6 Dec 2021

British citizen stranded in Pakistan after fleeing Afghanistan with family

Scotland Correspondent

A British citizen is calling on the government to help him bring his family back from Afghanistan after they were left stranded in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover. 

Jan Ahmadzai, who lives and works as a taxi driver in Glasgow, fled Afghanistan to Pakistan after British officials failed to evacuate him and his family when the Taliban seized control of Kabul.

The Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has previously said that, in some cases, going to a third country would be “a better option” for Afghans fleeing the Taliban, but Channel 4 News understands there is no longer a process for people who entered Pakistan illegally after 5 November to apply for legal status.

The Foreign, Development and Commonwealth Office (FDCO) says they are working with the Pakistan government to address this.

‘It was useless’

Mr Ahmadzai says he travelled towards Kabul airport with his wife and five children, who are Afghan nationals, in the frantic days after the Taliban seized control of the country.

He had received instructions from the FDCO which directed him to the Baron Hotel near the airport where British officials were processing immigration claims.

“We were there for hours and hours every single day, but it was useless,” he said.

They were never seen by British officials and then his family were “inches away” from a bomb that killed dozens of people near the airport, he told Channel 4 News.

Several important documents belonging to his wife and children were damaged during the chaos that followed the bomb attack.

Mr Ahmadzai then received an email saying the British evacuation effort had ended.

He returned to Kabul with his family, but soon felt it was too dangerous living under Taliban rule and they fled to Pakistan.

He said: “My wee daughter Leena, she wants to study further. I’m sure, if I send them back to Afghanistan, the Taliban will not let her study further.”

A government spokesperson said: “The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) is one of the most generous schemes in our country’s history and will give up to 20,000 further people at risk a new life in the UK.

“The UK has supported over 3,000 individuals to leave Afghanistan since the end of the evacuation in August. This includes over 1,100 British nationals and eligible dependents.

“We continue to work to ensure those still in Afghanistan are able to depart the country safely. This includes holding the Taliban to their commitment to ensure safe passage.”

They added: “We will continue to do all we can to secure safe passage to enable British nationals and eligible Afghans to leave the country.”