Scottish politicians have been reacting to events unfolding in Afghanistan, as Taliban fighters enter the capital Kabul, the elected president Ashraf Ghani is flown out of the country, and foreign diplomats are airlifted from their embassy compounds.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says she hopes the UK Government will offer refuge to vulnerable Afghans, and said the Scottish Government “is willing to play our full part and do all we can to help those in peril as a result of the horrifying situation.”
Meanwhile the SNP’s leader in Westminster Ian Blackford described events in Afghanistan as “deeply worrying” and said they UK has “a moral duty to the people and government of Afghanistan.”
“There are serious and worrying questions over the manner of departure from the country, lack of support for the Afghanistan government, and the reckless cut to aid support.”
UK, US and NATO forces have been in Afghanistan for almost 20 years and spent prolonged periods involved in fierce fighting with Taliban which cost the lives of thousands of military and security personnel, and even more civilian deaths.
While there have been successful elections held over the last dozen years in Afghanistan, a series of weak leaders and ineffective governance coupled with endemic corruption have seen the central government’s rule eroded to the point where Taliban forces encountered little resistance in recent weeks as they swept the country claiming remote rural districts and key cities alike, and enjoying a fair measure of support from citizens.
“Make no mistake about this – the absence of a proper strategy and meaningful planning makes this a serious failure of leadership and one of the biggest foreign policy disasters of modern times” Ian Blackford added.
Meanwhile SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes, who sits on the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, describes the situation as “the resurrection of the Dark Ages.”
“What we are witnessing in Kabul is the resurrection of the Dark Ages and a nation whose peoples have been betrayed by the world all the while the rules based system collapses around us all” he says.
“There will be profound global consequences from this retreat.”
Parliament recalled amid ‘tragedy’ in Afghanistan
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has recalled MPs to parliament on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, and the House of Lords will also be recalled the same day.
In Scotland, Labour leader Anas Sarwar said on Sunday that what was happening in Afghanstan was a “tragedy” and that it was vital “all measures are taken to end the bloodshed and protect human rights.”
“The international community must come together and do all it can to stabilise the political situation and uphold the rights of the Afghan people” Mr Sarwar said.
Meanwhile Patrick Harvie, co-leader of the Scottish Greens told the BBC on Sunday that events were “horrific” and “all too predictable.”
“Whatever happens now on the ground the most urgent need is for people to escape. Neighbouring countries as well as other countries, including the UK, need to be saying very clearly we will give refuge to the people leaving Afghanistan”
“This is the responsibility of countries that have been involved, yet again, of one more generation of let’s wade in, interfere, and walk away” he told journalist Fiona Stalker.
“The UK and other countries bear that moral responsibility.”
John Nicolson, the MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, said he felt “powerless” when constituents have contacted him in distress about events in Afghanistan.
The former BBC journalist, who was reading the news during the 9/11 attacks carried out by Taliban-backed terrorists against targets in the USA, said that international troops should not have pulled out of the country.
Most American forces left the country in May as part of a deal agreed with the Taliban, while President Joe Biden recently announced that all remaining military personnel would leave by mid-September.
“What we should have done is keep troops there to keep women safe. We lost so much, and to pull out in this chaotic way is shameful” he said.
“What can we do now, today? We should clearly be allowing the maximum number of people who have worked for us to leave, together with their families.
“Our politicians should stop saying stupid things. Stop talking about how we will apply maximum pressure on the Taliban externally, or we’ll speak to the EU or we’re going to hold angry debates at the United Nations” says Mr Nicolson.
“This just insults the intelligence of anyone who knows anything about what’s happening on the ground in Afghanistan, and it must cause the Afghans who are hiding in their homes great distress.”