The Taliban leadership in Afghanistan had marked its second anniversary since its swift takeover of government after a prolonged war with the U.S.-led forces, including Canada and other NATO countries. The war, which was about two decades long, was brought to an abrupt end following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
The two-decade-long war forced many countries to cut ties with Afghanistan. Most of them expressed this by withdrawing their foreign mission staff from the country.
In August 2022, the Canadian government closed its diplomatic mission in Kabul.
Speaking recently on the issue, a former Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan, Arif Lalani, said that the time was right for Canada to open its embassy in Kabul and establish relations with the Taliban government.
He said that the Canadian Embassy in Kabul shouldn’t have been closed, stating that the Canadian mission should have stayed back to confront the “extreme tendencies” of the regime there.
“I think it is not a good strategy to withdraw our forces and then negotiate,” Lalani said. “If we have left because of our safety, we must demand that we be protected and return to Earth.”
Since taking over power in Afghanistan, the country has become a theater of the absurd. It has been defined by an absolute suspension of the fundamental human rights of women and children. It has also stripped women and girls of their fundamental rights to education and work.
Lalani expressed his distaste for the failure of the world and Canada to be specific in ensuring that the people of Afghanistan, especially the female gender, were not stripped of their dignity.
“We have given up a generation of girls who are getting ready to take their place in the life of Afghanistan. And two years later, we’re now condemned to another generation of girls not going to school because, I think, the West is not acting immediately,” He said.
However, the Canadian government had continued to support the Afghan people. In a statement released on the occasion of the Taliban government’s second anniversary, the government of Canada, through its foreign affairs, international development, and immigration departments, stated Canada’s commitment to “humanitarian aid and the resettlement of at least 40,000 vulnerable Afghans.”
A part of the statement released said, “We will continue to work with our partners to advance women’s rights in Afghanistan, draw attention to the Taliban’s horrific and systematic human rights abuses, and bring these violations to the attention of the international community.”
Despite Canada’s altruistic posture towards Afghanistan, Lalani thinks it isn’t enough. According to him, “Canada could do more for Afghans if it established diplomatic relations with the Taliban government and used things like humanitarian aid as leverage.”
He acknowledged Canada’s intolerant posture towards the “worst regime” and “illegitimate government,” but argued that Canada should have been present to witness and curtail their excesses. Canada must take a tough decision on the Afghanistan issue.
Lalani holds fellowships from several institutions, including the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. He had served as Canada’s diplomat in many countries around the world, including Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan. He was appointed the country’s ambassador to Afghanistan in 2007. He left his post in 2008.