I’VE spent enough years in Afghanistan to know how much its people have been exploited and neglected.

As a reporter, I covered their resistance against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. No sooner had they helped drive the Russians out than they were recast by their erstwhile Western backers as a political pariah having duly served their purpose in fighting communism.

With much of the country by then in ruins and awash with Western-supplied weapons, it allowed Afghanistan’s warlords to step up a fight for power egged on once again by outside players vying for influence through their proxy militias.

The net result was a factional civil war in the 1990s that ripped the capital Kabul apart. The arrival of the Taliban passing themselves off as saviours of the country was short-lived as they quickly showed their true colours being the Frankenstein monster that they are and began their barbaric rule over the Afghan people.

In turn, the Taliban harboured Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda jihadists, giving rise to a US-led multinational invasion as part of the so-called “war on terror”.

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Afghans themselves were at the forefront of battling the Taliban and al-Qaeda with the country’s civilians paying by far the highest toll during the ensuing 20-year war. But one day two years ago, the US and UK once again threw Afghans to the wolves and an uncertain fate after they were deemed to have outlived their usefulness.

And what a fate it turned out to be. One where women now live under a regime of gender apartheid and 80% of the Afghan population lives below the poverty line.

A fate where people are known to have sold their organs or their child daughters into wedlock to avoid hunger.

A fate that left countless Afghans with no choice but to leave all they had behind and make the dangerous journey in search of a better and peaceful life for their families.

In all my years of close association with Afghanistan, never could I have imagined a more shameful moment than two years ago this week when the US and UK along with its allies left the Afghans to a future so many feared under the Taliban. A future so bleak that some Afghans were prepared to cling to the wheels of departing aircraft in the hope of escape before inevitably falling to their deaths.

Engulfed as we are right now by the callous and rapacious policies of the Tory government, it’s understandable that some will view the political battle that needs to be fought in resisting such policies as something that begins at home right here on our doorstep. Nothing could be truer. But it’s worth bearing in mind that such a battle is inseparable from that which many Afghans face at this moment right now.

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Those policies that gave us Brexit Britain’s low-wage economy, the bedroom tax, the five-week wait for Universal Credit and the two-child cap on benefits to name but a few, are born of the same disregard, cynicism and callousness which seeks to deport Afghan asylum seekers and others to Rwanda.

For those like Home Secretary Suella Braverman and other leading Tories, it matters nothing if you are a former Afghan Air Force pilot who fought alongside UK forces in his home country, or an interpreter who worked for the Ministry of Defence. The only thanks is no thanks.

It doesn’t matter either to Braverman and her ilk if you are one of countless Afghan women who have fled perhaps the world’s most gender-repressive regime in search of safety and away from persecution.

Highlighting the conditions of Afghan refugees in the UK, Zehra Zaidi, a lawyer and advocate, told the audience at an event held by Index on Censorship a few months ago of those Afghans who had been temporarily housed in hotels in the UK.

All of them, Zaidi pointed out, which number about 11,000 people, have been given three-month eviction notices and without alternative accommodation, will be homeless.

“This isn’t just about the Taliban in Afghanistan. This is now about us, our values. Do we still care about human rights and democracy?” asked Zaidi.The National: People protesting in Parliament Square in London on anniversary of the Taliban takeover of AfghanistanPeople protesting in Parliament Square in London on anniversary of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan (Image: Yui Mok)

“We must put pressure on the Government to support the process of people coming out of the hotels,” she added.

If nothing else, such facts prove that in a country where Tory policies are already responsible for growing poverty and homelessness, the political fight of those Afghans “lucky” enough to have made it to the UK is again inseparable from that which faces any of us seeking to resist this predatory government.

Not that such a fight is made any easier by the obfuscation and deflection that has become the hallmark of the Tories over the issue of refugees and asylum seekers.

Last year, Afghans were the second most common nationality of people arriving in the UK on small boats across the Channel. How telling it is that the Government sought to deflect attention from this by setting off alarm bells over Albanians who constituted the majority of small boat arrivals.

Let me be clear in what I’m saying here. It’s not that Afghans more than any other refugees or asylum seekers should be given priority. Each and every one of the people of whatever nationality coming to this country are individual cases.

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But only the most naïve would fail to notice that the UK Government goes out of its way to play down the case of Afghans because of its gross betrayal of the country and its people two years ago.

Since then it’s been much the same story over everything from repatriation promises to the issuing of visas. And all this before doing much to alleviate the plight of those Afghans that remain living under the Taliban yoke itself.

“F*** off back to France,” was the recent response of deputy chair of the Conservative Party Lee Anderson to asylum seekers including Afghans and other citizens of war-torn countries should they object to being “housed” on the Legionnaires’ disease-riddled Bibby Stockholm barge, moored of Dorset.

That those “housed” there had to be evacuated because of the threat from the disease only added incompetency to the many other failings that brought Tory policy to this shameful point.

How telling it was that some senior Tories, including Justice Secretary Alex Chalk, rallied to back Anderson, confirming the true face of those “running” the country.

It confirms too why the fight for refugee rights, including for Afghans, is inseparable from that of anyone who opposes this toxic government.