Analyzing Afghanistan

Afghan ambassador sounds off on the West’s role in a conflicted country

Although some Canadians may disagree with sending troops to Afghanistan, the country’s ambassador to Canada said people need to understand the situation better so they can have a concrete idea with educated solutions.

“Otherwise it will all just be considered as rhetoric or politicswith no substantial outcome in mind.”
On Nov. 2, Omar Samad came to Queen’s as part of the Canadian Values and Democracy Lecture Series, organized by the Centre for the Study of Democracy. His lecture, entitled “The Afghanistan mission: an Afghan perspective,” which took place in the Policy Studies building, focused on Afghanistan’s history, and was followed by questions by the audience on a variety of issues.

Samad said the Afghan people welcome foreign assistance from Canada and other countries. “The Afghan people have had very high regards for countries such as Canada and the West overall,” he told the Journal. “They have never seen Canadians or Westerners as aggressors, or as forced occupiers, but rather they have seen them as people who have helped them in difficult times.”

Samad said there is still much room for improvement in how foreign aid is implemented. “They keep hearing that … the international community has been very generous,” he said. “[But] when they look around, they see very little examples on the ground.” To understand Afghanistan’s current situation, Samad said, people need to take into account its historical information. Samad said terrorist attacks have been carried out by individuals andgroups trained in Afghanistan since the late ’80s and ’90s.

But Samad said the attacks of 9/11 put Afghanistan back on the radar, sparking foreign interest in helping to rebuild the country. He also said that Afghanistan is making the transition to democracy on ts own accord. “There are people going around saying the West is imposing democracy on Afghans, [but] Afghans chose a constitution with democracy and voting,” he said. “We’ve accomplished a lot
because the Afghan people wanted it, but we have a long way to go to solidify the gains,” he said.

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