Don't leave former interpreters stranded in Afghanistan

Good for regularly shirtless Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he has a blast photo bombing weddings and surfing with pals.


But not everybody is as free.

Ask Abdul Wasi Sherzai.

If Trudeau is going to give the shirt off his back to anybody, it should be for guys like Abdul who are in need of it.

“There is no security for us in Afghanistan,” Sherzai told me via e-mail from the terror-torn country we as a nation once cared about.

Sherzai cared enough to help our troops as an interpreter.

He doesn’t regret it even if he recently received a letter from Canadian immigration officials saying his application was turned down — largely because of an inability to provide proper paper work.

That kind of red tape works in Canada. Not so much in Afghanistan where homes, schools and government buildings are often burned or bombed to the ground.

People like Sherzai, and his wife and kids, are at risk every moment from the Taliban and ISIS.

“Our life is full of risks in Afghanistan,” he said. “Even my children can’t go to school. They are afraid from Taliban every night. It is a dangerous country for us. Insurgents gave us warning threat letter ... ‘because you worked with unbelievers we are going to kill all members of your family.’”

Of course, they are not kidding. Just last week, 80 people were killed and 231 were hurt in a bombing.

“My children and my wife tell me ‘Please leave this country now,’” he said.

If only it were that easy.

But to be fair to Canadian Citizenship and Immigration, they have been overworked bringing in refugees and have done a good job. Also full marks to Minister John McCallum and Trudeau for seeing through the James Akam case.

Also an interpreter, he was in a refugee camp in Germany and his wife and son were in Afghanistan. They are now in Calgary and thriving.

Another stranded former interpreter to the Canadian troops, Alam Khan, tells me there are up to 100 others who did not receive the benefits of a special program that came to an end not long after we left the country.

I have been told Canada is working on a solution to make sure all connected to the military will have a chance to apply. Reports from Afghanistan show the embassy staff doing what they can. But then comes the same problem Akam ran into.

The rigorous standards make it difficult and because these people are not considered refugees, they don’t get the benefit of the doubt when they fail to produce documents.

What they do have is their military service records and pictures as proof. It puts them in a special category. I’ve written both the minister and prime minister to express this.

By the end of this year, I would like to see all of those remaining who qualify (most will) on Canadian soil with Akam, who vouches for Sherzai.

They earned it.

We can’t leave our interpreters abandoned and left to die. Not acceptable.

I like Trudeau and his act but when he’s doing the selfies or getting the vanity chest shots, there are real things going on, too.

Some of us fought unsuccessfully to prevent Canadian hostages Robert Hall and John Ridsdel from being murdered by terrorists in the Philippines and were not happy with the government’s response.

It did not work out well and while most did not care that they were beheaded. I am hoping for the interpreters who valiantly served our troops, that we get a different response and prevent more death.

So take off your shirt anywhere you like Justin.

But remember there are people out there counting on you who are not having as much fun.

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