Afghan human rights director who fled to Scotland brands Tony Blair ‘liar’

It is 10 years since Tony Blair personally promised Mohammad Asif the allies would not abandon Afghanistan.

Now in Scotland and speaking as director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, Asif claims the UK and United States have “thrown Afghanistan to the lions” with their withdrawal.

Asif, who came to Glasgow in 2000, had written to former prime minister Blair and urged him not to use military force in Afghanistan.

Last night, Asif, 54, said: “Blair wrote back and said the allies would never leave the country in chaos. I didn’t trust him and as we can see, he is exactly the liar I thought he was. Afghanistan has been thrown to the lions.”

Dad-of-three Asif fled his village near Jalalabad and came to Scotland as an asylum seeker with only the clothes on his back.

He left his home to escape the oppression of the Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

His father was a doctor and the family ran a mixed gender village school which was closed when the Taliban marched in.

Afghanistan had been ruled by corrupt and violent warlords but the Taliban were even worse.

Tony Blair

Asif said: “At first, some people welcomed the Taliban thinking they may be better because they say they are religious but men and women were scared to leave their houses under the Taliban.

“We had to show we were praying constantly. I spoke out against them and was beaten unconscious and my nose was broken when I did not go to the mosque when I was ordered.

“People were imprisoned and murdered for the smallest of things, like having a beard that was not long enough.”

When he wrote to Blair, Asif had asked the Allies to use their power to negotiate a peaceful political solution to oust the Taliban and not leave a power vacuum which would destabilise the region further.

He said it was right to remove the Taliban but then, under the allies, thugs and warlords were empowered despite the veneer of a legitimate parliament.

Asif said: “Bush and Blair used war when they should have used peaceful political negotiations but they didn’t care about the loss of human life. They should be imprisoned for war crimes.”

Asif fears for family members still trapped in the country and believes the allies should have remained and helped the country to stabilise.

He said: “I have a nephew and cousins there. They are staying in, too scared to go out. They have deleted social media in case the Taliban disapprove of anything they have said. They are terrified.”

He did manage to speak to his friend, Afghanistan’s youngest and first female mayor Zarifa Ghafari, who has already survived three attempts on her life from the Taliban who vowed to kill her.

Asif said: “I called to ask how she was. I am worried for her. She was crying. She said, ‘I can’t believe they left us, that they did this to us’.”

Watching the desperate scenes this week, as terrified Afghans tried to get on rescue flights, Asif said the UK must now play its part in giving sanctuary to those who need it.

He said: “Afghanistan has been humiliated and abandoned, now the UK must step up and help the people having to leave their homes because of the power vacuum the invasion left behind.”

Asif is part of a protest being held tomorrow at 6.15pm in Buchanan Street to demand we welcome Afghan refugees.

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