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Political Counselor Haidari Discusses Peace and Security in Afghanistan at Emory and McGill Universities

This month Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari addressed audiences in Montreal, Canada and Atlanta, Georgia about security and reconstruction in Afghanistan and the greater South Asia region.

On April 3, he spoke on “Afghanistan’s Relations with India, Pakistan, and the United States: Partnership for Regional Peace and Prosperity” at the Claus M. Halle Institute for Global Learning at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Haidari first discussed how Afghanistan’s relations with each country have developed from an historical perspective, pointing out that the current Afghan government strives to foster and maintain mutually beneficial relations with all three countries.

“We are very optimistic about the new government in Pakistan, and hope that they will soon resume their constructive talks with India through the Composite Dialogue to help realize—among other things—the vision of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the South Asian Free Trade Agreement. These institutions will bolster regional economic growth and integration on the long run,” Haidari said.

Haidari cautioned that without stability and democratic governance in Afghanistan regional security will be endangered, as it has been in past decades. Haidari stressed the importance of Afghanistan’s neighbors willingness to adhere to the principles of the Kabul Declaration on Good Neighborly Relations, which Afghanistan and its six neighbors signed in December 2002.

“For much of the 20th century, Afghanistan was in the blind spot of the US foreign policy in spite of many efforts by Afghan leaders to establish long-term strategic partnership with the United States,” Haidari told the audience. He revisited the period following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, when the absence of a long-term strategy for post-conflict reconstruction contributed to Afghanistan’s exploitation by transnational terrorists that resulted in the tragic attacks on U.S. soil on 9/11. Haidari praised Afghan-US joint strategic achievements over the past seven years and called for an integrated and well-coordinated strategy to help ensure long-term stability and prosperity not only in Afghanistan but throughout the region.

The previous month, Haidari traveled to Canada to discuss the country’s mission in Afghanistan from a human security perspective on the invitation of the Human Rights Working Group and the McGill Center for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. In his keynote address, Haidari expressed the gratitude of the Afghan people and government to the Canadian forces for building and maintaining security in the key southern province of Kandahar. He appreciated Canada’s “whole of government approach” to its peace-building efforts in Afghanistan, and commented on the importance of balancing human and protective security efforts.

Haidari noted that “there is increasingly less peace to keep in Afghanistan but much peace to build and maintain in the country. The Canadian forces and civilian aid workers have just done that.” He added that Canada’s security and development assistance had been an integral part of international peace-building effort in Afghanistan. “Canada’s 2,500 forces have made key contributions to the ongoing effort to contain the Taliban cross-border terrorism,” Haidari commented.  In September 2006, for example, Canadian forces led Operation Medusa, a two-week-long offensive that succeeded in driving Taliban militants out of Panjwayi, a town 30 kilometers west of Kandahar City.

Haidari addressed the concern of the Canadian public about the safety of their forces in Afghanistan, and proposed that Canada’s presence in Afghanistan beyond 2009 would be in their own national security interest. “This truly international endeavor enjoys the overwhelming support of Afghans, who constitute an important strategic asset in the fight to contain terrorism.”


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