Afghan interpreter ‘shot by Taliban’ forced to leave family in Pakistan

He previously served in the Australian Defense Forces in Uruzgan between 2010 and 2011. He said he was shot by a Taliban guard at Kabul airport as he was trying to get to the first Australian military evacuation flight on 17 August.

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Image for read more article 'Afghan interpreter' shot in the leg by Taliban 'trying to board Australian rescue flight'

The father of five was later treated at the hospital and returned to the airport queue several times in the coming days with an injured leg in a desperate attempt to board another evacuation plane with his family.

But he was unable to pass crowds in the midst of violence and chaos at the airport gates, and was left behind when Australia suspended its evacuation mission on August 26, before a suicide bombing killed 183 people – including US soldiers – at one of the airport gates. .

As his three-month temporary 449 visa expires in a matter of weeks, and with no flights to Australia from Kabul, Malik decided to take the dangerous journey across the Torkham border into Pakistan, where Taliban guards are routinely stationed and thousands need to to the gates. trying to leave Afghanistan.

“We crossed the border into Islamabad with a lot of trouble with my family,” Malik told SBS News in Dari from Islamabad.

He reached Islamabad two weeks ago and with the help of local Australian authorities he was to fly to Australia on Thursday afternoon AEST.

Malik in hospital after getting shot in the leg at Kabul airport

Source: Delivered


But he has been forced to leave behind his wife and five children – two of whom are under the age of five – because they do not appear on his 449 visa documents.

“I’m crushed,” Malik said.

“I’m really glad I’m on my way to Australia, but my family is being left here and I’m completely in doubt about what to do.”

He said he begged officials at the Australian High Commission in Pakistan to allow passage for his family as well, but was told there was nothing they could do.

“My family, they are very unhappy and everyone is crying, they want to be with me in Australia; they do not want to go back to Afghanistan,” he said.

“Where we lived in Afghanistan, our lives were in danger. I was a target for the Taliban; my family was a target.

“I just wish my family could be reunited in Australia.”

The Interior Ministry has been contacted for comment.

Malik said he was also concerned about some of his former interpreting colleagues remaining trapped in Afghanistan, some of whose temporary visas to Australia expire in the coming days.

More than 2,000 Afghans who were granted the emergency on a three-month 449 visa remain in Afghanistan or other countries after failing to reach evacuation flights in August either.

Among the cohort are former ADF interpreters, who were still waiting for their locally engaged staff visas – reserved for former Australian staff – to be processed at the time of the Taliban’s takeover, but who were assigned the emergency 449s to get on the evacuation flights.

Their visas were to start expiring from Friday onwards. On Monday, a Senate hearing was told that the government had no policy to extend these offshore temporary visas.

But in an 11-hour announcement, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced on Thursday that those whose visas were about to expire and who supported Australia’s mission in Afghanistan, including interpreters, will now have their visas extended on an “ongoing basis”.

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Image for read more article 'Humanitarian visas for Afghans who helped Australian forces extend'

It will also be extended to “persons with other working conditions to the Australian Government and their families who were issued temporary humanitarian visas.”

Several Afghans with 449 visas, who contacted SBS News after the announcement, said they were unsure whether the extension would apply to them.

Mohammad *, a former Afghan government official who was trained by an Australian Defense Forces colonel as part of a NATO mission, said time was running out for him and his Australian 449 visa expires next week.

The former civil servant said he has not been able to cross the border into Pakistan because he is still waiting for border permits for his family members.

“I know many 449 visa holders who are trying to get passports for their children and get visas to a third country, but without success,” Mohammad told SBS News.

A Pakistani paramilitary soldier on the right and Taliban fighters stand guard at a border crossing point between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Torkham.

Source: AP


“It takes 37 to 45 days to issue permits. Crossing borders with Pakistan is another major risk taken by 449 visa holders. “

He said he was too scared to leave the house and remain in hiding with his family in Kabul.

“You can not imagine our situation,” Mohammad said.

“If I am arrested or found, I will be killed because of my working conditions and connection with international forces, especially Australian forces.”

Ahmad *, another Afghan with an expiring 449 visa, hurried across the Pakistani border last week, worried that his visa would not be extended.

He was forced to leave his wife, mother and two young children in Afghanistan because they did not have access to Pakistan.

“The Australian High Commission gave me verbal hope that their visas could be renewed, but they did not promise anything,” he told SBS News.

* Names have been changed to protect identities

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