Monday, March 20, 2006

Kabul Express

If Nasrat Ali had meet his unfortunate demise six months ago, Joe Volpe and Bill Graham would have whipped out the chequebook and rolled out the red carpet for a pre-election photo-op.

Now his family is lucky to get a sheep, because Hallmark doesn't have a "Sorry we whacked your husband" card:

Thank you for the sheep. But can we come to Canada?
That was the response today from the family of Nasrat Ali, the Afghan father of six who was killed by a Canadian soldier on patrol here last week. Semen Gul, Ali’s widow, had said earlier that the family would be asking for $30,000 (US) in compensation from Canada for the loss of their main breadwinner, a man who allegedly had 15 dependants in close kin, including a daughter-in-law and toddler grandson.

But today, Ali’s oldest son, Nisar Ahmed, 22, told the Star through an intermediary that what his family would like most is temporary relocation to Canada, so that the younger children in the family can get a good education.

“We want to go to Canada,’’ said Ahmed. “There is nothing for us here now, especially the younger ones.’’

They would not seek to stay forever.

During the weekend, Canadian military commanders here authorized the purchase of one sheep – $100 (US) at the local market – for the family, as an initial token of regret for the tragedy that occurred when the motorized rickshaw in which Nasrat Ali was travelling was fired upon last Tuesday, allegedly for failing to obey commands that it not approach a parked convoy in Kandahar city.

Heartless as this sounds, what the commanders did is about as much as they should have done.

If the soldier violated the rules of engagement, the military justice system can deal with him.

Civilian deaths will happen in any combat zone, no matter how much effort is put into preventing them. The armed forces should not be put in the uncomfortable position of being sued or shaken down by foreign civilians every time something goes wrong in a war zone.

Leave the matter of compensation between governments, if at all.

There's no such thing as no-fault insurance in a war zone.

Source: Toronto Star

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