Wolverhampton woman’s call for help to rescue Afghan pilot father forced into hiding
Leza Mohammed said she constantly fears for the safety of her father, Major Shamsullah Shirzad, who was trained by NATO and fought alongside allies to prevent the country from becoming a haven for international terrorists.
Since the Taliban took over Kabul in August 2021, forcing her father into hiding, Ms Mohammed – who lives in Whitmore Reans with her family – has been desperate for a way to get him to safety in the UK.
“Because of who my father is and the work he did in the Afghan Air Force, if the Taliban find him, I’m pretty sure they will kill him,” she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
“I have the constant concern of this every day. I manage to talk to my dad on the phone very occasionally, but most of the time I don’t know what’s going on there. It had a very big effect on my mental health and my anxiety is very bad.
“No one expected the Taliban to take power so quickly. My father’s passport had expired and he never had the chance to apply for a new one because the situation changed so quickly.
“Now, because of biometrics and everything, he can’t even apply for a passport – even if he wants to go to Pakistan.
“I hope someone in the government can help us get the necessary permission to bring him back here to safety. We have plenty of room in our house so he can easily live here,” she said. added.
“We would like him to be able to apply for British citizenship. Moreover, he would not be a burden on the government. He speaks perfect English and is a qualified person. As well as being an experienced pilot, he is also a tailor.
Ms Mohammed, born in Afghanistan, contacted local councilor Qaiser Azeem, who represents the Saint-Pierre district where she lives.
He in turn reported his fate to Wolverhampton MP Stuart Anderson.
“This is a very difficult and worrying situation for the family,” Councilor Azeem said. “Unfortunately as councilors we are somewhat limited in what we can actually do which is why I immediately referred the matter to the local MP.
“The family needs a lot more support and I would appeal to any local organizations that can help them in any way possible to get in touch with me.”
Reports say Afghanistan is currently facing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with an economy running out of money to pay salaries or buy food following the suspension of Western aid. .
After the Local Democracy Reporting Service contacted Mr. Anderson about Ms. Mohammed’s situation, his office issued the following statement: “We owe immense gratitude to all those who put their lives at risk working alongside the United Kingdom in Afghanistan.
“While it is not appropriate for me to comment publicly on individual cases, I fully support the government’s ongoing work to resettle those at risk who have supported UK and international efforts in Afghanistan, as well as those who are particularly vulnerable due to the current situation there.
“I have notified the government of every case raised with me after receiving them. I know the government continues to work at a brisk pace to review every case.
“While processing times for individual cases vary due to the complexity and personal circumstances of each individual, I am constantly monitoring each case and regularly requesting updates on them,” he added.
“These schemes remain open and will continue to facilitate the relocation of people who have worked with the UK in Afghanistan.”
Councilor Azeem said he felt the MP’s office should provide much more support to the family.
“As St Peter’s Ward Councilor, I will stay in close contact with the family and provide all the necessary support possible during this difficult time.
“A former Afghan Air Force soldier who worked with British forces deserves so much more when his life is in danger,” he added.