Monday, December 13, 2010

Canadian Peace Alliance: Most Afghans want NATO troops out of their country

Toronto - The most recent poll of Afghan attitudes towards NATO shows that a huge majority want NATO to leave their country. In fact, only 17 per cent want the West to stay after 2011.

“With violence increasing at alarming rates throughout the country and each new deployment of soldiers only making matters worse, these poll results are no surprise,” said Canadian Peace Alliance Co-Chair Chris Jones.

The poll, conducted in November by four major news agencies including the BBC, also showed a dramatic increase in the number of Afghans who think that attacks on foreign forces are justified, a four-fold increase compared to one year ago. This makes increasingly unlikely the notion asserted by Defence Minister Peter MacKay that Canada’s “training mission” after 2011 will take place in a “safe”, non-combat space in Afghanistan.

“The Afghan people have spoken and they are asking us to leave their country, and the Canadian people have spoken and they want the troops brought home,” said Derrick O’Keefe, Co-Chair of the Canadian Peace Alliance. “The questions is, who was Stephen Harper listening to when he decided to extend the Canadian troop deployment for another three years?”

One answer is U.S. Ambassador David Jacobsen who worked to broker the deal between the Conservatives and Liberals to extend the mission. It is also true that Canadian mining corporations have expressed interest in exploiting part of the nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral resources in the country. In short, the rich and powerful want Canadian troops to stay longer, against the wishes of the people in Afghanistan and in the NATO countries.

The Canadian Peace Alliance promises to continue its efforts to end the Canadian deployment to Afghanistan. “We have the backing of a clear majority of Canadians -- and this includes the involvement of increasing numbers of Afghan Canadians and military family members – as we carry on our push to bring the troops home,” said Jones.