Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christopher Alexander in Waterloo December 18

December 18-06
Christopher Alexander is one of the two Deputy Special Representatives of the Secretary General for Afghanistan appointed by Secretary General Kofi Annan. Mr. Alexander is responsible for political issues, including continuing electoral and parliamentary issues, as well as issues related to peace and stability, security sector reform, and human rights.

Christopher Alexander served as Ambassador of Canada to Afghanistan from August 2003 until October 2005. Prior to this assignment he was Minister Counsellor at the Canadian Embassy in Moscow from 2000 to 2003 and served as second secretary at the same mission from 1993 to 1996. He has also served at Foreign Affairs headquarters in Ottawa as deputy director responsible for Canada's bilateral relations with Russia and as Assistant to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Alexander joined the Canadian Foreign Service in 1991. He received a BA from McGill University in Montreal in history and politics in 1985 and an MA from Balliol College at Oxford University in England in philosophy, politics and economics in 1991. Mr. Alexander was chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 2005.

Meeting Christopher Alexander was a true honour. As an eloquent and highly intelligible speaker, he opened the windows to the understanding of Canadian presence in Afghanistan.

He says, the achievements of reconstruction projects are too often lost in reports of bloodshed and violence, giving an impression of inevitable failure. "The news is always bad. You can build 500 kilometres of superhighway in places that never had roads before, or build cold storage for the farmers of Kandahar that improves their lives tremendously. But it's one roadside bomb that gets all the attention."

Alexander, 37, admits there's a shortage of good news in Afghanistan, five years after the overthrow of the Taliban.

In a recent raid on a bomb-making factory by the Afghan army, 40 potential suicide bombs were neutralized, he pointed out. "In a (recent) two-week period ... there had been 13 suicide bombings. This week the number was zero. It shows that if there is will and intelligence capability, the Taliban can be defeated."
Allegations that Pakistan is harbouring and training extremist fighters should be answered if the ."
Military operations shouldn't detract from desperately needed development and reconstruction efforts, Alexander said. "We chose a strong military commitment to Afghanistan on the basis of principles that are recognized as the right ones. We have a huge and under-recognized reconstruction commitment, too. But we still need to do more. To get the job done we have to ensure that the balance between development and military efforts is right."
If Canadian support for Afghanistan wavers, there is a danger of losing hearts and minds, he warned.
"The Canadian quality of stubbornness comes in handy at this time. We have had some success. Do we want to quit now? "There is a justifiable debate about which direction we should go in – but not a question about why we are there." The Star

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