Wednesday, 29 September 2021
Afghanistan Crisis: Statements
Whatever our plan is and whatever engagement we have on Afghanistan, I would agree with what many previous speakers have said in that it has to be from the point of view of putting human rights in a primary position. I welcome what the Minister has said about the 1,200 people who are being facilitated to come here. That is necessary work and it is a piece of humanity that we have to offer. It is incumbent on other states, particularly on those with power and wealth, to deliver for these people. We have to use our position on the UN Security Council to ensure that the international community does the best it can.
We must accept that we are not starting from a particularly good place. We are all in fear of what the Taliban has done in recent times and of what it is capable of doing. The Taliban is not a monolith and there may be sections within it that are looking to keep the show on the road as far as Afghanistan is concerned. The international community has to be clear on what is acceptable and basic human rights have to be acceptable. If we go back in time there was a point when the Americans had no major difficulty dealing with the Taliban. That was long before 11 September 2001 when they saw it as a possible force for security in the region, a region America played a huge part in destabilising.
You do not need to be a major student of history to accept that few of those engaged in putting US and other international plans in play as they impacted Afghanistan necessarily read a whole pile of history. Everybody knows that Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires or a breaker's yard for empires. It is where the Americans decided the Soviets would have their Vietnam and they had no difficulty in ensuring that all the resources they believed were required were put in. This was long before the trillions of dollars that were spent in the recent war in Afghanistan. The mujahidin would not have been able to put up much of a fight if it were not for the weapons that were brought through, that the CIA facilitated and that the Americans paid for. The same number of helicopters would not have fallen if it had not been for the stinger missiles the CIA provided the mujahidin with.
We all know that due diligence was not done on who the money and resources went to. They went to the wrong people and to who the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence, ISI, decided they would go to. These people did not have America's best interests at heart. As the Americans saw it the job was complete and they left after the mujahidin had for all intents and purposes beaten the Soviet Union and played a major role in winning the Cold War as they saw it. Those elements of the mujahidin then went to war with each other and eventually the Taliban took over. Then we had the situation where the Taliban allowed al-Qaeda to operate and we know the history of America with that. No one would ever consider standing over what then happened and the brutal crime that was visited on America. There might have been options at that point to deal with al-Qaeda without engaging in a war that was an abject failure and that cost 20 years and trillions of dollars.
The big regret in any of these situations is the fact that had that money been spent on something other than armaments and on destroying whatever level of infrastructure and economy there was in Afghanistan, we could possibly be in a better place. The international community and the American regime in particular did not do justice to those who lost their lives on 11 September 2001. In no way, shape or form was justice done for those people who have suffered over the past 20 years. We are dealing with it, we have to set out to do better in the future and we have to do whatever we can to facilitate the people of Afghanistan.