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Karzai: Why is Canada supporting him?

August 16, 2009

This week CBC news reported on a US government funded poll which pegs support for Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai at 36 per cent in a “face to face” survey of 3, 556 Afghans conducted July 08-July 17.  The poll caps what’s been trickling down for a year: Karzai’s hold on the country is in trouble. (Set aside images of what a “face to face” interview with “local Afghans” might look like this summer during the US led military surge.)

Karzai will need 50 per cent of the vote in the August 20 presidential election in order to avoid a second run-off.

The Guardian  reports that Karzai’s government has “quietly” passed a law “permitting Shia men to deny their wives food” if sexual demands are not “obeyed.” A new final draft of the legislation, obtained by Human Rights Watch, claims that Karzai made a “deal to sell Afghan women out” in order to secure support of “fundamentalists” in the August 20 election.

The revised legislation-the original iteration caused an international uproar and much outrage here in Canada-reportedly includes provisions for “Tamkeen” where the “readiness of the wife to submit to her husband’s reasonable sexual enjoyment” is a indicator of her “obedience.”

This no-sex- no-food law reeks of a “Talibanesque” order that Canada has no business supporting and demands a pause in our continued lock-step with NATO support of Hamid Karzai.

In Afghanistan’s last presidential election (2004), Karzai won with 55 per cent of the vote. He first emerged as “interim president” in 2001, at the Bonn Conference, where Afghan delegates represented by “ethnic blocs”  eventually chose Karzai as a “compromise candidate.”

At every step of what might be called the Karzai Trail, two hand-maidens appear: one, the wooing of “fundamentalists” with “Talibanesque” pasts such as  Shia clerics who support the suppression of women’s rights. And, two, a sliding scale of US and NATO plus Northern Alliance support, none so spectacular as this year’s US  Army 5th Stryker Brigade’s surge.

If Canada maintains firm in its bid to stay on until 2011 in the name of promoting democracy, nation-building, and “our way of life” when it comes to women’s rights, and if our citizens continue to come home as war dead (current count 127), then we need to demand Prime Minister Harper support someone with a legislative track record superior to Mr. Karzai. And that begs the next question, who? Thoughts welcome.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. reneethewriter permalink
    August 17, 2009 6:35 pm

    Update: Globe and Mail, August 16/09 (online) Sonia Verma reports that President Karzai has allowed General Abdul Rashid Dostum to return from exile in “exchange for his endorsement.” Dostum is described by the Globe, somewhat anemically as an Uzbek warlord accused of human-rights abuses.” What an understatement. I’ll have more to say about Dostum, the Northern Alliance and links to the US policy of the 90’s, later. As well, keep an eye out for Zalmay Mamozy Khalilzad. We might hear from him again as well. The point here for Canada’s role in the world: we sacrifice Canadian lives in the hopes of promoting peace, building democracy and protecting our interests. I’m increasingly skeptical of the company we keep in A/Stan toward these ends.

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