The Head of Armed Forces has insisted it is too soon to say that Afghanistan is going to "hell in a handcart" after Boris Johnson voiced concerns about the country.

Gen Sir Nick Carter cautioned against "writing off" Afghanistan because "the truth may become a prophecy".

He said: "We’re very quick to suggest this is gonna go to hell in a handcart. It’s too early to suggest that."

It comes after the Prime Minister told MPs last week he was not "happy" about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, as he admitted he was "apprehensive" and that "the situation is fraught with risks".

Mr Johnson later paid tribute to all those who had served in Afghanistan, telling the Commons: "The threat that brought us to Afghanistan in the first place has been greatly diminished by the valour and by the sacrifice of the Armed Forces of Britain, and many other countries.

"We are safer because of everything they did."

However Sir Nick insisted on Sunday that "Afghanistan is a very different country to the one that we entered in 2001".

He cited a "burgeoning civil society" and the fact that the country had its own media and "an education system".

He told The Andrew Marr Show: “The plain fact is that not a day goes by without me thinking of the 457 British military who lost their lives in Afghanistan.

"And I think that all of us can hold our heads up high who fought there because we weren’t defeated tactically on the battlefield, and our military showed phenomenal courage and remarkable adaptability against what was a very, very challenging opponent."

Sir Nick added that he was hopeful for a "political compromise" between the Taliban and Afghan government, but warned of the "risk that the state could fracture, and you could end up with the different ethnicities, breaking the country up as they did in the 1990s".

He said that the most likely way a "compromise" could be achieved would be if the Afghan government was able to retain the provincial capitals.

Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

Sir Nick, pictured above, said the Afghan government is "pursuing a very sensible strategy of consolidation at the moment", where they are "not going to fight for every rural area because they don’t need to".

His comments come as the country has seen a cascade of Taliban gains in recent weeks.

In Kandahar, India was forced to evacuate dozens of diplomats and security personnel from its consulate, as heavy fighting continued around the southern city. 

"The Consulate General of India has not been closed," India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement. "However, due to the intense fighting near Kandahar city, India based personnel have been brought back for the time being.

"This is purely a temporary measure until the situation stabilises. The consulate continues to operate through our local staff members."

A security source said about 50 Indian personnel, including some six diplomats, were evacuated.

Several nations have begun to scale back diplomatic operations as rural districts have been swept from government control.

Last week, Russia and Iran both said they had closed consulates in the north of the country.

Earlier this month China also evacuated 210 nationals from the country.

The Taliban claimed last week that they now control 85 per cent of Afghanistan, much of it grabbed since early May when America began the final stages of its withdrawal.

In Helmand province, for example, Taliban fighters were reported to have captured Garmsir district centre, south of the capital Lashkar Gah.

However, the Afghan government strongly denies the Taliban have made such significant gains and say the militants have yet to take a major town or city.