Afghanistan: FCDO Update - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:24 pm on 7th September 2021.

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Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) 9:24 pm, 7th September 2021

My Lords, I cannot speak for the people of Afghanistan on what they perceive about their previous Government or indeed the Taliban Government. I can say that of course we recognise that the previous Government of Afghanistan were not without major shortcomings, some of which the noble Lord mentioned. He mentioned troops not being paid, and that is a fact. Morale is also done through leadership. One of the challenges that we saw though the events that unfolded in Afghanistan, particularly in the last few days in Kabul, is about when there is no structure—not only not being paid—and no specific command structure. I cannot speak for a trooper guarding a gate and I have never served in the military, but if I was there as a volunteer, I would have been asking: what is my role right now? That was very clear to many, and that is why we saw what happened in Kabul.

I suppose there was a glimmer of hope there in that thankfully, thus far—I add that caveat quite specifically —we have not seen the bloodshed due to an internal civil war that it was perceived would occur. However, again, as I said earlier, the situation is fluid and we do not know what will emerge. We had the situation in the Panjshir Valley earlier this week as well, with Mr Massoud still holding out. However, we have all seen the announcement of the new Government and “inclusive” certainly does not describe them.