No Exit Strategy for Canada without Negotiations

Tasneem Jamal

News release on the Manley Report from Group of 78, the Canadian Peacebuilding Coordinating Committee and the World Federalist Movement

January 22, 2008

OTTAWA, ON–Canadian peacebuilding organizations are calling on the Government of Canada to recognize that the insurgency in Afghanistan cannot be solved militarily. The Group of 78, WFM – Canada and CPCC suggest that Canada needs to shift the focus of its efforts to the facilitation of Afghan-led political negotiations and reconciliation. This strong recommendation comes in response to the report released today by the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan.

The above-mentioned NGOs welcome the report’s reference to the importance of national reconciliation. However, Ernie Regehr, co-founder of Project Ploughshares, notes that “The report’s concept of reconciliation is based on the model of amnesty, rather than a comprehensive process to address fundamentally conflicting interests.”

“In the description of the Taliban the authors of the report acknowledge that the current fight is a continuation of the old civil war, and they say reconciliation must be ‘eventually’ achieved – yet how to encourage and support a peace process is not elaborated on and no innovative recommendations for the way forward are made,” says David Lord, Director of CPCC.

Peggy Mason, former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament, speaking on behalf of the Group of 78, emphasizes that “The report does call for a more assertive Canadian diplomacy, but only with the intention of increasing the effectiveness of current counterinsurgency and reconstruction efforts.” Says Mason, “What is urgently needed is a concerted initiative to mobilize a comprehensive peace process. This process must be led by Afghans themselves, but with international partners like Canada playing a supporting role.

WFM – Canada President Warren Allmand notes that the Panel’s call for a high-level civilian representative of the UN is welcomed. “However,” Allmand notes that “he or she should be tasked with more than ensuring civilian – military coherence. The UN is best suited to galvanize international support for a truly inclusive peace process.”

Failure to elaborate on this fundamental challenge of a political solution jeopardizes the relevance of the entire document.

In addition, the NGOs stressed that key regional actors including Iran and Pakistan must be brought into this dialogue. Empty exhortations for the increasingly troubled Pakistani government to address insecurity within its borders must be replaced with international support for processes that address the deep democratic deficit that is at the root of Pakistan’s insecurity.

Now is the time for Canadian parliamentarians to have a comprehensive debate on Afghanistan prior to the April NATO Summit so that Canada can bring to the table innovative new ideas for a winning strategy for Afghanistan and the region.

For more information, please contact:

Peggy Mason
Group of 78
Tel.: 613.832.9322
Email: peggymason@bellnet.ca

Ernie Regehr
Tel.: 519.591.4421
Email: eregehr@ploughshares.ca

David Lord
Director, CPCC
Tel.: 613.241.3446
Email: david@peacebuild.ca

Warren Allmand
National President, World Federalist Movement – Canada
Tel.: 514.486.1811
Email: wallmand@canada.com

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