Monday, June 12, 2006

Canada should support the "Third Option" in Afghanistan

Dr. Seddiq Weera is working toward a peace initiative in Afghanistan and asks,"why does Canada not take the lead in seeking a stable peace in Afghanistan?" Currently based in Kabul as an advisor to the Education Ministry in Afghanistan, he knows the deteriorating situation in that country which is in the grip of a civil war.
The aim of such an initiative would be to include the Taliban and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Mujahideen group, through peace negotiations, in the transition to a democratic Afghanistan.

Among other things, this would involve reaching a clear peace pact among those groups involved in the civil war prior to Sept. 11, 2001. Is such negotiation possible?

Dr. Weera thinks so. His talks with key members of the Taliban and Hekmatyar's Mujahideen group over the past five months indicate that a sizable component of these groups is interested in sincere and serious peace talks.

He has also spoken with the political leader of the former Northern Alliance, and "he has confirmed his interest in a platform for national co-operation and a mechanism to provide all sides with security for their party and ethnic group".

Dr. Weera has, as well, consulted with 10 cabinet ministers in the Afghan government who are supportive of these aims.

Living in Afghanistan and seeing firsthand the increasingly volatile situation, Dr. Weera asks: "How many Canadians will die thinking they are fighting a war against terrorism when, in fact, they are also fighting in an Afghan civil war?"

Neither calling for the withdrawal of Canadian troops nor their participation in search & destroy missions, he and his associates present a proposal for a "Third Option":

I and my associates at McMaster University's Centre for Peace Studies are calling our proposal the Third Option, because it calls for neither the withdrawal of Canadian troops nor their participation in search and destroy missions, but asks that they be returned to a peacekeeping role while Canada supports a serious peace and reconciliation program in Afghanistan.

Read Dr. Weera's poignant article in its entirety here (from the Toronto Star).

Dr. Seddiq Weera is a Canadian citizen currently based in Kabul. He is an associate member of McMaster University's Centre for Peace Studies, and an advisor to the Education Ministry in Afghanistan.

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