Jim Abbott, MP for Kootenay-Columba, was one of the several MPs from the House of Commons’ Special Committee on Afghanistan who travelled to Afghanistan for a week-long trip to Kandahar and Kabul to observe the situation facing our troops and aid workers in Afghanistan.
“Canadians need to know just how proud our armed force members and civilians are of the work they are doing in Afghanistan,” Abbott in a statement released today (Friday, June 4). “I saw their determination to make a difference which is what drives them to live in harsh challenging conditions.”
He said many observers agree that Afghanistan is a failed state. Movement “outside the wire” of the Kandahar airfield is immensely dangerous and almost invariably is done in gun-equipped helicopters and heavily armoured vehicles. Western politicians driving through Kabul streets still have to wear sixty pounds of body protection in armoured vehicles, driven by heavily armed bodyguards. That is the situation today, but due to selfless dedication of Canadian Armed Forces personnel and Canadian police in Afghanistan things are changing, dramatically.
Believe it or not, Canadians literally live with the Afghans they are training, leading by example on a day-to-day basis in primitive, dangerous conditions, Abbott said.
During Abbott’s time in Kabul there was a “peace jirga,” or meeting, of Afghan citizens and political leaders preparing for peace after 31 years of constant conflict and civil war. At the opening ceremony the Taliban attempted to fire rocket propelled grenades into the giant tent covering the 1,600 delegates.
Security arrangements kept the Taliban far enough away from the jirga that the grenades, intended to kill the participants, exploded well short of their target. The Taliban insurgents were tracked down within minutes of trying to exterminate the peace delegates.
“The significance of this regrettable event was the fact that the now well-trained Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police were the ones who kept the delegates safe,” said Abbott. “Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP are training the Afghans to stand up against those who would try to paralyse their nation with terrorism. We are helping the Afghans help themselves.
“It was an extreme privilege to shake hands with such dedicated Canadians, Armed forces, RCMP, Correctional Services, CIDA, DFAIT and civilian agencies, committed to making our world more secure,” Abbott said.