I am deeply shocked and appalled by what we are now seeing in Afghanistan. This should not be happening and it appears there has been a catastrophic misjudgement by the United States in withdrawing their forces too soon and without the preparation that was clearly required.
I recognise the need to withdraw western forces from Afghanistan. Our presence in Afghanistan could not go on indefinitely, but it needed to be handled in the right way. It clearly has not been and President Biden will need to account for his actions.
My thoughts and prayers at the moment are for those British servicemen who have lost their lives attempting to bring freedom and democracy to the Afghan people and also those who have been left with life changing injuries. Their sacrifices must not be in vain.
I also weep for the people of Afghanistan who now face rule by a brutal Islamic regime which has shown no regard for human rights. Many innocent people will now undoubtedly be murdered, and many more will suffer unimaginable tragedies.
This is a sad day for humanity.
I visited Afghanistan in 2010 to meet our troops and visit political leaders in Kabul, including the then President Kasi. I was struck by how much progress was being made to turn the country into a better place, as the people were given the opportunity to live in a free society. I feel deeply sad to see what is now happening. My heart goes out to the good people of that country who deserve better than the cruel ideology of the Taliban.
However, we must also remember the reason that the United Kingdom and the United States originally entered the conflict after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. The original mission, to defeat al-Qaeda, has been achieved and the wicked terrorist Bin Laden and his criminal gang have been taken out and rightly so.
We must honour those who fought to make the world safer by going to Afghanistan and achieved the main objective, however I also understand those who are questioning whether their sacrifices were worthwhile given this final outcome and return to Taliban rule.
I feel that this conflict has ended in humiliation for the west and I fear for what the Taliban will mean for hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan.
The past two decades of social progress is now likely to be wiped out in a matter of days. If their previous period of rule is anything to go by, women will no longer be able to work or leave the house unaccompanied, girls will be unable to attend school and the country will return to extreme Islamic law with brutal punishment.
Sadly, it seems clear that the American withdrawal of troops will have a significant toll on human life and I am especially concerned for the Afghans who helped the British and allied forces who are now facing persecution and murder.
I believe that the Government has a moral duty to provide refuge and safety for those who are fleeing for their lives due to their cooperation with the United Kingdom and we must assist them in leaving the country if their lives are in peril.
I welcome that the Prime Minister has already chaired an emergency COBRA meeting and spoken with NATO and the United Nations and I understand he will be hosting a meeting of the G7 to coordinate the international response to prevent a humanitarian and refugee crisis.
I also understand that a refugee policy scheme will be announced very shortly and I will be urging the Government to provide safety to those whose lives are at risk because of their cooperation with the United Kingdom and support for the British and allied forces. However, this must only be a staging post, before a long term plan of where they will eventually live is settled.
There are many countries in the world who must play their part in helping to accommodate Afghans who cannot return to Afghanistan. Britain must fulfil its moral duty, but the global community must do so as well.
Refugees that come the U.K. cannot all expect to remain here permanently, so plans for resettlement in third countries must also be considered.
As a British Member of Parliament, I am of course concerned that British nationals currently in Afghanistan get out of the country safely and I fully support this Government’s emergency actions to support these people and urgently bring them home.
The situation in Afghanistan continues to change rapidly and I will be following closely all further developments as news comes out of Kabul.
We can only hope that a complete humanitarian and refugee crisis, costing thousands of lives can be averted as we pray for the safety of all people whose lives are now in danger in this troubled nation of Afghanistan.