NewsWill Britain betray their allies? 200 people face the risk of deportation to danger

Will Britain betray their allies? 200 people face the risk of deportation to danger

British soldiers in Afghanistan. Illustrative picture.
British soldiers in Afghanistan. Illustrative picture.
Images source: © Getty Images | Matt Cardy
ed. PJM

5:56 PM EST, December 11, 2023

About 200 members of the Afghan special forces, who have collaborated with Britain, are in danger of forced deportation from Pakistan to their Taliban-controlled homeland. They seemingly cannot rely on the support of Britain. A general explicitly deems this 'a betrayal'.

The BBC revealed that nearly 200 Afghan special forces members, trained and funded by Britain, are threatened with deportation back to their homeland. These officers sought refuge in Pakistan, which commenced mass expulsion of illegal immigrants last month.

Concerns over the Afghan commandos surfaced after the discovery that the government in London turned down asylum pleas from integral Afghan civilian leaders whose lives are endangered. In March 2022, the BBC obtained a private letter sent to the Foreign Office requesting urgent aid for a group of 32 former governors, prosecutors, and officials. These individuals had worked closely with Britain and the United States during operations in the Afghan province of Helmand between 2006 and 2014.

Like most of the 200 special forces soldiers, these 32 officials applied to relocate to the UK under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Programme (ARAP). The program aims to aid those employed by Britain, and those who "worked in Afghanistan in conjunction with a British government department, assisting or closely supporting it".

The BBC connected with one member of the Afghan special forces currently hidden in Pakistan. "Ali", who served in Commando Force 333, an elite unit established in 2003 by Britain, wasn't eligible for the ARAP program. "Throughout the operations, we fought alongside the British as part of the same family," said Ali, who fled to Pakistan when the Afghan state fell in 2021. "We never anticipated that heroes would be deserted. We embraced all risks, we were set to aid the international community, we respected freedom of speech and human life, but then everything was inverted. It's truly disheartening," Ali expressed. He shared that due to fear of deportation, he's been confined to one room with his wife and five children for the past three months.

The special forces members aren't the only ones left behind. Civilians who assisted Britain received no help either. Mohammad Fahim, former governor of the Garmsir district in Helmand, where Prince Harry served, shared his plight. "We apprehended many Taliban leaders during my governorship," Fahim said. "They were aware that we were combating alongside international forces, hence the threat to me is real," he added. Despite years of close cooperation with British forces, Fahim's asylum plea was denied by the ARAP program. "I feel betrayed. I never thought I would be abandoned," Fahim commented, who is now in hiding in a country abutting Afghanistan.

General Sir Richard Barrons, who served in the British army in Afghanistan for 12 years, told the BBC that the failure to assist Afghan soldiers is a disgrace. "It's a betrayal, and the outcome of this betrayal will be that those who served with us will either die or spend their lives in prison," he said.

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