British Chargé d’Affaires ends assignment with an emphasis on dialogue with the Taliban

The British Chargé d’Affaires for the Doha based UK Mission to Afghanistan, Hugo Shorter, has ended his assignment by emphasising on dialogue as the way forward to overcome the Afghan conflict.

Appointed in January 2022, Hugo Shorter said in a Twitter thread:

“For better or worse, the UK and Afghanistan have a long shared history. This means the British and Afghan people share a genuine bond. So our commitment to working towards a more stable and prosperous future for Afghanistan is steadfast.”

“Our priority has been life-saving support to the estimated 28m Afghans in need. The UK has disbursed over $600m of humanitarian aid since April 2021, reaching millions of Afghans – & with other donors avoided a full-blown famine last winter. The effort continues.

Over the past year I have engaged with the Taliban and Afghan society. Some will disagree with this, but without dialogue you cannot make progress after years of conflict. Further isolation would not help the Afghan people.”

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Hugo Shorter added that in dealings with the Taliban, “I have been very clear that restrictions on women & girls undermine the basic freedoms of Afghans, & are detrimental to Afghanistan’s long-term growth & stability. This is not a “Western” perspective: it reflects international norms & is shared with Muslim-majority countries.”

The British government has not announced a replacement for Hugo Shorter, whose predecessor, Sir Laure Bristow, who was in Kabul during the Taliban takeover, said in an interview in January, that the Taliban hadn’t changed and warned of terrorist threats from Afghanistan.

And on 10 February, the British Parliament’s Defence Select Committee published a report, which said the withdrawal from Afghanistan has been a “dark chapter” in the British military history.