Kim Sengupta: Kabul still isn't safe for those hunted down by extremists

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The Independent Online

Abdullah Tokhi was shot dead at midday, in a crowded bazaar. It was a very public "execution", showing that his killers were confident that they would never be brought to account.

I was in Afghanistan at the time and covered the murder of Mr Tokhi. His family told me how he had pleaded while seeking asylum in Britain that his life would be in danger in a political feud back home. But the Home Secretary at the time decided that Afghanistan, "liberated" by US and British forces, was a safe place.

Mr Tokhi's death was in 2005. The security situation is much worse. The insurgents regularly carry out large scale assaults on the capital. The immigration tribunal's ruling on the case of Sultan Mahmood that Kabul is safe – based on evidence of Home Office officials who are unlikely to have tested this security themselves on the ground – is spurious. If the Taliban want to kill him, there will be little to stop them.

There is another aspect to this. Col Mahmood's application was rejected around the same time that two Pakistanis, Abid Naseer described as an "al-Qa'ida operative... and posed a serious threat to national security" and Ahmad Faraz Khan who was "willing to participate" in Naseer's "plans", won the right to stay in Britain. The Special Immigration Appeals Commission ruled that although it would "be conductive to the public good" if they were deported, the "issue of safety on return" made it impossible to send them back to Pakistan.

Col Mahmood stressed he lived by principles which made him take a firm stand against extremism, and for this he had paid a high price.

He could be forgiven for thinking that he would have had a far better chance of staying in Britain if he had embraced extremism instead.