Dion told Canadian pullout could undo progress: Ambassador
Calls by the federal Liberals for a new, non-combat role for Canadian troops in Afghanistan could undo the gains made so far and mean the sacrifices made by slain soldiers have been in vain, says Afghanistan’s ambassador to Canada.
Omar Samad says that message was delivered to Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion when he met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul on Saturday.
Dion wants Canadian troops to take on a less dangerous role once their current assignment in Kandahar runs out in a year. But Karzai delivered a pointed reminder to Dion that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had their roots in Afghanistan and warned the country’s stability is not yet assured.
“The Afghans do not want a relapse, especially to pre-9/11 conditions,” Samad said yesterday in an interview.
“This type of threat, in the form of terrorism and extremism, needs to be dealt with directly and head-on. That point had been made by the president.”
After his meeting on Saturday, Dion said Karzai would “welcome” whatever role Canada plays in rebuilding his troubled country even if it’s not a combat mission.
But yesterday, Samad suggested while Afghanistan would “respect” Canada’s decision on the future of the mission, it might not welcome a decision to withdraw Canadian soldiers before Afghan security forces are ready to take over.
“Decisions have to be made in a co-ordinated fashion,” Samad said. “Also, we have to be mindful of timeliness, for example the readiness and capacity of the Afghan security forces to not only control the situation but protect civilians and be able to perform their duty.”
In September, Karzai warned Afghanistan will return to “anarchy” if Canada pulled its troops from the country in 2009, when the current military commitment runs out.