UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has expressed his regret of the way his government withdrew from Afghanistan, saying Britain “would not have wished to leave in this way.”
After the evacuation of the last UK personnel, in a statement published on Sunday, Johnson reiterated that the British government had been made by the US to withdraw from the war-torn country, promising to “engage with the Taliban” on the basis of their actions.
Johnson said the possibility of granting diplomatic recognition and unfreezing the bank accounts of the new de facto rulers of Afghanistan is dependent on their commitment to respect the rights of women and girls, their pledge not to host international terrorist organizations and their assurance to provide safe passage to refugees fleeing the country.
He also praised the British forces who handled the evacuation process from Kabul, saying that the airlift had been “the culmination of a mission unlike anything we've seen in our lifetimes.”
Johnson’s glorification of British troops came after the Observer newspaper revealed that thousands of emails sent to the UK Foreign Office mailbox by government ministers, MPs and charities, detailing emergency cases of Afghans trying to flee Kabul, have not been read throughout the week.
Furthermore, the Independent newspaper has revealed that dozens of Afghan interpreters working for the British Army were told they are not allowed to enter the UK as they are a “danger to [national] security.”
The British prime minister's statement was published after the former head of the British Army, General Richard Dannatt, accused the government of being “asleep on watch” in relation to the protection of Afghans, stressing that the government’s approach was “unfathomable” and that the issue of Afghanistan had been put “on the back burner.”
The general reiterated that “back in July, 45 senior officers wrote to the Government, an open letter to the Government, saying there are people we are concerned about and if we don't do the right thing, their blood will be on our hands.”
Johnson has been under scathing criticism over the government’s handling of the Afghan crisis since the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan.