Select Committee on International Relations and Defence
The UK and Afghanistan

2nd Report of Session 2019-21 - published 13 January 2021 - HL Paper 208



Chapter 1: Introduction

Box 1: Afghanistan timeline

Figure 1: Map of violence by province

2020 and a possible future settlement with the Taliban

Background on the UK and Afghanistan

Box 2: Timeline of UK military engagement in Afghanistan since 2001

This report

Chapter 2: The UK and Afghanistan from 2014

Changes to the UK approach from 2014

UK objectives and interests from 2015

Government co-ordination

The UK as an actor in Afghanistan

Afghan interpreters

Chapter 3: The Afghan state and government

The Afghan government

Spoils, warlords and strongmen

Centralised political system

Ethnicity in Afghan politics

Box 3: Ethnic groups, religion and language


Action to combat corruption

Human rights

Rights of women and girls

Current situation

International work to improve the rights of women and girls

Refugees and internally displaced people

Table 1: Afghan refugees and internally displaced persons


The UK and Afghan refugees

Chapter 4: The Afghan economy

Structure of the economy


Minerals and mining

Trade and connectivity

The grey economy and the illicit drugs trade

Figure 2: Map of poppy cultivation


Box 4: The Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund

Box 5: The Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund

UK development assistance


Poverty and COVID-19

Chapter 5: The Taliban and other security issues

Taliban control of territory

Figure 3: Map of Taliban controlled areas

Composition of the Taliban

Generational differences

Ethnicity and ideology


External influences, including relations with Pakistan

Taliban structure, shadow government and income


Shadow government

Sources of income

The Taliban’s links to terrorist groups and other non-state actors

Terrorist groups

The Haqqani Network

Box 6: The Haqqani Network


Box 7: al-Qaeda

Islamic State Khorasan Province

Box 8: Islamic State Khorasan Province

Chapter 6: External actors

Relations with the US

Policy of the Trump Administration

Box 9: The US–Taliban agreement

Possible policy of President-elect Biden

Afghanistan’s neighbours

Figure 4: Map of Afghanistan’s neighbourhood


Figure 5: Map of the Durand Line showing the area inhabited by the ethnic Pashtun

Box 10: The Durand Line



Conclusion on Afghanistan’s neighbours

The Gulf states

Saudi Arabia




Relations with the Taliban

Chapter 7: The Afghan National Security Forces and NATO training

Box 11: The Afghan National Security Forces

NATO’s Resolute Support Mission

Box 12: NATO’s Resolute Support Mission

Effectiveness of the Resolute Support Mission

UK contribution to the Resolute Support Mission

Assessment of the Afghan National Security Forces

The Afghan National Security Forces and militias and factions

Funding for the Afghan National Security Forces

Box 13: The NATO Afghan National Army Trust Fund and the UN Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan

Chapter 8: The peace talks in Doha and the future

Impact of the US–Taliban agreement on the talks

The delegations and their objectives

The Afghan government-aligned negotiating team

The Taliban

Complexity and timeline

External parties and the talks

The US

The UK

Regional actors

Possible outcomes

Possible changes to the constitution

A share of government and security positions

Human rights, including the rights of women

Illicit drugs

Foreign and security policy

Possible future role for the US and its partners

Security support during the peace talks

Future security assistance

Future official development assistance funding

Summary of conclusions and recommendations

Appendix 1: List of Members and declarations of interest

Appendix 2: List of witnesses

Appendix 3: Call for evidence

Evidence is published online at and available for inspection at the Parliamentary Archives (020 7129 3074).

Q in footnotes refers to a question in oral evidence

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