UK Prime Minister Recalls Parliament From Summer Recess Over Afghanistan
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has requested MPs come back from summer recess to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, parliamentary authorities confirmed on Sunday.
They said the request has been granted by Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle.
On Sunday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani relinquished power as the Taliban entered Kabul, according to Interior Minister Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal, who confirmed there would be a transfer of power. Ghani reportedly left the country on Sunday.
“The Speaker of the House of Commons has granted a request from the government to recall the House at 9:30 a.m.—2:30 p.m on Wednesday, August 18 in relation to the situation in Afghanistan,” parliamentary authorities said in a statement.
Ministers and senior officials would meet on Sunday afternoon to discuss the worsening situation, Downing Street said.
It came as Britain and other Western countries were scrambling to get their remaining nationals out of the country before it was too late.
The lead elements of a 600-strong UK force—including Paras from 16 Air Assault Brigade—were understood to be in the capital to assist with the operation.
The Taliban insisted that there would be no reprisals against Afghans who had worked for the government or for foreign countries and that they were seeking a peaceful transfer of power.
However, such assurances were greeted with scepticism by Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Tugendhat, who said the priority had to be to get as many people as possible out of Kabul.
“This isn’t just about interpreters or guards. This is about those people who we trained in special forces to serve alongside us, those who helped us to understand the territory through our agencies and our diplomats,” Tugendhat told BBC News.
“This is the people who, on our encouragement, set up schools for girls. These people are all at risk now,” he said.
“The real danger is that we are going to see every female MP murdered, we are going to see ministers strung up on street lamps.”
Defence Committee chair Tobias Ellwood called for the dispatch of the Royal Navy carrier strike group to the region and urged the prime minister to convene an emergency conference of “like-minded nations” to see what could be done.
“I plead with the prime minister to think again. We have an ever-shrinking window of opportunity to recognise where this country is going as a failed state,” he told Times Radio.
“We can turn this around but it requires political will and courage. This is our moment to step forward,” Ellwood said.
“We could prevent this, otherwise history will judge us very, very harshly in not stepping in when we could do and allowing the state to fail.”
In response to accusations of betraying Afghanistan, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Saturday that “what comes next should not overshadow what we did during those 20 years.”
“And let’s look at other failed states where we did not intervene, such as Syria. The scale of suffering and terror in that country tragically surpasses anything Afghanistan has experienced,” Wallace wrote in an opinion article published in The Telegraph.
Wallace, who has been sceptical about the hasty withdrawal of Western military from Afghanistan, said he had tried to rally countries to stay in the country after the United States announced its withdrawal but had no success, as “weary publics and parliaments in country after country had no appetite.”
He argued that the United Kingdom can’t unilaterally go back to Afghanistan as some have suggested.
“A unilateral force would very quickly be viewed as an occupying force and, no matter how powerful the country that sends it, history shows us what happens to them in Afghanistan,” Wallace wrote.
“It would be arrogant to think we could solve Afghanistan unilaterally.”
Mon, 08/16/2021 – 03:30