Saturday 28 August 2021

Has Paul 'Pen' Farthing left Afghanistan?

Yes, he has left. Finally, after much animosity between Farthing and the MOD, he took off with his 94 dogs and 79 cats at 4:30 pm, Saturday 28th 2021 from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. It's been reported that he travelled to the capital of Uzbekistan initially with the ultimate destination being England.

The report is from The Telegraph online newspaper. Earlier reports in various news media outlets support this as they reported on a gradual, tortuous and dangerous progress towards the moment when they were evacuated. However, the news that Farthing has got out is not 100% guaranteed as news from Kabul is a bit shaky at times.

Has Paul 'Pen' Farthing left Afghanistan?
Has Paul 'Pen' Farthing left Afghanistan? Yes.

Mr Farthing was highly critical of the MoD, particularly the special adviser to Ben Wallace the Defence Secretary who he claims unreasonably delayed evacuation. Farthing claims that if the MoD had been more efficient and reasonable, he would have got his staff out as well. As it happens, they have stayed behind.

Also, there were other animals, not cats or dogs, who have remained at the Nowzad animal sanctuary in Kabul. His staff had visas to leave. It must be particularly galling for him and for his dedicated staff members to be left behind through, as he sees it, MoD inefficiencies.

The MoD argue that they didn't want anybody queue jumping. I suspect that the MoD thought the 'optics' to use a modern term were not good because it would have meant seeing dogs and cats being prioritised over people. But that was not the case because Mr Farthing had made his own arrangements using private donations to charter an aircraft.

Therefore, he was not queue jumping. He was adding to the number of aircraft available. In fact, he suggested that because there were seats available on his aircraft, he could take some people as well. I'm afraid it looks like the MoD were bogged down in their own bureaucracy and it indicates poor decision-making but that is a personal comment.

It has to be said that it has been a very trying saga to get his animals out of Afghanistan. There were numerous obstacles, difficulties and dangers. It must have been enormously stressful for all concerned. And I include in that the animals who at one stage were in a vehicle, cheek by jowl, in cages, in sweltering heat for 10 hours. And he said that at one stage he had an AK-47 stuffed in his face. He may have been lucky to survive the experience.

I think at that point Mr Farthing was concerned whether the animals would actually survive the journey to the airport which must have been quite a short one in terms of distance but a mountain in terms of time.

At one stage he got into the perimeter of the airport but not into the airport itself as he was turned back. He blames that moment on President Biden who just before had changed the rules about who was allowed out.

If you want to read some background information on this then please tick on this link.

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