A Crown corporation that reports to Parliament through the foreign minister, the International Development Research Centre, broadly aligns its positions with Canada's international objectives. IDRC funds various journalism initiatives and development journalism prizes. Canada's aid agency has also doled out tens of millions of dollars on media initiatives over the years.
Militaries come and go, regimes rise and fall. But the social change that comes from education is irreversible. Every teacher capable of inculcating curiosity in a young mind, every individual who persists in questioning, every student who learns new ideas and spreads them to others, is a menace to the Taliban's plans.
One of the main barriers that prevents Afghan women from entering the labuor force are traditional beliefs and biased views that women should be housewives and mothers rather than breadwinners. There is a stigma around families where the mother or daughter earns money and women's potential and abilities are severely suppressed.
Zabi had been doing this job -- working with foreign journalists -- for almost 15 years, and he was used to the rhythm and requirements of our work. He was astute, often one step ahead of us, and knew how to trouble-shoot a shoot if an element of a story fell through. There was always someone he knew or could call to help us out of a jam.
Pregnancy during war, natural disaster, or economic collapse isn't simply a time of joy and wonder; it's often tainted with anxiety and fear. For these women, it's more like nine months of holding the thin red line of courage against almost impossible odds. The strength and resilience needed to do this is astounding.
Eight years ago, the National Directorate of Security in Afghanistan saved my life. I was being held hostage by a gang of criminals who were threatening to sell me to the Taliban. I will forever be in his debt, but I was also impressed by the smarts and savvy of this young intelligence chief. If Afghanistan had politicians of his character, I thought, the country's future was in decent hands.
The lessons of Afghanistan were purchased at a bitter cost: the war claimed more lives, more years, and more money than any other campaign in NATO's history. Unless the alliance takes those lessons to heart, a war in Syria and Iraq to extinguish Daesh -- the self-styled "Islamic State" -- will be worse. In any military campaign against Daesh, how will we identify effective allies on the ground, who are less pernicious than our common enemy? How will we ensure that neither chaos nor tyranny fill the vacuum left after a successful campaign? Whom will Syrians be able to trust to rebuild their country?
The coordinated killings that rocked Paris over the weekend are an unspeakable horror. But we must not allow the horrific nature of this atrocity to drag Canada back into the racism, Islamophobia and war-mongering that characterized our last government. The burden to hold firm on the change that we demanded in the October election is jointly shared between Canadians and our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
There is simply no compatibility between humanitarian action and the use of military force in combat. One has as its singular objective the alleviation of human suffering, regardless of the sufferer's identity or affiliation; the other, by definition, involves taking the side of one group against the other. That's also why it is very worrying to hear that humanitarian assistance is being used as strategic tactic in military action.