Thursday, January 14, 2010

Did Canada's Ambassador to Afghanistan Know About the Widespread Corruption?

On the first of November, an article appeared in the New York Times entitled: With Karzai, U.S. Faces Weak Partner in Time of War

WASHINGTON — With the White House’s reluctant embrace on Sunday of Hamid Karzai as the winner of Afghanistan’s suddenly moot presidential runoff, President Obama now faces a new complication: enabling a badly tarnished partner to regain enough legitimacy to help the United States find the way out of an eight-year-old war.

It will not be easy. As the evidence mounted in late summer that Mr. Karzai’s forces had sought to win re-election through widespread fraud (aka: Karl Rove does Afghanistan) to defeat his main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, administration officials made no secret of their disgust. How do you consider sending tens of thousands of additional American troops, they asked in meetings in the White House, to prop up an Afghan government regarded as illegitimate by many of its own people?

Veteran journalist Arthur Kent (shown in the above video) raises similar concerns about Canada's promotion of this corrupt government, and lays at least some of the blame on our former ambassador to Afghanistan, Arif Lalani:

He was the smooth-talking Western ambassador who gladly accepted trinkets and praise from the enfeebled president of Afghanistan.

Indeed when Canada’s Arif Lalani was marking the end of his Kabul posting on July 31, 2008, he made sure that a Canadian photographer was on hand at the presidential palace to snap him receiving a medal from a gushing Hamid Karzai.

By that time most other foreign governments were distancing themselves from Karzai’s teetering regime.

Western diplomats, including Canadians, were advising their political masters to discipline Karzai and his ministers, or risk seeing the government's tenuous legitimacy collapse completely.

But Arif Lalani and his superiors in Canada’s Conservative government were staunch in their support for Karzai - and busy staunching unflattering facts about his ministries and security services, as has now been confirmed by a Foreign Affairs whistleblower. (Meaning Richard Colvin)

The Canadian Press also reported that the Harper government personally backed a man who had a reputation for torturous acts. This would of course have put our troops in even more danger. Those same troops that Harper and his gang of thugs are now trying to hide behind.

OTTAWA–A former governor of Kandahar who is accused of personally torturing Afghans might have been removed from office as far back as 2006 if Canadian officials hadn't defended him, according to diplomatic memos that have never been made public by the Canadian government.

The revelation about Asadullah Khalid, who stayed on as governor two years after concerns about his notorious reputation were raised, opens up another embarrassing avenue of inquiry over Afghan prisoner abuse.

So is is possible they didn't know?

That seems highly unlikely, given their tight control on communications. But Arthur Kent also reveals that he interviewed Lalani soon after his arrival in Afghanistan, and was very clear about what was going on. And yet we continued to give the Karzai government millions of dollars in 'aid' without any records of what he was doing with our money. This is unacceptable.

This reporter’s meeting with Ambassador Arif Lalani in May of 2007 revealed much about the man and his remit from the Harper government. He was new to Kabul, and responded to my request for an interview by suggesting that we meet for tea.

I invited him to the Serena Hotel, which at that time had not yet been targeted by Taliban suicide bombers and gunmen.

At first, Lalani was all questions. But gradually, he became pensive and aloof. He clearly didn’t enjoy hearing about the exploits of the regime’s rogue Attorney General, Abdul Jabar Sabet, or the harrowing experiences of Canadian law enforcement advisers, who were trying to trace police funding under Interior Minister Zarar Muqbul.

I told him about the heroin trafficking scandal at Kabul Airport, just down the road. And was he aware that the Pentagon was filling the pockets of Hamid Wardak, the son of the regime’s defence minister, with contracts for his father’s Afghan National Army?

It's definitely time to RETHINK AFGHANISTAN!

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