OTTAWA—When I was just out of high school in 2013, I had the opportunity to meet and sit down in a hotel conference room in Ottawa with Afghan leader Hanif Atmar. At the time, he had held several positions within the Afghanistan government including education minister, interior minister, and most recently national security adviser. I had read his bio prior to meeting with him, which allowed me to learn about the different portfolios he held. I shook his hand and told him what I was doing in Canada, that I had completed school, and that I was volunteering in the non-profit sector with Oxfam Canada.
My uncle and my father attended a meeting the next day with me to see Atmar at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Ottawa. So we sat with him and heard about his involvement in detail under former president Hamid Karzai’s government and so forth. He was quite critical of Karzai.
Today, Atmar is running as a candidate in the presidential election in Afghanistan. The election has been delayed several times by Ashraf Ghani, the current president. Ghani is running his own government without much support from anyone in Kabul. Consequently, Atmar left his position with Ghani.
The next leader who I find to be actively involved in the political sphere of Afghanistan is Qazi Amin Waqad. He is a peace supporter and a member of the Afghanistan’s High Peace Council. I met Waqad in Kabul on my visit in 2017 and I found him to be friendly, warm, and interested in moving the peace agenda to the next level; not only on the government level, but as well from the civilian level.
I explained to him that we should work on a peace conference in Afghanistan together, and he was interested, and asked me to give him a proposal outlining the peace strategy and expenditure. But, at the time, I was also in contact with the Indian Embassy in Kabul where I was hoping to get funding for a peace conference in Kabul. The embassy did not support the idea of a peace conference in Kabul in the end and I was not impressed that it turned down such a project.
As an Afghan-Canadian citizen, I know that developing good relationships takes a long time, however, I went above the ordinary person—to push for what is right for my Afghan country people. Some opened their arms and others just couldn’t do anything due to their policies.
The leaders of today and tomorrow are in Afghanistan, and they will work hard to bring peace and stability. I will continue to do the same.
Meladul Haq Ahmadzai is an Afghan-Canadian and peace activist who lives in Ottawa.
The Hill Times
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