Prince Harry manning the 50mm machine gun in Helmand Photo: PA
The Ministry of Defence has dismissed claims by an Afghan warlord that Prince Harry kills insurgents while “drunk” as simply absurd.
By Damien McElroy
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former Afghan prime minister, told the Daily Telegraph that Prince Harry, an Apache attack helicopter pilot, was intoxicated as he killed “innocent Afghans”.
Officials rejected the allegation and said rules prohibited troops from consuming alcohol while deployed on operations.
“The suggestion that any member of the UK armed forces deployed on operations operates under the influence of alcohol is simply absurd – not least because the consumption of alcohol by UK military personnel is not permitted under any circumstances while deployed in Afghanistan.” a Ministry of Defence spokesman said.
“UK troops deployed and remain in Afghanistan to protect our national security by removing what was a safe haven for international terrorism. Now, it is Afghan forces that now have lead security responsibility for around 75% of the population in the country and lead up to 80% of conventional partnered operations.
“It is this sort of progress that has allowed almost 60% of UK bases in Helmand to be shut or handed over and will allow us to leave a stronger more secure Afghanistan when combat operations cease by the end of 2014.” The former Afghan prime minister founder and leader of the Hizb-i-Islamia Party in Afghanistan, accused Britain of being dragged into the war to please its American allies and said its role in the conflict would have no significance after 2014.
Hekmatyar, who was designated a terrorist by the US State Department in February 2003, told the Daily Telegraph: “Britain dragged herself into this unjustified, useless but cruel conflict to please the White House.
“The British did not gain anything, instead they lost blood and treasure.
“They never had a positive role in Afghan affairs and they will not have any significance after 2014.
“I don’t understand how the British public accept their children being sent to certain death in order to please American generals.”
Of Prince Harry, who spent Christmas in Afghanistan where he is currently serving as an Apache helicopter co-pilot gunner, he said: “The British prince comes to Afghanistan to kill innocent Afghans while he is drunk.
“He wants to hunt down Mujahideen with his helicopter’s rockets, without any shame.
“During the Mujahideen’s attack on the American base the prince saw that he was the one about to be hunted and was searching for a hole in which to hide himself.”
The Taliban issued an end-of-year review that compared the impending withdrawal of US-led foreign troops to the 1989 Soviet retreat from Afghanistan and the end of the Vietnam war.
The insurgents’ emailed statement, entitled a “Quick glance at 2012″, said coalition forces had “completely lost their will to fight and practically began the process of withdrawal and retreat”.
“We can unmistakably state that 2012 in Afghanistan for the current occupation was exactly as 1986 was for the former occupation,” the Taliban said.
The year 1986 is widely seen as a turning point in the Soviets’ ten-year presence in Afghanistan, with mujahideen attacks forcing Moscow on the defensive before the military finally left in 1989.
“When America faced utter destruction in Vietnam, they came up with the formula ‘Declare victory and run’ and want to utilise the formula of ‘Transfer security and run’ here in Afghanistan,” the statement added.
“In reality, they want to flee from Afghanistan just as they turned tail and ran from Vietnam.”
The NATO coalition, fighting an 11-year Taliban insurgency, reduced troop numbers by about 30,000 in 2012 and is due to end its combat mission in 2014.
Hekmatyar vowed to inflict further bloodshed before the withdrawal.
“Before the withdrawal of invading forces the Mujahideen would like to witness with their own eyes a scene that will teach the invaders to never think of coming this way again,” he said. “And also the others who have bad intentions and are waiting to invade Afghanistan.”