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ICOS Analysis of Manley report released

6 February 2008

ICOS Analysis of Manley report released

Manley Panel’s endorsement of Poppy for Medicine should prompt Prime Minister to take leadership on Afghan counter-narcotics policies

Panel recommends Canada should adopt Kandahar Hospital as ‘Signature Project’
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Harper should implement the Manley Panel’s recommendations to provide a much-needed road map for Canada’s future role in Afghanistan, said ICOS in an analysis of The Manley Panel Report released on Friday. The main conclusions of the Manley Report, presented to Prime Minister Harper on Tuesday, echoed ICOS’s call for Canada to adopt a new overall strategic approach in Afghanistan.

“Mr Manley has done Canada a great service in providing a much-needed strategic direction,” said Norine MacDonald QC, President and Lead Field Researcher of ICOS. “This blueprint can make a huge difference – it is now up to Prime Minister Harper to provide both the competence and political leadership necessary to make these recommendations reality.”

Manley Panel endorses Poppy for Medicine

MacDonald noted The Manley Panel’s endorsement of Poppy for Medicine projects in Kandahar, which would see farmers being granted a license to grow opium for the production of essential medicines such as morphine.

A series of polls commissioned by Ipsos Reid in 2007 had revealed that 8 in 10 of the Canadian public also supported Poppy for Medicine.

“The Manley Panel has understood that integrating the Afghan farmers into a legal economy would give them a financial incentive to sever ties with the insurgency,” said MacDonald. “This would have dramatically positive repercussions for our troops on the ground and should prompt Prime Minister Harper to take leadership on counter-narcotics policies.

“By continuing to follow failed US-led policies like forced poppy crop eradication, Prime Minister Harper is putting our troops in grave danger. It is time for him to step up to the plate and take some action on Afghan counter-narcotics issues.”

The European Parliament officially endorsed the Poppy for Medicine proposal in October 2007 with an overwhelming majority.

Manley Report calls for full-scale review of CIDA effectiveness in Kandahar

In its analysis, ICOS also noted The Manley Report’s recognition that aid is not getting to where it can impact on the lives of ordinary Afghans in Kandahar, echoing previous concerns raised by the Council about the effectiveness of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in Afghanistan.

According to ICOS’s Canadian Country Director, Almas Bawar Zakhilwal, emergency poverty relief should in particular be prioritised.

“The Manley Panel recommended that CIDA’s procedures be completely revamped, but there is a starvation crisis in Kandahar and the people there need food immediately,” said Bawar Zakhilwal. “As an Afghan and a Canadian, I strongly believe that the Canadian military should be empowered to deliver food and medical aid until CIDA can do so effectively.”

Bawar Zakhilwal also commended The Manley Panel for their proposal of a signature project of the Kandahar hospital. “We have been saying for a long time now that Kandahar’s Mirwais Hospital is in drastic need of refurbishment, equipment and proper medical facilities,” he said. “The Manley Panel has noted that directly addressing the urgent medical needs of the Afghans affected most in this conflict should be a top priority.

“Canada should adopt the Kandahar Mirwais Hospital as its own project. It would be an effective way to win back the hearts and minds of the people of Kandahar, and show them that we are there to help them, which would make conditions for our military infinitely more favourable.”

ICOS congratulated the Manley Panel on the extensive consultation process which led to the important report, and stated that to generate more public involvement and knowledge of the issues encapsulated in the Panel’s report, the Harper government should organise a cross-Canada tour of town hall meetings for the Manley panel, bringing Canadians into the ongoing conversation about Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.

“In many cases what the Manley Panel report says applies to other NATO governments operating in Afghanistan, including the US and the UK in particular. The leaders of these countries would do well to heed the words and recommendations of the Manley panel”, MacDonald said in releasing the analysis.

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