Afghanistan: Taliban must not be treated as pariahs, says Lord Hain

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Media caption,

Afghan interpreter: "I'm so worried about my parents and my sisters' safety"

Western countries must negotiate with the Taliban to incentivise them not to return to "oppressive ways" in Afghanistan, a Welsh peer has said.

Ex-foreign office minister Lord Peter Hain said talks would fail if the group was treated as "pariahs".

Meanwhile, Rhondda MP Chris Bryant said gay men faced "extermination" in the country.

The UK has agreed to take in up to 20,000 Afghan refugees over the next few years, including 5,000 this year.

The Welsh government said it "stands ready" to play its part.

Thousands of Afghans have been trying to flee the country after the Taliban seized control of the capital Kabul.

Media caption,

Chaotic scenes at Kabul airport

However, the UK government has faced criticism, with some MPs and charities saying it does not go far enough.

Lord Hain, who served as a foreign office minister under Tony Blair from 1999 to 2001, said economic incentives should be offered in any negotiations with the new rulers.

The Taliban have promised the rights of women in Afghanistan will be respected "within the framework of Islamic law".

Speaking in the House of Lords, the former MP for Neath, said talks should also include tough deterrents to respect human rights.

Lord Hain said: "We must now find ways to incentivise the Taliban - and yes that also includes engaging with them alongside regional powers like China and Iran - so that they are discouraged from returning to their bad old ways, including their oppression of women and girls."

"Experience from Northern Ireland, hard learnt at bloody cost to life and limb, shows that you will fail if you treat groups like the Taliban as pariahs. "You have to negotiate with them, offering economic incentives and tough deterrents to respect international norms and human rights."

Media caption,

PM Boris Johnson says British troops should be "proud of their achievements" in Afghanistan

Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a barrage of criticism and was accused of failing the people of Afghanistan and armed forces, as the House of Commons was recalled to debate the crisis.

US President Joe Biden also came in for criticism from MPs for withdrawing US forces from Afghanistan and allowing the Taliban to take control.

Some 457 UK personnel died and more than 2,000 were wounded in the Afghanistan conflict, prompted by the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US by al-Qaeda.

However, Lord Hain said it was "no good just finger-jabbing" at politicians, adding there must be a "proper reckoning" in the Commons and in Congress "about the real lessons of our common culpability in this utter catastrophe".

Meanwhile, Labour's Mr Bryant said he was frightened for the safety of women, children and gay men under the Taliban's regime.

"It's not exactly been a walk in the park for the last 20 years either for them. But now they know that they will be exterminated," he said, during a debate in the House of Commons.

Mr Bryant said Sharia judges had said they would either stone or have walls topple on homosexual men, killing them.

Plaid Cymru's leader in Westminster, Liz Saville Roberts, urged the UK government to increase the number of Afghan refugees coming into the country.

Speaking during a debate in the Commons, Ms Saville Roberts said the UK has a "practical and moral responsibility" to thousands in Afghanistan.

Most councils in Wales have said they will offer homes to Afghan families.

"I urge the government to expand its Afghan relocation and systems policy to all locally engaged staff and their families regardless of whether they served in exposed or enabling roles or not," she said.

"We must too help those people who dared to share our cherished values, especially journalists and women in senior civil society roles and those who worked with UK-affiliated charities."

She added that Wales had a "long and proud history of providing sanctuary to those fleeing persecution and communities across Wales, and the rest of the UK, were ready to show the same compassion today".

The Welsh government said it was pleased that all parts of the UK would meet to discuss how each nation could support those fleeing Afghanistan.It said: "We stand ready to support these schemes and the people of Afghanistan."

It called for the Nationality and Borders Bill, which would make it a criminal offence for anyone to enter the UK knowingly without permission, to be scrapped.

"The need for such a scheme underlines what we have been saying all along - this is not the time for the UK government to abandon its commitments to those seeking asylum," it added.

"We urge the home secretary to think again, scrap those proposals and build more safe and legal routes to the UK."

The UK government has said the 5,000 figure was "not a hard cap" on how many people would be rehoused in the first year, but based on expectations of how many would be able to leave over that time period.