Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Seventh Report


168.  In previous Reports on foreign policy aspects of the war against terrorism, we have chronicled events in Afghanistan, from the fall of the Taliban to international efforts to stabilise the country and to assist reconstruction.[229] We concluded in those Reports that the poor security situation in Afghanistan has allowed terrorist groups to regroup and to plan further attacks on Western interests. In preparing this Report, we visited Afghanistan on 12 and 13 May 2004. In Kabul, we met President Hamid Karzai, Foreign Minister Abdallah Abdallah, Afghan government representatives, and United Nations, NATO and other international personnel. We were also able to spend some time in the Northern city of Mazar-e Sharif, where we visited the regional police training facility and met members of the United Kingdom-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT).

169.  During our visit, we observed that British diplomats, other officials and military personnel in Afghanistan are having to work in the most trying of circumstances. The new British Embassy in Kabul is in the quite cramped and sparse accommodation which was formerly the Bulgarian Embassy. Most of the staff are accommodated in portable buildings. The postings are unaccompanied, and the recreational facilities available are minimal. The contribution made by United Kingdom personnel based in Afghanistan is much appreciated by the British Government, by international bodies such as the UN, by the Government of Afghanistan and by those Afghans who have direct experience of it. In our view, it deserves to be more widely reported. We conclude that the contribution being made by United Kingdom diplomatic, aid and military personnel in Afghanistan, working in challenging and dangerous conditions, is out of all proportion to their small numbers. We recommend that the Government do what it can to improve the conditions in which its personnel live and work in Afghanistan.

170. Below, we set out our analysis of the role the United Kingdom and its allies are playing in Afghanistan, in assisting the Afghan government and people to overcome the formidable challenges which confront them and to rebuild their country.

229   HC (2002-03) 405, paras 181-84; HC (2003-04) 81, paras 277-83 Back

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