The Christian Reformed Church in Canada is giving less priority to the peace building effort in Afghanistan.
The CRC in Canada speaks to the government via the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue (formerly known as Committee for Contact with the Government). For the past five years, since 2006, the Afghanistan file has been one of the group’s two core issues.
But now, according to Centre director Mike Hogeterp, they will give it less focus. “Our formal plan is to recommend that Afghanistan be considered a ‘mature issue,’” Hogeterp said, “If and when opportunities arise to address the issue, we will do so. So while we are not dropping this file, it is no longer a core priority.”
The presence of Canada in Afghanistan has been costly—both in lives and dollars. The change from combat to training has been welcomed by many Canadians.
Hogeterp noted, “As far back as late 2009, I began hearing a consistent message that the Canadian public was not interested in the complexities of peace building in Afghanistan—this impression was common among, but not exclusive to, government MPs.”
Hogeterp has addressed the House of Commons special committee on Afghanistan about these issues, most recently in November. Along with John Siebert of Project Ploughshares, Hogeterp told MPs that it is important to support Afghans as they implement participatory reconciliation programs and responsive governance at district and local levels, and that the international community needs to give significant new attention to diplomatic efforts to end the war.
“The goal of national negotiations ought to be the creation of an inclusive political order in Afghanistan. It must include the Taliban and other insurgents and address the legitimate fears that a new political order will compromise the hard-won expansion of civil and other human rights in Afghanistan,” he said.
Hogeterp noted that setting aside the Afghanistan file is very disquieting. “Suspending this work now feels premature, like we are letting down people in Afghanistan. There are no solutions for this kind of disquiet.”