Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, gentlemen. It's been a very informative and frank conversation. It's been one of the better presentations.
I will not dwell too much on the developmental side, but I will point out that most of the work that is being done in Afghanistan relates to human rights. Whether it's education, economic capacity-building, community development and infrastructure, health, clearing of mines, eventually rule of law, supporting of the Afghan National Police, freedom of expression, they all fall under the same category of providing a building capacity towards human rights, of providing human rights in different fields, in different areas.
I am a little perplexed that we focus on one area and not appreciate the rest. I want to compliment the government for increasing over $200 million of aid towards development. It is a difficult country, if we can call that a country. It is a difficult task. I would suggest that we need not only look at the grass and the bushes, but also look at the forest. Look at the country as a whole as to what has been achieved.
By no means am I saying this is great, everything's been perfect--not at all. But we should at the same time not diminish the efforts of the international community, and particularly of Canada. When I visited Afghanistan I met the minister of rural development and I was delighted to see that the Canadian PRT people were taking that minister out to areas where the Afghan government did not have the ability to go. In those dangerous areas the Canadians were out there helping the minister.
Also, when I met with General McNeill, who was the ISAF commander at that time, he had tremendous praise for Canadians. He said we are one of the only people...that the development people move along with the military as far as Kandahar is concerned. We can laugh or joke about these things, but we must not forget that without the establishment of order there can be no security, and with no security there can be no human rights that we all want.
Without much further ado--I don't have a whole lot of time, but I could speak a lot--I have a question for Mr. Kippen as well as Mr. Capstick.
You mentioned the elections in Pakistan. Since 1947 there have been three dictatorships and several governments, as you know. I think the people of Pakistan have sent a very clear signal. Whenever there is a free and fair election, which this one, I think, was--maybe not 100%, but to a great degree--the religious parties, the fundamentalist parties, have been rejected completely, which is a wonderful thing. The government has been voted out; the secular parties have won. I think at this time we should also give a little credit to the new chief of the army staff, General Kayani, who instructed all corps commanders and intelligence agencies, right down to people working as nasims, as we call them--mayors in small places--that if anybody intervenes he will take very serious action against them, particularly the military. Therefore they will only be there to assist and maintain law and order; they will not intervene. That is one of the key reasons we had this election.
What I'd like to ask you, Mr. Kippen, is what the next step should be.
And very quickly, Colonel, we abandoned Afghanistan back in 1989, which I think has brought us to this stage today. What would happen to Afghanistan if we abandoned it today?