A Peace to Keep in Afghanistan

Tasneem Jamal

Briefing 08-1

Ernie Regehr

The final report of the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan (Manley Panel) (2008) reinforced a prominent misperception in the current debate over the role of Canadian forces in Afghanistan, namely that “there is not yet a peace to keep in Afghanistan.” In large areas of the country, essentially the northern half, there is indeed a peace to keep. To be sure, it is a fragile peace, but if it is not protected, built upon, and genuinely nurtured it will yet be lost.

International forces deployed in the north follow the model of peace support operations intended to protect people in their homes, communities, schools, and places of work. Thus these regions of the country, which are relatively free of the insurgency that increasingly plagues the south, have the opportunity to develop and advance the human security of Afghans.

The harsh reality is that the counterinsurgency combat operations in the south are repeating history in their failure to stem, never mind defeat, the insurgency. The growing danger is that while the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and NATO focus on the south, the security, reconstruction, and governance challenges in the north will be neglected to the point that declining northern confidence in local and national government will lead to collapse there as well.

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