Salma Yaqoob, leader of Respect, appeared on Question Time (10th December) and made a compelling case against the war in Afghanistan.
Salma defended British soliders and innocent Afghan civilians against a war which has been irresponsibly and badly managed, leaving our troops with little protection, security and safety; and which seems to have no end in sight.
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Respect Party leader Salma Yaqoob will be a panelist on this week's Question Time, which will focus on the continuing occupation of Afghanistan. Salma, who chairs Birmingham Stop the War Coalition, will be joined on the panel by three of the major proponents of the war: Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell, shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague and former army chief General Sir Richard Dannatt. The fifth panelist will be journalist Piers Morgan whose brother has fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The BBC has been criticised for selecting a panel who do not represent public opinion on this issue. A recent Independent on Sunday poll revealed that almost three quarters of Britons support full withdrawal within a year or so. By only inviting one panelist out of five who oppose this war, the BBC are guilty once again of stifling anti-war voices and allowing the warmongers to escape proper challenge.
The case for ending the occupation of Afghanistan has never been clearer. Over 30,000 civilians have been killed and more than 230,000 have been displaced by eight years of fighting. The 100th dead British soldier has just returned from Afghanistan in the bloodiest year yet. Public opposition to the war has steadily been growing as people realise that far from making Britain a safer place, the occupation has fuelled hatred and helped terrorists in their recruitment as well as wasted around £12 billion.
Despite this, politicians are not planning to withdraw from Afghanistan. President Obama has just announced the deployment of a further 37,000 US troops and Britain are expected to contribute 500 soldiers to the "surge". This can only result in more misery for the Afghan population as the occupying forces seek to establish a pro-Western state in the strategic central Asian region at any cost.
It is time the politicians listened to the public and brought an end to this expensive mistake. Although the BBC will not allow anti-war leaders to properly put the case on Question Time, the Stop the War Coalition, the Respect Party and the wider anti-war movement will continue to demand an immediate end to the occupation of Afghanistan.