The former Conservative Party leader branded Sir Nick’s comments as “peculiar” before insisted that the Taliban will not “change its spots”. Gen Sir Nick, Chief of the Defence Staff, said on Wednesday that the world needs to be patient and “hold its nerve” to see what Afghanistan’s future will look like under a Taliban-led government. Asked about his comments, Sir Iain told LBC: “I didn’t make much of it, I’ll be honest with you.
“I thought it was peculiar – what are we giving the Taliban time to do?”
He continued: “I’ve got a woman we’ve finally got through who got a punishment beating from the Taliban.
“This is not a leopard that is about to change its spots, it is a brutal, intolerant organisation that’s already been carrying out arbitrary executions and punishment beatings.
“I’m not sure what General Carter thinks we need to give them time to prove – I think they’ve already proven who they are.”
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It comes as UK troops in Afghanistan have said they are facing challenges “nobody has experienced before”, as a former defence chief warned the Kabul airport evacuation is the “worst possible scenario”.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed on Sunday that seven Afghan civilians had died in the chaotic crowds outside the airport, while reports have suggested as many 20 people have been killed in the past week while trying to get into the airfield.
The Operation Pitting rescue mission is being supported by 1,000 British troops – including Paras from 16 Air Assault Brigade – with a further 1,700 people repatriated in the past 24 hours.
Ministers are desperate for US President Joe Biden to keep American forces on the ground beyond his August 31 deadline, with Labour calling for the Prime Minister to phone the UK ally to extend the exit date.
Boris Johnson confirmed on social media that he will convene G7 leaders, which will include Mr Biden, on Tuesday for “urgent talks” on the situation in Afghanistan.
Lieutenant Colonel Justin Baker from 16 Air Assault Brigade, stationed at the passenger handling facility at Hamid Karzai airport, said: “I think this is something that nobody has really experienced before, so we are facing challenges that nobody has experience for.”
Former chief of the defence staff Lord Richards said UK forces securing the air strip are in a “very precarious situation”, with little protection from security threats posed by the likes of so-called Islamic State.
“I’ve done a few of these non-combat evacuation operations in my time and this is the worst possible scenario, when you are unable to clear a space between the airhead and your possible threat, which is exactly what is happening now,” he told Times Radio.
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“They are right on top of people and we’ve seen the tragic scenes coming out of Kabul airport, so it is not a good situation.”
Armed forces minister James Heappey said British troops are “seeing things that are unimaginably hard to deal with”, with reports of overcrowding and violence in the Kabul heat.
However, he said there have been “very encouraging” improvements at the Baron Hotel in Kabul, where Britons and Afghans eligible for repatriation are being processed, following reports earlier this weekend that it had been blockaded by the Taliban.
He said the “flow” outside the hotel is “significantly” better following changes to crowd control by the militant regime, with 731 people processed for UK flights on Sunday morning alone.
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