LibLink…Paddy Ashdown: Let us not leave Afghanistan with this final gesture of betrayal and dishonour

Paddy Ashdown has written a hard-hitting article for the Yorkshire Post in which he implores the Government to give Afghan interpreters who have helped UK troops the right to come to the UK.

The interpreters and their families live under threat from the Taliban:

These men are different from our troops in this sense: our troops can be sure that their families are home, secure and safe, in Britain, whereas they cannot.

Their families live, day in and day out, threatened by mortal threat from the Taliban in Afghan society.

Our troops come home every six or nine months, whereas they do not. They have served us, day in and day out, month in and month out, year in and year out, yet the Government are havering as to whether they should have the same rights that interpreters had in Iraq.

Paddy then explores why the Government wants them to stay in Afghanistan:

I am told – and it surprised me, because this is where I thought the problem might be coming from – that the Home Office is perfectly content.

I am told that it is coming from Downing Street. I do not know whether that is true.

The Prime Minister has certainly said – and I understand where he is coming from – that he wants these men to stay in Afghanistan, because they have something to contribute there.

I understand that. I remember very well in Bosnia the damage done by the internal brain drain, when salaries paid to those working for the international community so outweighed 
those paid by the local community that, for instance, 
my driver in Afghanistan was getting more than the Prime Minister.

He has no problem with these men being offered a cash sum to stay in Afghanistan but they should have a realistic choice of coming to the UK instead:

I wonder how many peers in the House of Lords would accept £100,000 to leave yourselves at such mortal risk, and leave your family there as well.

If the Government wish to come forward and place a sum of money that expresses the value of their staying in Afghanistan, I am entirely for that, provided that the choice is left to them.

It is time that the Government came clean on this and acted in honour. It is time that we did not continue with this shameful delay in clarifying the position of these men.

You can read the whole article here.

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One Comment

  • As I understand it, Britain is the only Nato country not to offer asylum to their 400 Afghan interpreters. All Iraqi interpreters were offered the option to settle in the UK after troops left and all Gurkha veterans who have served four years or more in the British Army have a right of abode in the UK.

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