UK and the world must focus again on the plight of Afghanistan

Two years after the Taliban's takeover, King Charles's former interpreter Nazir Ayeen says the world shouldn't forget his country

Afghan interpreter Nazir Ayeen. Photo: Nazir Ayeen
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The evacuation of Afghans who worked with UK, US and Nato countries after the collapse of Kabul to the Taliban was a historic disgrace both for Afghanistan and the international community.

Both the UK and US did not prepare properly to avoid the utter chaos that ensued and it showed how much Afghans hated the Taliban, that they were even prepared to risk their life climbing on the aircraft rather than live under their rule.

We have terrible memories from their previous regime and yet the group is proving it has not changed.

They are a single-minded authoritarian, extremist group and their government tramples on the rights of ethnic minorities and refuses to share power.

Now, sadly I believe the plight of Afghans, both in the UK and back home, has taken a backseat as the war in Ukraine has been given priority by the international community, which has forgotten Afghanistan.

It is of course terrible that Russia invaded Ukraine, but the Taliban has also trampled the values of 35 million people by occupying Afghanistan. And while thousands of Afghans were evacuated by the UK and US, it does not mean that those who are at risk of being targeted by the Taliban were evacuated.

Many of those eligible are left behind in Afghanistan, and that includes labourers.

Unfortunately, there is a view that Afghanistan is a matter for Afghans themselves whereas Ukraine is an international concern.

This shows that the world, especially the US, has displayed political double standards.

The Taliban gained success in Kabul and took power as the result of the Doha agreement signed by the Trump administration then later implemented by Joe Biden.

The world has abandoned Afghans and have forgotten the two decades of sacrifices Afghans made for democracy, and Western values.

Unlike Ukrainians, when it comes to their treatment in the UK, Afghans are having major problems, such as housing and issues of resettlement.

Finding suitable housing is difficult for Afghans but it is up to the government to find a solution to help this category of people.

The UK government could offer Afghans the same scheme offered to Ukrainians in order for them to find suitable housing and feel part on the community in the UK.

Many Afghans who arrived in the UK are suffering from psychological and psychiatric problems due to their uncertain future. Yet so far Rishi Sunak is following Conservative Party policy towards Afghans and Afghanistan.

He hasn’t had any creative plans for Afghan interpreters and refugees, lacks a proactive policy and hasn’t had anything outstanding on Afghanistan and the Taliban.

Mr Sunak is busy on Ukraine and election campaigns but must show seriousness and assertiveness.

As the Prime Minister of a country at the heart of global affairs, he must bring pressure on Taliban to respect democracy and human rights, in particular those of women.

Yet the UK’s policy towards Afghanistan helps the Taliban regime strengthen further.

Afghans expect more from the UK due to the historic relationship between the two countries.

The UK could do a lot more in Afghanistan, based on its knowledge and understanding of that part of the world.

Britain must use its influence through Pakistan, India and Qatar to make life better in Afghanistan before its descent into chaos causes problems in the region and even the wider world.

Experience has proved that negligence can result in war in Afghanistan and destabilisation of the region and the world. Afghanistan is in deep economical and humanitarian crisis, and the situation is deteriorating every day, which Human Rights Watch says must take Afghanistan seriously.

The UK must stand against the Taliban’s harsh treatment of ethnic minorities and former government officials.

While this might not seem like an immediate problem it will have dangerous consequences for the region and wider world.

Published: August 14, 2023, 7:18 PM