In the House of Commons debate on Afghanistan today, Jason remembered our brave local servicemen and women - their sacrifice wasn’t in vain.
Jason McCartney MP
We are leaving Afghanistan. We can debate why we are leaving, and indeed whether we should be, but for now I want to focus on the here and now—what we need to be doing right now.
First up, we need to secure Kabul airfield. We need to prevent those scenes that we saw at the weekend of civilians falling from aircraft undercarriages. We need to allow for the orderly and, hopefully, safe evacuation of UK nationals, Afghan interpreters and Afghans whose support roles have put them in danger. I thank the Defence Secretary for his quick action on that in deploying 900 British troops who, alongside US troops, have helped to secure the airfield and allow for that orderly evacuation. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hyndburn (Sara Britcliffe) highlighted, we also need to evacuate the team from the Nowzad dogs charity, which was created by Pen Farthing, a former Royal Marines commando.
We also need to put in place a resettlement plan to help women and girls, and those who face immediate danger from the Taliban. Again, the Government have taken quick action on that, and I welcome the announcement this morning by the Home Secretary that we will be resettling 20,000 Afghans back to the UK. We need to put pressure on the Taliban to retain the freedoms of all the people of Afghanistan, but especially women and girls. As the Prime Minister said at the start of the debate, we will judge the Taliban on their actions, not just their words. I had an email overnight from a constituent who has family over in Afghanistan, in a place called Herat. They are in hiding, and they have just been told that this Friday, in Herat sports centre, the Taliban will be chopping off the hands of some local people. We must watch the actions of the Taliban and not just listen to their words.
Finally, as a former RAF serviceman who served not in Afghanistan, but on the no-fly zone over northern Iraq, I know that we need to reassure our veterans—those who bear the physical and mental scars—and the families of those who died in Afghanistan that we care and that their achievements were not in vain.
Our forces fundamentally weakened the terrorist threat. There has been education in Afghanistan for 20 years. That most definitely sowed the seeds for a better future for Afghanistan, but it came at huge cost. I lost in my constituency Private Thomas Wroe, Lance Corporal Graham Shaw, Captain Lisa Head from Huddersfield, Corporal Jake Hartley, Private Anthony Frampton and Private Daniel Wilford. Those families and our veterans have heard us loud and clear today. We do care, and we care for Afghanistan.