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“Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan. So, why Afghanistan?”
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“Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan. So, why Afghanistan?”

As US President Barack Obama says his government intends to start withdrawing soldiers from Afghanistan by the end of the year, there is growing uncertainty as to Australia’s purpose in the international coalition, writes Amanda McClintock, 19, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Queensland.

After the death of three more Australian soldiers in Afghanistan, there is no doubt that the public will be reconsidering their support behind the war there. Add to this the high number of injuries and the fact that PM Julia Gillard has had more soldiers die on her watch than former Prime Ministers John Howard or Kevin Rudd and it is clear where this doubt may be coming from.

As US President Barack Obama says his government intends to start withdrawing soldiers from Afghanistan by the end of the year, there is growing uncertainty as to Australia’s purpose in the country. The war on “terror” has risen to impractical and dangerous proportions with the latest deaths, including seven wounded and one killed Afghan translator in the attack by an Afghan national army soldier during a regular parade.

In a press conference on Sunday, the Prime Minister said “our partners in the Afghan national army are shocked and horrified by what has occurred. The people of Afghanistan are trying to build a nation. A nation free of violence and free of fear. We know the act of this Afghanistan member was not in the interests of the people of Afghanistan.”

However, based upon public opinion and the views of media in attendance, there is more that needs to be done and the public want our troops out of there as soon as possible. “An apology from the Prime Minister is not sufficient for the families who have lost their loved ones in a war that we have no proof of as being necessary,” one lady said when asked about the response of PM Gillard to the attack.

As the Prime Minister hides behind phrases such as “we cannot judge the progress of our mission by this one dreadful incident” and “we can’t allow our will to be undermined by the kinds of attacks that are aimed at corroding trust,” public unrest is growing and people are becoming more vocal about their opinions.

For a government already at odds with the polls, sweeping this under the rug as a “dreadful incident” with no further action is not good enough. Many people are beginning to question the truth behind Australia’s presence in Afghanistan. After Osama Bin Laden was found and killed in Pakistan it begs the question – why are we in Afghanistan?

Whilst there is no simple answer to this question, we must remain  hopeful that the leaders of our country know what they are doing and we must think solely about how we can help the people and families affected by this tragedy. It can be expected that the issue of withdrawing Australian soldiers in line with American soldiers will be featured prominently in the media and in public discussion over the next few weeks and any further attacks of any nature on Australian forces will only reinforce these opinions and fears already held by the public.

We send our love, prayers and condolences to the families who have lost their sons, husbands, fathers and friends in the war on terror and we send our encouragement that we are behind them and support them 100% as they go through this challenging time.

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About me:

“I am a working-class girl, full-time university student and mental health advocate from sunny south-east Queensland.

“Living in a small country town after growing up in the city only increased my passion for making a difference in my community and further afield, and for speaking up about the issues that matter most. Youth have a voice and it needs to be heard. Stand Up, Speak Up and Be Heard!”

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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