Dark end of the tunnel
The combination of injustice and ingratitude have left those who helped the British in Afghanistan in a hopeless state. The sad story of Abdul Bari, confined in Manchester, UK, is a case in point. He is now literally in fear of being sent back to Afghanistan. "I'm so scared that if I'm deported the Taliban are going to kill me," said Bari, who worked as an interpreter for the British Armed Forces between 2008 and 2010, following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The 27-year-old from Kunduz in northern Afghanistan said he received death threats from the Taliban and fled to Britain, where he claimed asylum in 2015. Now the cases of those, like Bari, who served alongside the British military fighting the Taliban have received new attention after more than 150 interpreters wrote a letter to new British Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, saying that they had been told to pay thousands of pounds in visa application fees if they wished to stay. The government, which has been under fire recently for its treatment of the so-called Windrush generation from Commonwealth countries, responded with the statement that Afghan interpreters who served in 2012 and joined a 2014 relocation programme could stay. This offer, however, does not apply to the likes of Bari. "It doesn't give me any hope because I left in 2010 so I'm not eligible." Even though he risked his life for the British Army, Bari's asylum claim was rejected by the UK Home Office. Despite the proof he gave, UK officials did not believe there were Taliban threats against him. He now faces removal but is challenging the decision in the courts. His life changed ten years ago when he applied to become an interpreter for the British Armed Forces in Kabul. "I was really excited to help because the military wanted to bring peace and security to my country," he explained, "It was my duty to help as there was no peace." As a part of his role, Bari helped to defuse tensions between the British forces and the locals in the areas around Kabul. Eventually, local sympathisers informed the Taliban militants that he was working for the British. According to a UK government policy guidance issued last month, Afghanistan is now safe to return to despite the worsening security situation. The Home Office said it would not comment on any individual cases and a spokesperson said it expected individuals who have exhausted the appeals process to return voluntarily. If one refuses, "removal is only enforced when we and the courts conclude that it is safe to do so, with a safe route of return." Obviously, a grim future awaits the likes of Bari.