Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon assisting in getting Afghan VIPs on the UK evacuation planes

in spite of being surprised on holiday.

Minister for Afghanistan Lord Ahmad ‘was on HOLIDAY’ when Kabul fell

The minister for Afghanistan Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon was on a staycation when Kabul fell, reports say.

The Tory life peer was reportedly away from his desk when the Taliban marched into the capital and seized power on Sunday.

Lord Ahmad, whose full title is Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, was believed to have been on leave until that day.

It comes as Dominic Raab is under renewed pressure after new claims accused him of failing to engage with foreign counterparts on the Afghanistan situation.

The Foreign Secretary has faced calls to resign over his handling of the Afghanistan crisis due to him remaining on a luxury holiday in Crete until early Monday morning.

The Tory life peer was reportedly away from his desk when the Taliban marched into the capital and seized power on Sunday

The Tory life peer was reportedly away from his desk when the Taliban marched into the capital and seized power on Sunday

It comes as Dominic Raab (pictured yesterday) is under renewed pressure after new claims accused him of failing to engage with foreign counterparts on the Afghanistan situation

It comes as Dominic Raab (pictured yesterday) is under renewed pressure after new claims accused him of failing to engage with foreign counterparts on the Afghanistan situation

Sky News reported the latest upset in the Conservative Party, with Lord Ahmad yet to comment on the claims.

He is said to have been on staycation in Britain until Monday but remained in contact with his staff and worked on cases people stuck in the Middle East nation.

A FCDO spokesman said: ‘Lord Ahmad has been working closely with the foreign secretary and the FCDO team throughout the response to events in Afghanistan, including engaging with international partners.’

The politician and former businessman has been speaking frequently with Afghan foreign minister Mohammed Haneef Atmar in the last year.

He has also engaged in peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government in Doha, Qatar.

Lord Ahmad is said to have been on staycation in Britain until Monday but remained in contact with his staff and worked on cases people stuck in the Middle East nation

Lord Ahmad is said to have been on staycation in Britain until Monday but remained in contact with his staff and worked on cases people stuck in the Middle East nation

Despite this he was not believed to have been asked to make the call to Mr Atmar last Friday – during Mr Raab’s absence – with it being delegated to Lord Goldsmith.

But it later emerged the Minister for Pacific and the Environment did not make the call either – with it never taking place.

After returning from his trip, Lord Ahmad made an impassioned speech in the House of Lords on the Afghanistan question.

Concluding a debate on Thursday, he said: ‘I speak as a Muslim, we’ve had debates and discussions on Islam and its role, and I say to the Taliban quite directly from the outset – the chapters of the holy Quran, with the exception of one, start with the words ‘In the name of God, the most merciful, the most beneficent’.

‘Are you going to be merciful and beneficent towards your citizens? That’s how we should hold the Taliban to account.

‘I assure you, my Lords, in all my engagements and discussions that we will have with international partners that will be at the heart and soul of the engagement that we need to have with this organisation that seeks to represent a faith I follow, but its interpretation is so far from the nobility of any faith or any sense of humanity that we should be unified in our response to this particular group.’

Lord Ahmad also confirmed work had been ongoing during the debate to assist the Chevening scholars in Afghanistan.

He said: ‘I am delighted to confirm our ambassador is in touch directly with the scholars and we are in the process of arranging the travel of those particular scholars to the United Kingdom.’

Meanwhile Boris Johnson backed Mr Raab on Friday, but that was before the Daily Mail found Mr Raab did not pick up the phone to other foreign ministers until Sunday, the day the Afghan capital fell to insurgents, as he was on holiday.

Dominic Raab's job was hanging by a thread as it emerged the crucial phone call that was delegated to a junior minister never took place
Mr Raab in Whitehall yesterday

Dominic Raab’s job was hanging by a thread as it emerged the crucial phone call that was delegated to a junior minister never took place. Pictured left, a photo of Mr Raab at his desk on Thursday night and right in Whitehall yesterday

Witnesses saw the Cabinet minister swimming and using a paddleboard on the last day of his break, which was spent at a beach at a five-star hotel on Crete.

Mr Raab was already in the firing line after it emerged he delegated a call about repatriating Afghan interpreters, while away on August 13, to a junior minister.

The decision resulted in the phone conversation with the Afghan foreign minister not taking place and possibly delaying taking them to safety.

The Foreign Secretary returned to the UK on Monday to begin dealing with the unfolding debacle in person.

Asked about the latest allegations, the Foreign Office highlighted Mr Raab’s statement issued on Friday – comments made before the claims emerged.

Mr Raab earlier this week insisted he had been ‘talking to foreign counterparts’ while out of the country, as well as taking part in emergency Government Cobra meetings remotely and dealing with his team in London on an ‘hour-by-hour basis’.

Attempts to repatriate UK nationals and Afghans who supported efforts in the country are continuing as the situation at Kabul airport appeared to worsen.

The US embassy in Afghanistan is recommending US citizens avoid travelling to the airfield ‘because of potential security threats outside the gates’.

There are reports of violent scenes and overcrowding at the main entrance and at Taliban checkpoints.

Sky News said it had spoken to British troops at the airport who had served in Afghanistan previously, and who said the queues, crushing and desperation of people to get out of the country were the worst scenes they had witnessed during their service.

Time is running out to repatriate people to the UK ahead of US President Joe Biden’s August 31 deadline to withdraw most remaining US troops.

On Friday he did not commit to extending it, in a move that is likely to mean British troops must return home at the same time, as the airport cannot be held without US enforcement.

Reports have suggested the last evacuation flight could be as soon as Tuesday, in order to give British troops enough time to leave safely.

The Prime Minister said 1,000 people had been brought to the UK on both Thursday and Friday, with most of them UK nationals or those who had assisted British efforts in Afghanistan.

Despite claims the situation in the country is improving, a former Royal Marine-turned charity director in Afghanistan said he cannot get to Kabul airport without putting his life at risk.

Paul Farthing, known as ‘Pen’, has been trying to get all of his 25 staff from animal welfare charity Nowzad, their families and more than 100 dogs and cats out of the country as the Taliban complete their takeover.

As the chaos at Kabul airport shows no sign of letting up, Mr Farthing said he feels ‘completely numb at the incompetence’ of the Government’s efforts so far.

Dominic Dyer, who has been campaigning for Mr Farthing, told the PA news agency, however, that progress had been made in acquiring visas for all 68 people in his entourage, but said the ‘main obstacle’ is still ‘getting through the airport’ where thousands of people are scrambling to escape.

Meanwhile, a head teacher in Nottingham said two of her pupils are expected home from Afghanistan in the ‘next couple of days’ after a terrifying ordeal.

According to the Nottingham Post, Nargas Ziahe flew out to Afghanistan more than six weeks ago following the death of an uncle, but became trapped in Parwan province with her brother Omar, five, and sister Asma, nine, following the lightning Taliban advance.

Amanda Dawson, head of Mellers Primary School which Omar and Asma attend, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘They are safe, they are in the airport and, unless the airport falls of course, they are safe and we are expecting them to be home in the next couple of days.’

With difficult scenes still unfolding, a former chairman of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has called for its current membership to investigate whether an ‘intelligence failure’ led to the chaotic withdrawal of allied forces.

Dominic Grieve, a former Conservative MP and attorney general, told Sky News: ‘I think if they had known this was going to happen, would the US withdrawal have proceeded in the way it did?

‘It must be an intelligence failure that one should end up with thousands of people crowding into an airport seeking to leave a country when it has been triggered by military decisions by the United States as to how it was going to conduct its withdrawal.’

Thousands of protesters take over Downing Street, Oxford Circus and Hyde Park as they demonstrate the UK government’s handling of Afghanistan crisis

  • Protesters were outside Downing Street and took over Oxford Street and Hyde Park and hit out at government
  • Men and women let off green and red flares in the street, waved the country’s flag and held up huge banners
  • The Taliban launched the final assault on Kabul on Sunday and seized power after President Ashraf Ghani fled

Thousands of protestors have today descended on central London to demonstrate against Britain’s response to the Afghanistan crisis.

Marchers rallied outside Downing Street and took over Oxford Circus and Hyde Park as they criticised the government’s handling of the Taliban seizing the Middle East nation.

Men and women let off green and red flares in the street, waved the country’s flag and held up huge banners during the protest.

The Taliban launched their final assault on Kabul on Sunday and seized power after President Ashraf Ghani fled to Dubai, reportedly with a wad of cash and luxury cars.

The West’s immediate response has been widely criticised as it evacuates citizens but largely leaves Afghans in the hands of the brutal Islamists.

Thousands of protestors have today descended on central London to demonstrate against Britain's response to the Afghanistan crisis

Thousands of protestors have today descended on central London to demonstrate against Britain’s response to the Afghanistan crisis

Marchers rallied outside Downing Street and took over Oxford Circus and Hyde Park as they criticised the government's handling of the Taliban seizing the Middle East nation

Marchers rallied outside Downing Street and took over Oxford Circus and Hyde Park as they criticised the government’s handling of the Taliban seizing the Middle East nation

Men and women let off green and red flares in the street, waved the country's flag and held up huge banners during the protest

Men and women let off green and red flares in the street, waved the country’s flag and held up huge banners during the protest

The Taliban launched their final assault on Kabul on Sunday and seized power after President Ashraf Ghani fled to Dubai, reportedly with a wad of cash and luxury cars

The Taliban launched their final assault on Kabul on Sunday and seized power after President Ashraf Ghani fled to Dubai, reportedly with a wad of cash and luxury cars

The West's immediate response has been widely criticised as it evacuates citizens but largely leaves Afghans in the hands of the brutal Islamists

The West’s immediate response has been widely criticised as it evacuates citizens but largely leaves Afghans in the hands of the brutal Islamists

Protesters today braved the rain as they took to central London to call for Britain to do more to help stranded civilians and stand up to the terror group.

They walked down the road in a blur of red and green – two of the colours in the Afghanistan flag – after setting off flares.

One banner said: ‘Stop oppression of Afghan women.’ Another read: ‘Talib has not changed.’ While one more added: ‘We want peace.’ The Metropolitan Police has been approached for comment.

Nato countries have been flying their citizens out of Afghanistan this week and it is believed 12,000 have so far been rescued.

But there have been raised eyebrows about the approach to Afghan civilians, with the criteria to get on an evacuation plane being widely questioned.

Protesters today braved the rain as they took to central London to call for Britain to do more to help stranded civilians and stand up to the terror group

Protesters today braved the rain as they took to central London to call for Britain to do more to help stranded civilians and stand up to the terror group

They walked down the road in a blur of red and green - two of the colours in the Afghanistan flag - after setting off flares

They walked down the road in a blur of red and green – two of the colours in the Afghanistan flag – after setting off flares

One banner said: 'Stop oppression of Afghan women.' Another read: 'Talib has not changed.' While one more added: 'We want peace.' The Metropolitan Police has been approached for comment

One banner said: ‘Stop oppression of Afghan women.’ Another read: ‘Talib has not changed.’ While one more added: ‘We want peace.’ The Metropolitan Police has been approached for comment

Nato countries have been flying their citizens out of Afghanistan this week and it is believed 12,000 have so far been rescued

Nato countries have been flying their citizens out of Afghanistan this week and it is believed 12,000 have so far been rescued

But there have been raised eyebrows about the approach to Afghan civilians, with the criteria to get on an evacuation plane being widely questioned

But there have been raised eyebrows about the approach to Afghan civilians, with the criteria to get on an evacuation plane being widely questioned

Dominic Raab last night refused to apologise for failing to make a crucial phone call while he was on holiday to seek help for Afghan translators.

Boris Johnson insisted yesterday he ‘absolutely’ had full confidence in the Foreign Secretary as the Government mounted a frantic operation to shore up his precarious position.

But in an another damaging development last night, it emerged that Mr Raab did not call any of his foreign counterparts in the days leading up to the Taliban’s seizure of Kabul.

The Foreign Office had insisted he did not speak to the Afghan foreign minister last Friday – despite advice from senior officials – because he was ‘engaged on a range of other calls’.

But it is understood he just spoke to British officials and fellow ministers in the week before the Taliban took Kabul.

Mr Raab, who was staying at a luxury beach resort in Crete, only started making calls to his foreign counterparts on the Sunday afternoon once the insurgents had entered the Afghan capital. The Foreign Office last night declined to comment.

The Mail revealed on Thursday that Mr Raab had been advised by senior officials to call Afghan foreign minister Hanif Atmar to help get Afghan translators out of the country.

But he failed to do this and the call was delegated to the on-duty minister Lord Goldsmith. The Daily Mail then revealed yesterday that the call in fact never actually took place.

Mr Raab said yesterday that ministers had been ‘working tirelessly’ over the past week to evacuate British nationals and Afghans.

In his first full statement on the affair, he confirmed he had been advised to contact Mr Atmar last Friday but said the ‘call was delegated to a minister of state because I was prioritising security and capacity at the airport’.

‘In any event, the Afghan foreign minister agreed to take the call, but was unable to because of the rapidly deteriorating situation,’ he added.

But last night the Foreign Secretary faced fresh criticism for failing to apologise or include any hint of contrition in his statement.

Dominic Raab last night refused to apologise for failing to make a crucial phone call while he was on holiday to seek help for Afghan translators

Dominic Raab last night refused to apologise for failing to make a crucial phone call while he was on holiday to seek help for Afghan translators

Boris Johnson insisted yesterday he 'absolutely' had full confidence in the Foreign Secretary as the Government mounted a frantic operation to shore up his precarious position

Boris Johnson insisted yesterday he ‘absolutely’ had full confidence in the Foreign Secretary as the Government mounted a frantic operation to shore up his precarious position

But in an another damaging development last night, it emerged that Mr Raab did not call any of his foreign counterparts in the days leading up to the Taliban 's seizure of Kabul

But in an another damaging development last night, it emerged that Mr Raab did not call any of his foreign counterparts in the days leading up to the Taliban ‘s seizure of Kabul

The Mail revealed on Thursday that Mr Raab had been advised by senior officials to call Afghan foreign minister Hanif Atmar to help get Afghan translators out of the country

The Mail revealed on Thursday that Mr Raab had been advised by senior officials to call Afghan foreign minister Hanif Atmar to help get Afghan translators out of the country

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said: ‘There is no defence for Dominic Raab’s shameful negligence and his failure to act may have cost lives. It is unbelievable that even now the Foreign Secretary is wasting time making excuses when a catastrophe is still unfolding in front of our eyes.’

Earlier, Lord Robertson, who was Nato secretary general on 9/11, accused Mr Raab of ‘a dereliction of duty of major consequence’. Asked if the Foreign Secretary’s statement had satisfactorily answered questions about his actions, the former defence secretary replied: ‘No, it doesn’t at all.’

He told BBC Radio 4’s World At One: ‘Foreign ministers only talk to foreign ministers – they don’t talk to junior ministers.

‘So he should have been talking to the foreign minister of Afghanistan much earlier than last Friday anyway.

‘Common sense would have suggested that the Foreign Secretary should have been trying to sort out the exit of our vulnerable people before that.’

The former Labour foreign secretary Jack Straw said he would never delegate a call with his Afghan counterpart to another minister and he was ‘surprised’ that Mr Raab did so.

But the Prime Minister last night dismissed calls to sack his Foreign Secretary. Asked if he had full confidence in Mr Raab, Mr Johnson said: ‘Absolutely.’

Asked if people had been left in Afghanistan as a result of Mr Raab not making the phone call, he said: ‘No, I don’t think that’s the case.’

source

https://www.tech-gate.org/usa/2021/08/21/minister-for-afghanistan-lord-ahmad-was-on-holiday-when-kabul-fell/

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