LONDON (Agencies): Britain’s House of Lords launched an inquiry into the UK’s engagement with Afghanistan – including its diplomatic, military and aid strategy. The inquiry by the International Relations and Defence Committee will consider the UK’s work with international partners such as the US, NATO and the Afghan government and will also consider the regional dynamics of instability in Afghanistan.
In addition, the committee will look into the implementation of the agreement between the US and the Taliban for the withdrawal of foreign troops, and prospects for negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The UK was actively engaged in the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda between 2001 and 2014, and still has about 1,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan in a non-combat role.
In a Call for Evidence published on the UK Parliament’s website, the chair said: “We are seeking to look closely at the UK Government’s role and aims in the country, in the context of the planned US withdrawal announced in February 2020.” Acknowledging that the Afghan people have suffered as a result of instability, conflict and underdevelopment, the committee stated that the UK has an ongoing interest in a sustainable political settlement being reached.
“We are looking for evidence to inform us about the effectiveness of the UK’s engagement in Afghanistan, and what role it should play in the future. An important part of this inquiry will be the effective scrutiny of the work of the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Ministry of Defense in Afghanistan,” the notice stated. According to the committee, it is seeking evidence to address a number of questions including what the prospects are for the implementation of the peace agreement between the US and the Taliban signed in February, what the outlook is for talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban following the US Taliban peace agreement and what will the impact be of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan on the UK.
The committee will also investigate the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on Afghanistan. Lords stated that diversity comes in many forms and hearing a range of different perspectives means that committees are better informed and can more effectively scrutinize public policy and legislation.
“Committees can undertake their role most effectively when they hear from a wide range of individuals, sectors or groups in society affected by a particular policy or piece of legislation. We encourage anyone with experience or expertise of an issue under investigation by a select committee to share their views with the committee, with the full knowledge that their views have value and are welcome.”