solidarity Committee (CASC) friends there has been nary a peep. As I’ve said before, the hope for a better future in Afghanistan is doomed to the wretched existence under Islam which all Afghanis must endure. Under ISAF’s military gains on behalf of the Afghan people, what good are the humanitarian efforts by Glavin and his friends if those who are helped remain in the embrace of Islam, and through their cultish existence, are keen to normalize the inhumanity of their ideology? Said Musa epitomizes the anti-reason for the presence of Western nations in Afghanistan, and it delegitimizes what the CASC and their supporters are trying to do.
While individual CASC members have indeed condemned the treatment of Said Musa and what it represents in the bigger picture elsewhere, we have not made a strong statement on this website regarding this specific case -- until now.
Our members are absolutely united in condemning the horrific treatment of Said Musa. Likewise, we condemn the horrendous outrages committed in the name of "Islamic justice", whether by the Taliban or by the official government of Afghanistan and its courts.
We want Said Musa released. And if some Afghans would surely threaten him upon his release, we want the government of Afghanistan to do their duty according to their own constitution and its claim to respect the human rights of their citizens.
We want him protected. Of course, we wish that there were no need for that protection, but the awful reality is that intolerance is not merely the preserve of corrupt officials in Afghanistan.
We have always taken a consistent line in this regard. Failure to effect change is no reflection of our intentions or the earnest work of our colleagues. Transforming Afghanistan is a challenging prospect, but one that needs to be undertaken.
We absolutely disagree with the idea that we are "keen to normalize the inhumanity" of the worst abuses and crimes committed in the name of political Islam, whether by the Taliban or others.
The point of our work is to engage Afghans, support the people in their aim to build a country that respects human rights and does not act as a haven for international gangsters and terrorists.
According to consultations we have undertaken with the Canadan-Afghan community and across a wide spectrum of society in Afghanistan, the vast majority still want Canada to remain involved, help their country achieve stability, help them recover and build civil institutions so that they might one day achieve something of the status of a "normal" country; a place where people can learn, work and offer some sort of future for their children -- a place not governed by corrupt officials or tyrannical religious zealots.
We are realistic that there are significant numbers of people in Afghanistan working against these positive goals. Some of them work for the Taliban. Many do not, but are essentially aligned with that movement's xenophobic, mysoginist and brutal aims. These people exist. But we believe they do not represent the future of the country; that is, they will not represent the future of Afghanistan if the rest of the country stands against them and we do not abandon our allies.
Overcoming this segment of society in a country placing at or near the bottom of virtually any index from literacy to poverty and freedom is not going to be easy. And realistically, we will have to continue to condemn brutalities and violations carried out by those who have utterly failed in their charge of helping lead and build their own society.
But abandoning the people of Afghanistan and leaving them to be eaten up by their worst elements is not an option. Not for us.
The Canadian Hero Fund UBC would like to present Canadian Forces Lt Commander Rob Watt, IED (Improvised Explosive Device) expert and head of training for ISAF in Afghanistan. His presentation ub Vancouver will focus on the changing nature of the enemy in Afghanistan with regards to the use of unconventional weapons in today's security environments.
Lt Commander Watt will be introduced by the Director of the Security and Defence Program of the Centre of International Relations at the University of British Columbia - Dr. Brian Job
When - Thursday, January 27th
Where - Global Lounge, UBC
- includes Starbucks coffee, refreshments and snacks.
Commander Watt will be taking questions afterwards.
The Canadian Hero Fund is a nationwide charity that supports the families of fallen Canadian Forces members. We are an apolitical organization that provides scholarship opportunities to the children of those soldiers killed. Learn more at: www.herofund.ca
Grant Kippen and Scott Worden outline the consequences of a crisis over Afghanistan's 2010 election for the rule of law and democracy in that country.
Today would have been the first day of Afghanistan's second elected Parliament, had it not been for Afghan President Hamid Karzai's announcement on Wednesday that the inauguration should be postponed for a month to allow a specially created tribunal to rule on election disputes. If the extraordinary five-member panel of judges appointed by Karzai to review fraud nullifies the results of the September 2010 vote, it will provoke a Constitutional crisis and leave Afghanistan without a legitimate Parliament at a time when national unity is urgently needed to fight the insurgency and manage a delicate reintegration process with militants. The delay is also a strong signal that the international community's $500 million investment in Afghan elections over the past two years, and a fundamental pillar of the rule of law in Afghanistan, is about to fail.
The heart of the crisis is a dispute over who has the final say in deciding the results of Afghan elections. The Electoral Law is clear: the country's Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the separate Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) are responsible for investigating fraud and certifying results, which they released on November 24, 2010. Unhappy with the outcome, however, the Afghan government has created a new forum that it hopes will reach a different but more amiable result for the President -- either by ordering recounts in certain provinces or by overturning decisions made by the ECC that went against Karzai allies. If successful, the majority of Afghans who have accepted the results will know that despite the international community's rhetoric over the past ten years, political expediency matters more in Afghanistan than their votes or the law.
While the international community has for the most part remained steadfast in its support for Afghanistan's fragile democracy, some parts of the country still remain vulnerable to the predations of the Taliban.
In a country thirsting for education and starving for jobs, the village of Salavat is being offered both in abundance — but there are no takers here.
“If our children come to this school, the Taliban will come at night,” said the villager, one of five brave old men who answered an invitation to a shura, or meeting, at the school. It’s been renovated using Canadian dollars after it was shot up and closed down by the Taliban several years ago.
The area was militarily “cleared” of insurgents by Canadian, Afghan and U.S. soldiers in the summer and fall, but the next stage of winning local hearts and minds is another story.
The whitewashed new school stands empty. Coalition forces put out word there are jobs for everyone — especially for targeted “fighting-age males” — but the only work being done is with contractors brought in from elsewhere.
There have been night letters on doors, threats posted at mosques and beatings from the Taliban, who, until recently, owned this place and have no intention of giving it up.
Get paid for government work, say the elders, and the insurgents come to your door to collect those wages.
Author and journalist Christopher Hitchens on why the West must continue to remain engaged in Afghanistan.
Statebuilding Beyond the State: The Case of Afghanistan
December 6, 2010, 12:00pm - 2:00pm
SFU Harbour Centre (Room 7000 - 515 West Hastings St.)
On December. 6, 2010, Canada's World is hosting a special dialogue with Ben Rowswell, Visiting Scholar at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University. Rowswell is a career Canadian diplomat, most recently as the Representative of Canada in Kandahar (RoCK) from September 2009 to August 2010. As RoCK, Rowswell was Canada's top civilian representative in Kandahar, serving as the senior Canadian interlocutor on matters related to Afghan governance and development in Kandahar province. This dialogue is free and open to the public; no RSVP is required. Limited seating is allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
With Canadian Liberal MP Bob Rae's articulate latest display of courage regarding the Afghanistan mission, we do hope that media pundits and political commentators of all stripes get the message: the values of defending democracy and human rights abroad ought to be something that transcends politics.
Yes, politics is and should be a factor. But let's remember why we got involved in the first place. An excerpt from Bob Rae's statement on Afghanistan:
No doubt there might be short term partisan advantage in playing to the gallery about its fatigue with the Afghanistan engagement. It is a difficult, frustrating, costly, and painful military and political conflict. It is hard to see a road to success, and hard as well to see much progress in the life and condition of the people. “Troops out now” would win much applause.
We went into Afghanistan with our NATO partners, with the full approval of the United Nations. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, ravaged by 30 years of civil war. Al Qaeda and other extremist groups have found a haven in the south of the country and the north of Pakistan.
Of course all issues are about politics. But some issues can transcend partisanship. In every other country in the NATO alliance there is multipartisan support for efforts in Afghanistan, a willingness to discuss options, in a climate of public candour.
Why should Canada be any different ? Our political culture is now all about trench warfare. Everything is supposed to seen through a partisan lens, and everything played to short term advantage. Anyone who asks “what’s best for Afghanistan ?”, or “what’s best for Canada, our role as a reliable member of NATO and the UN ?” is portrayed as some kind of poor sap who doesn’t “get” politics.
It’s called doing what you think is right, talking to the public about it, and worrying less about who gets credit. There’s something almost pathological about the state of our politics, to say nothing of political commentary, if we can’t have that kind of conversation.
CASC's Terry Glavin provides much-needed analysis of what the new Canadian commitment to Afghanistan means and what it took to get here.
For two full years, in spite the pleadings of the Conservative government, the House of Commons refused to show any leadership at all on the question of Canada's post-2011 role in Afghanistan. It is an irony of the most spectacular kind that when 11th-hour statesmanship was revealed to be finally breaking the impasse last week, the main thing the pundits instructed us to do was to join them in their harrumphing and trousers-wetting about Stephen Harper's supposed contempt for the House of Commons.
We should recall that for two full years the House of Commons Special Committee on Afghanistan refused to discharge its duties, in contempt of the Parliament by which its duties were assigned. Instead, it turned itself into a lurid chamber for the most foul (and groundless) "torture" allegations against members of the Canadian Forces. It had become like some kind of celebrity television show where the contestants were challenged to find ways to put the name of a cabinet minister in the same sentence with the words "war criminal."
It's finally over.
Up to 1000 Canadian soldiers may remain in Kabul as trainers and may remain in the country until at least 2014, reports the CBC.
If true, the government would be committing to a strong commitment to Afghanistan that would do much to complement ongoing efforts in education, health and institution building. This is very welcome news.
On a related note, CASC member Terry Glavin offers his opinion on the ending of formal silence on Canada's Afghanistan plan:
Where's the news in that? The news is that the PMO appears to have finally allowed the federal cabinet to actually talk about it. In the sleepy-hollow atmosphere of Ottawa, this is actually bombshell stuff. Norman Spector wants to reduce it all to a case of the Prime Minister "flip-flopping." It is nothing of the kind. Prime Minister Harper has committed no flip from which to flop. He has kept shtum, like some sort of pensive emir, and he's been allowed to get away with it. For more than a year.