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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 February 2007, 09:32 GMT
Canadians debate Afghan pullout
By Owen Clegg
BBC News

A Canadian soldier in Afghanistan (MoD file photo)
Canadian soldiers are in an 'uphill fight'
A Canadian Senate committee says the government should consider withdrawing from Afghanistan unless its Nato allies provide additional troops there.

The Canadian contingent has been involved in some of the heaviest fighting in the volatile south, with 42 troops losing their lives.

Canada has 2,500 troops in Afghanistan and forms the core of Nato operations in the province of Kandahar.

Kandahar has seen some of the heaviest clashes with the Taleban recently.

Only the US and the UK have more troops contributing to the Nato mission in Afghanistan.

'Serious struggle'

It is the fact that more than 40 soldiers have been killed in combat that is testing Canada's minority Conservative government's resolve over this mission.

Map of Afghanistan

Now a Senate committee has suggested that Canada withdraw its troops within 12 months unless there are substantial Nato reinforcements.

Senator Colin Kenny says it is time for Canada's Nato allies to step up and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Canada.

"We think this is an uphill fight. We see it as a serious struggle that we're in and that we're in it for a very long time," Mr Kenny said.

He added that anyone expecting to see the quick emergence of a modern democracy in Afghanistan was "dreaming in Technicolor".

The growing frustration comes as other Nato members, including France, Germany and Italy, limit their operations, keeping them in relatively safe regions of northern Afghanistan, instead of making them available to engage the Taleban insurgents in the south.

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