Did Government ‘simply cave’? National demands answers over residency decision for former vice-president of Afghanistan Sarwar Danish – Stuff.co.nz

Posted: January 17, 2022 at 8:36 am

Stuff

Afghanistans former second vice president, Sarwar Danish

The National Party is demanding answers from Associate Immigration Minister Phil Twyford about the decision to grant residence to a former vice-president of Afghanistan, Sarwar Danish.

Stuff revealed recently that Danish and 13 family members had arrived in New Zealand from Turkey after the Government offered them what Twyford has described as safe haven.

The decision sparked anger and confusion among local Afghans, including a number who served with the New Zealand Defence Force.

An Afghan member of the New Zealand SAS unit based in Kabul from 2009-2012 told Stuff that Afghans who worked with the NZDF should have been prioritised for resettlement not people like Danish, who he said shared responsibility for the collapse of Afghanistans government.

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Its very frustrating that someone from the corrupt leadership of Afghanistan with zero connection to New Zealand has been resettled in this country, when people who directly supported the New Zealand SAS have been left behind, he said.

Another Afghan local who served with the SAS said it was shameful and disgraceful that Danish and his family members had been granted residence when other Afghans who fought alongside our troops had been left behind.

Twyford said in a previous statement that alongside more than 1200 visas issued to Afghans associated with the New Zealand presence in Afghanistan, the Government has also provided safe haven to around 200 Afghans whose lives were at extreme risk from the Taliban, including Sarwar Danish.

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Associate Immigration Minister Phil Twyford.

But Nationals foreign affairs spokesman Gerry Brownlee says the Government needs to explain why [Danish] got priority when he was safely ensconced in Turkey and why so many of his family were able to be repatriated with him.

Most Afghans offered resettlement by New Zealand after the Taliban seized power in August were told they could bring only immediate family members with them, including dependent children. Danish was allowed to bring not only his wife and unmarried children but an adult son and two adult daughters with their spouses and children.

The decision to grant residence to Danish and his family appears to have been made by Twyford. As associate immigration minister, he has discretion to approve applications that fall outside Government residence instructions.

Stuff has previously asked Twyford whether it was reasonable that Danish, who was already in a safe country, was granted residence when former soldiers who fought with the NZDF had not been offered resettlement; however, he did not answer the question.

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff

National foreign affairs spokesman Gerry Brownlee.

Brownlee said Twyford needed to tell the public if pressure was brought to bear on the Government to grant residence to Danish. If it was just diplomatic pressure from other countries then that would mean that theyve simply caved to someone elses view.

Or was there another particularly compelling reason [why Twyford] made this decision ahead of some of those people who would appear to have a much better claim?

Brownlee said there were many Afghans remaining in Afghanistan under threat of loss of life who were directly helpful to either the New Zealand SAS or the de-mining operation that New Zealand undertook in Bamiyan province.

What was the compelling reason for bringing [Danish]? he said. Is this the first of many failed former Afghan government players who will be heading to New Zealand?

Multiple attempts by Stuff to get comment from Danish were unsuccessful.

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Did Government 'simply cave'? National demands answers over residency decision for former vice-president of Afghanistan Sarwar Danish - Stuff.co.nz

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