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Envoy: Great challenges lie ahead for alliance troops in Afghanistan
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08:48, August 28, 2008

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The alliance troops' mission in Afghanistan is a difficult one and things will not improve in one or two years, warned Arif Lalani, Canada's ambassador Wednesday.

As Canada's military commitment to Afghanistan ends in 2011, no miracles can be expected by that time concerning the situation there, he said during an interview with Canadian Television.

"In 2011 I think Canadians should not expect everything in Kandahar will be fixed," he said.

"I think it will look pretty much as it does now, but the key difference will be that Afghan institutions, Afghan army and police and government will actually be in charge and in the lead in building from what we helped them build together over the last few years."

He said Canada has paid a high price and the year ahead is going to be a tough one, but insisted the Canadian Forces are headed in the right direction.

"We have to continue to do what we've been doing, which is build up the Afghan national security forces, provide basic humanitarian assistance and to work on border security," Lalani said.

A recent report in "The New York Times" suggests security has deteriorated in Kandahar City since a spectacular Taliban prison break in June freed 900 prisoners.

Canada's 2500 soldiers are scheduled to pull back in 2011 after the original deployment was extended by two years. The rising fatalities have prompted outcries from the public and opposition parties for an earlier withdrawal. A total of 93 Canadian soldiers have died in Afghanistan since Ottawa first deployed troops in Afghanistan in 2002.


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