The situation in Afghanistan is tragic, and it is clear there has been a terrible miscalculation in the withdrawal of allied forces. The shocking scenes coming out of Kabul demonstrate the depth of desperation and fear felt by many Afghans as the Taliban take control.
It’s vitally important that the Government now does everything in its power to evacuate British citizens, local embassy staff, and those Afghans who so bravely assisted British and allied troops during the 20-year military intervention. My thoughts and prayers are with the many Afghans whose lives and liberties now hang in the balance, and I’m glad the Govt is offering asylum to those fleeing. But the Government must also provide all possible support to those who at risk of persecution at the hands of the Taliban.
This is a terrible time for our servicemen and women who have sacrificed so much over 20 years. We have chosen to leave and I believe this was a colossal mistake. It makes the West look unreliable in the eyes of our allies, and lacking resolve in the eyes of our enemies.
The decision to withdraw troops so rapidly and chaotically pulled the rug from under the feet of the Afghan people. Building a sustainable peace takes commitment – it is highly regrettable that the US decided to withdraw so swiftly at this time, and that the UK has followed suit. This is a crisis for which we share responsibility, and we must do all we can to mitigate the most disastrous of outcomes.
It's absolutely right that the Prime Minister has called a meeting of the G7 to coordinate the international response to the crisis. We must work together to prevent a humanitarian and refugee crisis – and the significant danger of presenting the Taliban with the space and means to consolidate anti-Western sentiment and escalate the threat to ourselves and our international partners.
But now, with great urgency, we must collectively do everything possible to pressure the Taliban – by whatever means – to respect the rights of all Afghan citizens, in particular women and persecuted minorities.