"Today's situation is as catastrophic as it was under the domination of the Taliban in most provinces of Afghanistan," Joya said

CTV.ca, Nov. 18 2009

Malalai Joya on CTV
Malalai Joya, author of 'A Woman Among Warlords,' speaks on CTV's Canada AM, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009.

The thousands of NATO forces currently fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan will never bring democracy to the war-torn country, says the youngest person ever elected to the Afghan parliament, who is calling on Canada to withdraw its troops and step up humanitarian aid to the region.

At 25, Malalai Joya was elected to the Afghan parliament, but was suspended in 2007 for criticizing the government. She has since survived four assassination attempts.

Joya's book, "A Woman Among Warlords," chronicles her experience trying to get an education under oppressive Taliban rule and her attempts to serve in a government she says is riddled with corruption.

During an interview with CTV's Canada AM Wednesday, Joya said a protracted war won't rid Afghanistan of corruption and Taliban influence.

"That's why we believe that Canada and other NATO countries follow the wrong policy of the U.S. They just waste their taxpayer money in Afghanistan and the blood of their soldiers," Joya said.

"My message to the great justice-loving people of Canada is that men and women, please join your hands with us, we need your educational support, humanitarian support. We need your honest helping hand. We never want occupation. Occupation (will) never bring liberation."

In her book, Joya not only gives details about her time in government and her life moving from one safe house to another as she avoided those who sought to take her life.

She also takes the reader inside the day-to-day lives of average Afghans, including the ongoing struggle for girls to get an education. Joya was once a schoolteacher, and had to hide books under her burqa so the Taliban wouldn't find them.

Joya says living under the Taliban "was risky" but says those who are in power today are simply the Taliban in another form, and Afghans' everyday lives are still fraught with terror.

US/Canada version of Joya's book

"Today's situation is as catastrophic as it was under the domination of the Taliban in most provinces of Afghanistan," Joya said. "And today by the presence of thousands of troops in Afghanistan, rape cases against women, domestic violence, attacks, killing of women, are increasing rapidly."

Joya says Afghans are caught between two fighting forces: NATO troops and the warlords who control villages and towns throughout the country.

She is calling on U.S. President Barack Obama to reconsider the troop surge to Afghanistan and instead "support democratic-minded people of my country."

But she also calls on Canada to consider pulling its soldiers out of Afghanistan before the Canadian mission is scheduled to end in 2011.

"Canada's government is still following the wrong policy of the U.S. government," Joya said. "I say condolences to those Canadian moms who lost their sons and daughters in my country. But please, change your sorrows and your tears to the strength. Raise your voice against the wrong policy of the U.S. government, because democracy never comes by barrel of gun, by war, by cluster bomb."