Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ending Afghanistan's Agony: "Our Afghan Comrades Speak Out."

The absolutely indispensable Andrew Potter, in his Macleans column:

. . .And so the people of Afghanistan could be forgiven for feeling that Canada is preparing to abandon them. This was clear from the opening remarks by one of the organizers, Babur Mawladin. I expected the slightly nervous, bespectacled fellow to say a few words of welcome before turning the microphone over to the speakers. Instead, he gave a 10-minute stemwinder, in Dari and in English, that had them pounding on the tables. “We made mistakes,” he yelled. “But we did not make a mistake when we freed Afghanistan, and the job is not done. We must finish the job, and we must do it right.”

That was a prelude to Ludin’s opening remarks. When things go well, said Ludin, for his part, we all like to take the credit. But when things go rough, “the critical thing, the honourable thing, is to stay committed.” Yes, he conceded, Canada has suffered, but you can’t leave because things have got hard. “Canada has been a friend to Afghanistan in good times; we need Canada to be a friend in bad times.”

Ludin, too, got a huge cheer from the gathering. And he was followed by Najia Haneefi, the former director of the Women’s Educational Centre in Kabul, the largest women’s organization in Afghanistan, who now works out of Ottawa. She likewise pleaded with Canada to stay in her country. Not only would a premature pullout be perceived negatively by the Afghan people and our NATO allies, she said, but it would also undermine all of the work we have done so far.

Bob Rae was clearly annoyed with the suggestion that Canada is abandoning Afghanistan next year. . .

And our Afghan comrades are clearly annoyed with the 'Never you mind, dears, we bigshots have everything under control" approach to the question of Canada and Afghanistan Post-2011. It was a bit peculiar for Bob Rae to leave the impression that he was leaping to the defence of what Afghan-Canadians consider to be the worst aspects of the Conservative government's handling of the Afghanistan file - its opacity, its equivocation, its timidity and its ambiguity. Rae is as decent and competent a Liberal as you'll find in Ottawa. He should know that nudge-and-wink assurances of backroom horsetrading aren't going to mollify Afghanistan's friends. This is vital public policy. It goes straight to the matter of what kind of country Canada is. It's an issue that demands open public debate, and political leadership.

Intimately related: "Let Democracy Resound."


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