Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier dropped a bombshell Monday when he effectively called for the ouster of Asadullah Khalid, the controversial governor of Kandahar province.We all know the Governor's issues, principally his alleged involvement in torture, personally, in Kandahar. And yes, it would be a good thing to get rid of him. In Afghanistan, however, this is the muck we're into as we chose to get involved in their country, corruption and all. Ideally, yes, you'd replace him. But Bernier's uncertain performance here is not likely to make things easy for the Canadians on the ground there in the meantime given his publicly telegraphed comments now going around the world.
He subsequently issued a statement clarifying that Canada respects Afghanistan's sovereignty and was not trying to tell Kabul what to do.
Bernier had wrapped up a three-day visit to the war-torn region by saying Afghan President Hamid Karzai needs to replace Khalid as soon as possible to deal with the issue of corruption in Afghanistan's volatile south.
"There's the question to maybe have a new governor," Bernier said when asked what Karzai could do about the perception of political corruption in Kandahar province, where Canadian forces are based.
"I think (Karzai) can work with us to be sure the (new) governor will be more powerful ... (and) will do what he has to do to help us."
Several hours later, Bernier issued a statement "to clarify Canada's position."
"Afghanistan is a sovereign state that makes its own decisions about government appointments," the statement said. "I can assure you that Canada fully respects this and is not calling for any changes to the Afghan government."
"In fact, our primary goal is promoting the self-sufficiency of Afghanistan in all aspects of nationhood, including development, security and governance. We will continue working closely with all levels of the Afghan government to advance this objective."
Monday, April 14, 2008
What is this now, strike 11 for our training-wheeled Foreign Affairs Minister? Yep, about that as Maxime clumsily calls for the Governor of Kandahar's ouster then retracts it within hours. They don't issue the talking points to this guy for nothing, don't ya know...:)