UK ‘turns back on’ former Afghan prosecutor hunted by Taliban

A Taliban fighter stands guard as people walk through the old market in the city of Kabul  (AP/File Photo)
A Taliban fighter stands guard as people walk through the old market in the city of Kabul (AP/File Photo)
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Updated 07 May 2022

UK ‘turns back on’ former Afghan prosecutor hunted by Taliban

UK ‘turns back on’ former Afghan prosecutor hunted by Taliban
  • Man who fled to Pakistan targeted by car bomb, threats to family

LONDON: The UK’s Afghan resettlement scheme is failing to support those looking to flee Afghanistan, a former senior prosecutor who lives in fear of his life in neighboring Pakistan has told The Independent.

The man, who is being hunted by the Taliban, has lived in Pakistan for almost 18 months after fleeing his homeland. But he is still being denied resettlement in the UK despite having family members in Britain.

He is “constantly terrified” that underground Taliban networks in the country will locate and kill him. The former director of prosecution for an Afghan province has already been targeted by a car bomb, which he escaped by switching vehicles before it detonated.

He told The Independent that family members back in Afghanistan have received threatening visits and letters.

The former prosecutor living in Pakistan said of the Taliban takeover: “Can you imagine all the prisoners that I had put in prison for their crimes escaping? All the jails were breaking down, and everyone was coming out by themselves. I was scared to death.

“Dealing with the Taliban is a nightmare for all the attorneys. It was unusual for the head of a province to speak to them directly, but I wanted to see if they had regrets for what they did, as many of them are young.

“But it was very difficult because some of them were the most dangerous people — who are proud of killing women and killing children — and they said they would never regret their crimes.

“I had worked for many years serving the people of Afghanistan and it was heartbreaking to see the Taliban takeover. I couldn’t believe what had happened. This was not only the failing of Afghanistan but the failing of our people.

The UK Home Office’s Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme aims to support “vulnerable people and members of minority groups at risk,” but has received significant criticism in the UK.

The program has prioritized Afghans who already traveled to the UK, leaving those still stuck in Afghanistan — including former lawyers, prosecutors, and government workers — at risk of Taliban retribution.

UK charities have warned that the scheme “still offers little or no capacity for those most at risk in Afghanistan or those who have fled into neighboring countries to come to the UK in a safe way.”

The former prosecutor’s nephew, who lives in London after migrating about seven years ago, has contacted the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and Home Office for help.

He organized a phone call from an FCDO official to his uncle in Kabul during the Taliban takeover. But that effort failed when the city’s airport became crowded, preventing his uncle from boarding an aircraft to leave the country.

He said: “The Taliban have searched our two houses in Afghanistan, breaking doors and windows asking where he is. My dad and I look after him, but his life is still in danger in Pakistan. He has had to change location three times.”

MP Diane Abbott told The Independent: “We have raised this particular case multiple times, both with the Foreign Office and Home Office. We have yet to receive a reply.

“In general, the treatment of Afghan visa applicants has been appalling. Whatever your view of the Afghan war, this country was a key participant, and many of those who helped British forces are now in grave danger. Yet this government seems to have turned its back on them almost entirely.”

The former prosecutor said: “I put all my heart and my life into my country and to see it fall like that was soul-destroying. Imagine working for 20 years, building an education system, making progress on women’s rights, and then to wake up one day and see it destroyed.

“I was thinking: ‘I am dead right now.’ Me living in this world is not going to have any more meaning. We are now 20 years behind. I cannot believe it. I can never believe it.

“I am constantly terrified. I am worried that I will go to jail. I don’t know what is going to happen.”