Minister says veterans reconciled to Taliban being part of Afghan solution

20 August 2021, 10:00 | Updated: 20 August 2021, 12:58

By Emma Soteriou

Armed forces minister James Heappey has said veterans would have reconciled themselves to the fact the Taliban were "always going to be" part of the Afghan solution.

It comes as other veteran MPs have voiced their disappointment at the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, allowing the Taliban to take total control.

Speaking to LBC, Mr Heappey said: "12 years ago, I was in Sangin and I saw [the Taliban] as the most bitter of enemies.

"That was one of the hardest six months of my life in which I saw things that I never want to have to see again and that I'll never be able to forget.

"But at least I came home with all of my limbs, and my life.

"The reality, however, is that anybody that serves knows, is that peace is imperfect."

Having served in Kabul, Northern Ireland, Basra and Kenya, the Conservative MP has had first-hand experience on the front line.

He went on to say: "I know deep down that the Taliban were always going to be part of the solution in Afghanistan and, frankly, I think that me - like many other veterans - would have reconciled themselves to that - even if, of course, it hurts when the time comes."

Read more: 'We're not trained to lose': Veteran MPs condemn 'shameful' Afghanistan withdrawal

Read more: 'Thought of leaving people behind keeps me awake at night', Defence minister says

It comes as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is facing added pressure following the revelation that a delegated call to his Afghan counterpart did not happen.

The MP has already been criticised for being 'too busy' to help Afghan translators, despite being on holiday.

Mr Heappey reiterated Defence Secretary Ben Wallace's statement in support of Mr Raab, saying: "I don't have the detail of those call sheets.

"I am, however, certain from everything that I see in this job here in the MoD that no one phone call would have made a difference at that point either to the trajectory of the collapse of the government of Afghanistan nor the speed of which we've been able to put the evacuation plan into place."