Afghanistan

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th May 1988.

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Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North 12:00 am, 4th May 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are the implications for Her Majesty's Government's policy towards relations with Afghanistan after the Afghanistan settlement; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Howe Mr Geoffrey Howe , East Surrey

We welcome the Geneva agreement of 14 April and the prospect of withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, but the regime in Kabul remains a Soviet client. We therefore have no plans to raise the level of our dealings with it.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the remarkable generosity and steadfastness of the Pakistani Government in giving homes to no fewer than 5 million Afghan refugees should now be recognised? What can he do to establish the reintegration of those people into Afghanistan, as they wish to be integrated, but on their own terms as practising Muslims, not as Communist sympathisers? What account will he take of Amnesty International's serious condemnation of the present dealings of the Afghan and Soviet Governments with Afghans seeking to leave Afghanistan in recent years?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Howe Mr Geoffrey Howe , East Surrey

I agree that we must admire the generosity and steadfastness of the Pakistani Government in providing homes for the millions of refugees who fled the brutal war that resulted from the Soviet invasion.

I have, of course, seen the reports of the latest allegations by Amnesty International, and it must be said that they echo the reports of the United Nations special rapporteur in 1988. He portrayed a betrayal of basic human rights on a dramatic scale, with over 14,000 civilian deaths last year, 3,000 political prisoners admitted by the regime, and torture still being used in interrogations. The Soviet withdrawal is directed towards bringing an end to that. Plainly, that withdrawal must be followed by the best possible way of enabling the Afghan people—including the refugees—to exercise their right of self-determination and of establishing a Government acceptable to them all.