Then a colonel, the Brigadier General is on the far left, his son (now dead) in the centre, and two members of the Portuguese military on the right

Afghan general pleas for asylum

Abdul Hadi Fahim wears Portuguese military honour with pride

Abdul Hadi Fahim was a mere colonel when he received the Medalha Cruz de São Jorge roughly 10 years ago, following a mentoring operation by Portuguese forces in his country.

Since then a lot has changed.

Afghanistan is in the hands of the Taliban; Sharia Law is back in force; women cannot work or be educated; former government and military personnel have been executed – and the former colonel who rose to the rank of Brigadier General fears for his life and those of his remaining family members.

His son (photographed above in the centre, during better times when the Portuguese were helping rebuild Afghanistan) has already been assassinated.

The family is currently in Iran, but their permission to stay runs out early next week. They will then be considered ‘illegals’ and may be forced to return to Afghanistan… and almost certain death.

Thus, the tenuous but nonetheless prestigious connection to Portugal, has found Abdul Hadi Fahim seeking asylum here, for himself and his family (including grandchildren).

Recalling the days when Afghanistan was being helped by forces deployed by the United Nations, he said: “We worked in conjunctions with various Portuguese teams. They gave us a lot of advice in terms of reconstruction (of the country), advice on (how to run) schools and education, health… we had contact with them and worked in a very open way”.

It was as a result of this close, honest working relationship that the then colonel received his military honour.

He just hopes now that Portugal will extend him the permission to come and live here, and be safe.

Says SIC, he has sent a request to the Ministry of Defence, but so far, no response has been forthcoming.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com