Monday, January 17, 2011

Perspective From Afghanistan

The local peace movement, in which I am actively involved, has been calling for Canadian troops to be brought home from Afghanistan pretty much since the war began. We say that Western forces have never been able to impart its values upon this ancient culture, and that we are looking at the country through the ethnocentric view of our own perspective. Further, we consider the current leadership in Afghanistan to be nothing more than a puppet regime featuring an unelected "president" and his warlord buddies.

But what do I know? After all, I have never been to Afghanistan. And neither have the people who constantly criticized my views. I have never even had a conversation with someone from that country.

Until today.

We've been hit with a deep freeze in Edmonton, featuring extremely cold temperatures and snow that comes up to my waist at some points. As a result, I have been taking more taxi cabs than usual. This afternoon, I almost could have made the bus, but opted for the quicker travel time a cab would provide, and hopped into the first one that was lined up outside of the hotel where I was having coffee.

The driver, it turned out after a few minutes of polite conversation, came from Afghanistan with his young family seven years ago. I decided to take a chance, and ask him the question I have always wanted to directly ask someone from over there: what do you think of Canada's involvement in Afghanistan.

His responses filled the rest of our 20 minute journey, and offered some profound insights from someone who knows that country first hand.

"Canada doesn't really have a choice than to be over there, because the US got involved and they are just following along," he said first. That Canada is simply following the US's marching orders is something we peace folks have been saying for a while.

What came next was another eye-opener for those who say we peace people have no clue. "The US does not want peace. No one over there believes that. If you ask an average person over there, most will say they do not want the US there and they do not trust the US. Everything in Afghanistan is about money and nothing happens without the knowledge of outside international forces."

He admitted that he hates the Taliban (in fact, this was the main reason he moved his family to Canada), but that he grieves for everyone who is being killed in Afghanistan be they from the US, Canada, or the Taliban because all of them are pawns by regimes (China, Russia, the US) who are making money off of the war. He also said that he is grateful for the good things being done by Canadian forces, but kept repeating how the "war" is all about money and that he is tired of people who know nothing about Afghanistan and its people saying what should be done over there.

So there you have it: an Afghan ex-pat says that we're there to follow the US under false pretenses, and that the people of Afghanistan do not want foreign occupying forces in their country. I plan to speak to this at the next peace rally. In the meantime: bring the troops home now!

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