Ex-Army translator wants to swap burgers for Nato role

Parvaiz Malikzada
Image caption Parvaiz Malikzada said he felt the rules were too stringent

An Afghan interpreter who risked his life helping the British army says government rules have left him serving burgers instead of working with Nato.

Parvaiz Malikzada, 28, fled to the UK from Afghanistan in 2012 but wants to upgrade from his fast food job in Leicester to a well-paid military role.

Afghans usually need 10 years UK residency to get security clearance from the government to work at Nato.

The Ministry of Defence said it was reviewing the rules.

Mr Malikzada spent three years working with British troops in his home country and narrowly survived an explosion that left him with serious burns.

Seven years ago he fled to the UK from Afghanistan after the Taliban discovered he had worked with the British army and tried to kill him.

He currently works at McDonald’s in Leicester but has applied to become a translator at one of Nato’s Afghanistan bases, where he believes he will be relatively safe.

However, his application was rejected as the government would not grant him security clearance.

Afghans are usually required to have been UK residents for 10 or more years before receiving clearance.

Image caption Mr Malikzada spent more than three years helping the British army

Mr Malikzada said during his time with the Army he worked with high profile people and ate in the same dining area as Prince Harry, so doesn’t understand why he cannot be given security clearance now.

He said: “If we were trustworthy at that time in a dangerous time in Helmand Province – that’s a really dangerous place – why not now?”

Rules review

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said it could not comment on individual cases but its security vetting policy guidelines were “not absolute requirements” and decisions were decided on a case-by-case basis.

Last week, Defence Minister Earl Howe said during a parliamentary debate: “We are reviewing our national security vetting policies alongside wider work on the government’s vetting reform programme.

“The MoD’s review will include an assessment of the criteria applied to interpreters, specifically those deployed in operational theatres.”

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