Taliban victim seeks UK haven for his father stuck in Helmand

Jamal Barak's father Shista Gul is missing after Taliban threats

Jamal Barak says he has been unable to contact his father Shista Gul, left, for several days. Courtesy Jamal Barak
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

The son of a former British Army employee in Afghanistan is urging the UK government to let his father settle in the UK.

Jamal Barak, a former military interpreter who now lives in England, says he fears for his father's life, after the British government refused him permission to be relocated to the UK.

Mr Barak says he has been unable to contact his father, Shista Gul, for several days.

Mr Gul, worked as a gardener for the British Army in a military compound in southern province Helmand for seven years.

Now the Taliban have control of Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province, where Mr Gul lives with his wife and three other sons.

“My father worked for the British Army for seven years and put his life at risk,” Mr Barak, 28, told The National.

“The Taliban keep coming every day asking for him. They keep threatening to burn the house down unless they find him. I fear for his life.

“My brother has been killed, I was shot twice, my cousin has been kidnapped, I want the British government to help my father and relocate him as a priority.

“I last spoke to my father three days ago. I've tried to call him but the phones no longer work. I don't know if he has run away or if the Taliban have got him.

Jamal Barak is appealing for the British government to rescue his trapped father. Courtesy Jamal Barak

“The UK needs to give priority to people who worked with the British Army. The people at most risk are the people – like my father – who worked for them.”

Mr Barak came to the UK under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy scheme, due to his work as an interpreter with the British Army for eight years.

He was shot twice by the Taliban while working on missions and entering Taliban-held provinces with British troops.

His father's application for the ARAP scheme was refused on the grounds he did not fit the criteria, as a gardener was not classed as a priority role.

“He has worked for this country, the Taliban will not draw distinctions over him being a gardener instead of an interpreter, like the UK has,” Mr Barak said.

“My father lived 200 metres from the compound and was in the public eye. It's two months since the UK refused my father on the relocation scheme due to him not having an exposed job. But the situation is different now.

“It is so frustrating.”

A certificate given to Shista Gul. Jamal Barak is appealing for the British government to help rescue his father Shista Gul, who was a gardener for the British Army for six years and is now trapped in Afghanistan. Courtesy Jamal Barak

Mr Barak shared with The National his father's commendations from the British Army.

One was a certificate of appreciation which thanked Mr Gul, 46, for his “excellent duties”, another praised him for his “outstanding horticultural support".

Mr Barak said the situation in Afghanistan is worsening and just hours ago spoke with a friend who had witnessed men being taken from their homes and marched to their deaths.

“The situation has deteriorated in the past couple of days.”

“I've just come off the phone with a friend who told me the Taliban have just taken four people to the stadium to hang them,” Mr Barak said.

“It is just getting worse day by day. I just plead with the UK to protect those former employees, like my father.”

Updated: August 18, 2021, 2:59 PM