This is from the Canadian Press. Whatever Khalid's failings one that should be stressed is his lack of proper bowing and scraping before his foreign helpers! Rightly, he complains about the air attacks masterminded by bomber McNeil the head of the NATO mission. These attacks have resulted in many civilian casualties. He correctly warned Canadians about venturing into Spin Boldak.
Harper made it clear he doesn't stand for hoof and mouth disease among his ministers:
OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper publicly criticized his foreign affairs minister yesterday for creating a "misimpression" that the governor of Kandahar should be fired for corruption.
(From the Province)
Afghan ire forces Bernier to backtrack on call to sack governor
7 hours ago
OTTAWA — Maxime Bernier was forced to briskly retract his call for the removal of Kandahar's governor after the Afghan government pointedly asked Ottawa for "clarification" of the foreign affairs minister's remarks, The Canadian Press learned Monday.
Bernier, who is Canada's top diplomat, ended his visit to the war-torn country by publicly suggesting that Afghan President Hamid Karzai replace Asadullah Khalid.
Even though the governor has fought off accusations of being linked to the rampant corruption that plagues the impoverished region, Bernier's public political advice to a democratically elected sovereign ally was seen as an embarrassing gaffe.
The foreign affairs minister hurriedly issued a statement from his returning aircraft that was seen as an attempt to quell suggestions he was meddling in Afghan affairs.
Afghanistan's ambassador to Canada, Omar Samad, said the minister's explanation has been accepted.
"Any doubt that was created by what was quoted has been clarified (and) if there's any misunderstandings, they have been cleared up," Samad told The Canadian Press.
He said the "special nature" of Canada's relationship with his country and the fact that 83 Canadians have died in the fight against the Taliban have tempered any potential sense of insult.
But Samad was quick to add a caution.
"There are of course bounds and boundaries that need to be respected by all sides," he said.
"I don't think interference in our sovereign matters is what the intention of any of our friends is because they know very well Afghans are sensitive to that."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper rejected opposition calls for Bernier's resignation and expressed regret that the comments Khalid were made in public rather than private. But he pointedly stood by the substance of the criticism.
"We have talked to the government of Afghanistan from time to time about performance of that government about some of our concerns and we'll continue to express those concerns privately," he said in Winnipeg.
Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said Bernier should never have been given such a critical portfolio.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe, who has often ridiculed Bernier across the floor of the Commons, chimed in, saying "this isn't any old mistake."
New Democrat MP Paul Dewar said Bernier has undermined Karzai's credibility while simultaneously setting back efforts to address concerns about Khalid.
If Karzai had been planning to replace the controversial governor, he won't be able to do it now, Dewar said.
"We've put Karzai in this trap where he's not wanting to be seen as a puppet by his own population.
"Instead of assuring people in Afghanistan that we have a clear idea what we're doing, he'll have to spend time now making up for this intervention."
Khalid is rapidly becoming a lightning rod for Kandahar residents and Canadian authorities, who initially praised his gung-ho attitude in dealing with Taliban militants.
He has been implicated in the ongoing prisoner abuse scandal - a charge he vehemently denied.
The relationship with Canadian civilian authorities has been strained since Khalid denied he had been upbraided by Defence Minister Peter MacKay over the handling of Taliban prisoners.
Khalid, who is appointed and serves at the pleasure of the president, is in charge of all provincial jails, where human rights groups claim torture has taken place.
Many of the corruption allegations against him relate to the U.S.-backed poppy eradication campaign.
Farmers whose fields have been targeted often say friends of the governor are left alone - claims that have not been proven.
Khalid has also been a thorn in the side of NATO commanders, repeatedly criticizing air strikes that have led to civilian casualties. He angered Canadian commanders after saying a suicide attack in the border town of Spin Boldak could have been prevented had Canadian troops stayed within their compound while Afghan forces searched for the bomber.
Stephen Saideman, a McGill University expert in international studies, said the refocusing of Canada's mission towards development is contributing the growing rift with the governor.
"It's pretty clear his interest and attention is on the security side of things, said Saideman, who toured Kabul and Kandahar in December.
"Broadcasting that Canada is trying to get this guy replaced is absolutely the wrong thing to do."
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