Liberal Defense Minister directed CAF to prioritize Afghan Sikhs over Canadians during Taliban’s takeover of Kabul 

Liberal Defense Minister directed CAF to prioritize Afghan Sikhs over Canadians during Taliban’s takeover of Kabul 

During the chaotic evacuation of Kabul in August 2021, the Liberal’s then-Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan instructed Canadian special forces to rescue approximately 225 Afghan Sikhs, which military sources claim diverted critical resources away from the evacuation of Canadian citizens and Afghans linked to Canada.

Liberal Defense Minister directed CAF to prioritize Afghan Sikhs over Canadians during Taliban’s takeover of Kabul 

The Globe and Mail’s explosive report details the communications Sajjan relayed to the military, giving location details of the Afghan Sikhs during the final hours of the evacuation. 

Described by three of the Globe’s sources as dangerous and desperate, they claimed that the Afghan Sikhs were not considered an operational priority due to their lack of direct ties to Canada.

“The way it was presented to us at first was: If we can do this and pay attention to it, great, but not stopping doing everything else,” one special forces officer stated. “But a day or so later, it came back to us as a firm order. Our leadership was furious. They were very upset.” 

Another source said the directive created confusion and was time-consuming. “Finding them; and getting them through the Taliban checkpoints; linking up – it turned into a telephone game.”

Sajjan says critics are racist

Sajjan, now the Emergency Preparedness Minister, has denied issuing any orders prioritizing the Afghan Sikhs over Canadian citizens or Afghan allies. He defended his actions, stating that his instructions were in line with operational plans.

“I can only surmise that if I did not wear a turban no one would question whether my actions were appropriate,” Sajjan said.

Despite Sajjan’s defense, the operation to rescue the Sikhs, who ultimately left the rendezvous point before being evacuated, was seen as a significant distraction from the primary mission of evacuating those with direct ties to Canada. 

One source described the situation as a “logistical nightmare” that hindered the processing of individuals with Canadian passports.

The Department of National Defence remained vague on the issue, stating that evacuation operations were conducted according to government directives. 

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