Canadian support for the mission in Afghanistan is down. A recent Canadian Press-Decima survey found that 67% of respondents believe the number of Canadian casualties is unacceptable. Only 25% of those interviewed said they believed the casualty figures were acceptable.
More Canadians believe that this is a war that can’t be won. Little wonder, when you consider the tactics that the Taliban have been employing of late. Canadian forces abide by international law and make the effort to conduct themselves accordingly, however the same can’t be said of their adversaries.
The Taliban owe most of their successes against the Canadian military to bombs planted on the nations dusty highways. When a passing armored vehicle is hit, the Taliban notch it up as a victory. This tactic may add to their kill rate, but it certainly doesn’t add to their prestige as a fighting force, or to their image as heroic fighters.
It seems there is no limit to how far they are prepared to go in taking on American and NATO forces. A recent tactic has been to use children to carry out suicide missions.
Taliban ‘recruiters’ have been showing up in madrassas in Pakistan and educating children in the arts of terrorism. This includes showing the children videos of suicide attacks and teaching them how to drive cars and motorcycles.
Recently they gave a fourteen year old boy named Rafiqullah a mission. He was selected to go to Afghanistan and stage a suicide attack with an Afghan governor as his target.
The boy crossed the border and made it to the Afghan city of Khost, were he linked up with his handler, one Abdul Aziz. When Aziz fitted Rafiqullah with a special vest rigged with explosives, it all became a little too real for the boy and he balked. He told Aziz that he was afraid and couldn’t carry out the order. Aziz then threatened the boy with death and pointed a gun at him. Fortunately the police got wind of what was going on and took Rafiqullah into custody. Shortly afterwards he was released on the orders of President Hamid Karzai, who described him as an “innocent pawn”.
This isn’t a one-off case. Last month the Taliban used a six year old child in Ghazni province in an attempt to stage a suicide attack on the Americans. The boy asked for help from Afghan soldiers who discovered that he had been rigged with a suicide vest.
In April a video was released that showed Taliban militants instructing a 12 year old boy as he beheaded an alleged traitor. The boy was taped holding aloft the severed head while his Taliban audience looked on with approval.
The Taliban claim to be representatives of sharia law – a law they regard as morally superior to anything the West has to offer, and yet their treatment of children is an offense to the teachings of the Qu’ran and to fundamental human decency. It seems they place no moral limit on what they are prepared to do in order to achieve their objectives.
Next month, Canada’s famed Royal 22nd Regiment, the Van Doos, will take over the battle group in Kandahar. Many Canadians are dubious though that the nation’s confidence level can be restored.
PM Harper has been feeling the heat and has backed off his “no cut-and-run” rhetoric. Depending upon the will of Parliament, he may consider ending Canada’s combat role when the current mission expires in February 2009.
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