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Expressing gratitude for Canada's continuing investment in Afghanistan

OP-ED By Barna Karimi, National Post, June 26, 2012:

The enduring and strong relations between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Canada have been further highlighted by the outcomes reached at NATO's Chicago Conference last month. Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada's financial contribution would amount to $110-million per year for three years beyond 2014, which is part of the larger NATO effort to contribute up to $4.1-billion annually to support the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) as they takes sole responsibility when International Security Assistance Forces pull out of the country.

Canada's efforts in Afghanistan encompass four major priorities: investments in the future of Afghan youth, advancement of security, promotion of regional diplomacy, and humanitarian assistance. The generous assistance of the Canadian government has will help transform the county and instill long awaited security and stability in a key geo-political region targeting the larger war on terror.

Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, Afghanistan was not on the foreign-policy radar screen of Canada. It was a povertystricken state that lacked any sort of international attention. However, even the trifling relations that then existed between the two countries were severed in 1979 as a result of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. As such, it was not until the planes crashed into the World Trade Center and gave birth to the global war on terror that Afghanistan began to shape Canadian foreign policy objectives. The 9/11 attacks were seen as a terrorist assault not only on the United States but also on the Western democratic world at large.

For Afghanistan, a country that has known only a few rare periods of peace, the generous contributions made by Canada over the years have played a momentous role. The announcement of new post2014 funding and the generous support of the international community will aid in creating a sufficient and sustainable ANSF that is necessary for the stability and security of Afghanistan as it enters the challenging years ahead.

Afghanistan's military, the ANSF, is the most respected and highly valued institution in the Afghan government. The plan agreed to in Chicago calls for accelerating the growth of ANSF while international partners help prepare them to take the lead role in maintaining security within the country and combating terrorism. It has become evident that a strong, sufficient and sustainable ANSF is vital in order to preserve the sacrifices and investments made by NATO, ISAF and other partners in supporting the Afghan people. Funding ANSF is a strategic move that will ensure Afghanistan does not become a safe haven for terrorist activities that threaten international peace and security.

Canada has contributed greatly to strengthen the government of Afghanistan and various development institutions in order to build a stable, peaceful and self-sustaining democratic country. The decision to grant financial assistance for three years beyond 2014 is part of a noble cause and will ensure that Afghanistan establishes stability and security, and continues its path towards economic prosperity.

Canada's commitment to Afghanistan will defend Canadian interests at home and further resonate the democratic ideals of this country on the world stage. Decades of warfare and instability have left Afghanistan with a terrible legacy that must be overcome through the cooperation of the international community. Canada's commitment to provide financial assistance once NATO-led security forces pull out in 2014 will help Afghanistan from relapsing into a failed state and prove that all the sacrifices that Canadian people have made over the years are worthwhile.

Barna Karimi is Afghanistan's ambassador to Canada.



240 Argyle Ave. Ottawa, Ontario, K2P-1B9 | Phone: (613) 563-4223 / 65 | Fax: (613) 563-4962 | contact@afghanembassy.ca