Afghanistan – House of Lords debate

Aug 18, 2021 | Featured parliamentary activity, Uncategorized

In Parliament today I was struck that twenty years after 9:11 we have given the Taliban a free pass and opened the way for a new wave of terror – inspired by a medieval theocratic ideology that cherishes violence, degrades women, trades in lethal drugs, persecutes minorities, and stones people to death because of social offences. It’s a terrible betrayal. We’ve squandered lives, treasure, and hope.

Free societies do not evolve overnight. If you aren’t committed to the long haul don’t intervene in the first place.

House of Lords
18th August 2021

Reference has been made to the International Relations and Defence Select Committee Report on Afghanistan published in January. Negligently, it’s prescient recommendations and conclusions have never been debated.

The Report excoriated the Government for showing
”little inclination to exert an independent voice…” and criticised the US for “undermining NATO unity.”

It warned that troop withdrawal
“runs contrary to the UK’s objective of securing a durable negotiated settlement” which had “the potential to further destabilise the security situation in Afghanistan.

So let no one suggest that no one foresaw or predicted the consequences of an ill considered withdrawal.

As we look to the future we now need to belatedly seek urgent strengthening of a coordinated and coherent NATO approach.

This must include a united response rejecting the international recognition of their legitimacy which the Taliban craves and likely to be given by China, Russia and Pakistan ?

Such recognition should never be given while female university students, women journalists, the 250 women judges – and minorities – like the Hazaras and Christians and countless others go in fear of their lives.

As Afghanistan now becomes a global terrorist academy, and they give sanctuary, training, and funding to terror groups, we must also steadfastly ignore the Taliban’s public relations insistence that they are not labelled as terrorists.

The Select Committee pointed to Taliban links to Al-Qaeda and the Haqqani Network and called for an urgent review of the Home Office failure – unlike other Five Eyes countries – to include Islamic State Khorasan Province on its list of proscribed terrorist organisations

Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former distinguished ambassador to the United States, who gave evidence to the Select Committee said this week “ what is happening in Kabul will not stay in Kabul. Radical Islamists, armed with the powerful narrative of driving out two superpowers through jihad, will challenge the American-led order across much of the Muslim world,”

And beyond that world the House should note the recent pact made between the Taliban and the Chinese Communist Party and which increasingly threatens Taiwan.

60% of Afghanistan’s economy is made up of aid. Will we follow Germany and make aid conditional on no revenge killings, no imprisonment of political opponents, and girls schools remaining open? How will aid to be channelled through reputable NGOs and not be embezzled by the Taliban.

When will we sever the money supply from the Taliban’s Opium War which provides 65%. its income and accounts for 95% of the heroin on British streets.

The Taliban often say “you have the clocks, we have the time.”

We need to prove them wrong.

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