Afghanistan is a war-torn and very poor country "at the crossroads of Asia". It is bordered by Iran in the west, Pakistan in the south and east, former Soviet States Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China to the east. It has a population of 30 million people, although this remains an estimate, as no official census has been taken for decades. Since 2001 the US and US Allies have had troops in Afghanistan. Canada has had troops serving in the country since 2001. No substiantial public debate was ever held prior to sending troops or expanding their role in 2005. In 2004, according to Environics only 24% of Canadians supported Canadian troops in Afghanistan. Canada's troops are not currently serving as peace-keepers, but as war-fighters, in the war on terror.

[+] recent history

recent political history

Afghanistan is currently led by president Hamid Karzai, who was elected in October of 2004. Before the election, Karzai led the country after having been hand-picked by the administration of United States' President Bush to head an interim government, after the fall of the Taliban. His current cabinet includes members of the Afghan Northern Alliance, and a mix from other regional and ethnic groups formed from the transitional government by the Loya jirga (grand council). Former monarch Mohammed Zahir Shah returned to the country, but was not reinstated as king, and only exercises limited ceremonial powers.

Under the Bonn Agreement the Afghan Constitution Commission was established to consult with the public and formulate a draft constitution. The meeting of a constitutional loya jirga was held in December 2003, when a new constitution was adopted creating a presidential form of government with a bicameral legislature.

Troops and intelligence agencies from the United States and a number of other countries are present, some to keep the peace, others assigned to hunt for remnants of the Taliban and al Qaeda. A United Nations peacekeeping force called the International Security Assistance Force has been operating in Kabul since December 2001. NATO took control of this Force on August 11, 2003. Some of the country remains under the control of warlords. 3

On March 27, 2003, Afghan deputy defense minister and powerful warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum created an office for the North Zone of Afghanistan and appointed officials to it, defying then-interim president Hamid Karzai's orders that there be no zones in Afghanistan.

Eurocorps took over the responsibility for the NATO-led ISAF in Kabul August 9, 2004.

National elections were held on October 9, 2004. Over 10 million Afghans were registered to vote. Most of the 17 candidates opposing Karzai boycotted the election, charging fraud; 4 an independent commission found evidence of fraud, but ruled that it did not affect the outcome of the poll. Karzai won 55.4% of the vote. 5 He was inaugurated as president on December 7. It was the country's first national election since 1969, when parliamentary elections were last held.

On September 18, 2005, parliamentary elections were held; the parliament opened on the following December 19. On December 20 Karzai's close ally and president of the first mujahideen government, Sibghatullah Mojadeddi, was picked to head the 102-seat upper house. On December 21, Yunus Qanuni, Afghan opposition leader and Karzai's main opponent was chosen to lead the 249-seat lower house of parliament with 122 votes against 117 for his closest challenger.

Canadian Mission to Afghanistan

Canadian troops in Afghanistan

Canada's DEfense Minister in 2005 Bill Graham warned Canadians of impending casualties.

sources and resources

MacKenzie Institute
Polaris institute