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Afghanistan (Security Arrangements)

Volume 574: debated on Tuesday 21 January 2014

10. What recent discussions he has had with his Afghan counterpart on security arrangements after 2014; and if he will make a statement. (902072)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed this issue with Foreign Minister Osmani at the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in December. The UK’s long-term commitment to Afghanistan is made clear in the enduring strategic partnership document signed by the Prime Minister and President Karzai in January 2012 and reviewed annually by a ministerial joint commission.

I am sure that the Minister is aware of the campaign being run by Amnesty International aimed at strengthening and protecting the rights of women in the security arrangements and more broadly in civic society. What can he say to the House that will reassure those campaigners?

The UK has made it absolutely clear to the Afghan Government that the historic gains since 2001, including on women’s rights, must not be lost. These commitments are enshrined in the Tokyo mutual accountability framework, and we will be doing everything possible to ensure that the Afghan Government meet them.

Does the Minister agree that the security situation in Afghanistan post-2014 is linked to working with Pakistan to stop the terrorism that is going from one country to the other across the large border between the two countries?

Absolutely. Anybody who has come back from Afghanistan recently, particularly from the military side, will point to the real improvements made by the Afghan security forces. It would be a great shame if that were lost in the political discussions that take place above that.

May I join my right hon. Friend for Newcastle upon Tyne East (Mr Brown) and old boss in paying tribute to the work of Amnesty International in Afghanistan and thank the Minister for his reply? On 23 April last year, I asked the Foreign Secretary what steps he was taking to ensure the protection of British forces and civilians in Afghanistan. In the light of the shocking events in Kabul in the past few days, can he provide reassurance to them and their families as to what is being done to provide protection now and after the military draw-down?

After the military draw-down, of course, the hope is that a NATO-led mission will replace the international security assistance force. Britain’s part in that will be to provide mentors and trainers. We keep the security situation in Kabul and elsewhere under close review on a daily, if not hourly, basis, and we amend the advice accordingly.