With the sun shining brightly overhead and the Hindu Kush mountains of Kabul all around, the Afghan National Police (ANP) honour guard anxiously awaited the arrival of their guests. Making last minute adjustments under the watchful eye of their commander, the young officers were at ease, and ready for the special event. As the guests of honour began to arrive, they snapped to attention, and awaited inspection.
With the Canadian flag flying high overhead, Ron Hoffmann, Canada’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, arrived for the groundbreaking ceremony for this new $11.8million Afghan Border Police Faculty of the Kabul Police Academy, of which Canada contributed $4.5 million. But as is the case with all parts of Canada’s mission, the Canadian flag was not flying alone, as it stood alongside those of Afghanistan and the other project donor, Germany.
As Ambassador Hoffmann reached the end of the honour guard, he was greeted by some of Canada’s 42 civilian police currently serving in Afghanistan, German Ambassador Werner Lauk, and U.S. Brigadier-General Macdonald (one of the top U.S. officials tasked with helping to train the ANP). While awaiting the final attendees, they discussed the importance of this new police facility – vital to the building, and keeping, of peace in Afghanistan.
Then, with the arrival of the final guest, the Honourable Hanif Atmar, Afghan Minister of the Interior and Minister responsible for the ANP, the ceremony began. During his speech, he thanked Canadians for both their military and civilian efforts in Afghanistan and noted that “Afghanistan and its international partners are literally building its future over the foundations of war.” He pointed out that the building was begun in the 1980s, but was left as a skeleton and never completed. As part of the project, it will be rehabilitated to form part of the new faculty – using pieces of a tragic past to build hope for the future.
Ambassador Hoffmann spoke about Canada’s transforming mission in Afghanistan, and how Canada is committed to the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan and strengthening the rule of law. To further articulate his point, he pointed to other examples such as the large increase in Canadian civilian police being deployed to Afghanistan, and the appointment of the first first Canadian Police Commander (CPC) in Afghanistan, Assistant Commissioner Graham Muir. Ambassador Hoffmann finished his remarks by agreeing with Minister Atmar, when he said that strengthening the Afghan National Police is one of the key ways we can all work towards a safer, more secure Afghanistan.
After the speeches, the attendees participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the unveiling of a plaque marking the occasion, as well as a presentation by the facility engineers.