A CONSERVATIVE MP has claimed that Afghanistan is “a country transformed” under Taliban rule.

Tobias Ellwood – who is chair of the defence select committee – sparked outrage after he shared a video on social media where he claimed that the streets of the country are "relatively safe" and "corruption is down".

Writing in the Telegraph, Tobias Ellwood also urged the UK to reopen its embassy in Kabul and negotiate with the Taliban.

His comments come despite a dramatic slide in women’s rights in the country since they returned to power in 2021.

SNP MP and defence spokesperson Dave Doogan said “far greater pressure” must be placed on the Taliban to reinstate equality for women and girls.

He said: “Any assessment of apparent value in renewed stability in Afghanistan under the Taliban must have the rights of women and girls at its core.

“Far greater pressure must be brought to bear on the Taliban to reinstate equality of education and employment for women and girls which is clearly in the interests of all Afghan society.”

Many also took to social media to slam Ellwood, including former SNP councillor Mhairi Hunter who called him a “fool”.

She tweeted: “Bizarre. I mean there is a legitimate debate about what level of engagement with the regime is appropriate but this is basically a puff piece for the Taliban. He is chair of the Defence Select Committee as well as being a fool.”

Nik Sunil Williams, who works as an adviser for Women in Journalism, added: “This is actually really upsetting. We have been working with at risk journalists and HRDs from Afghanistan and hearing the horrors they have endured and knowing there is little the UK can offer, only to hear this hagiography from a sitting MP.”

Others accused Ellwood of producing "propaganda" or "political PR" for the Taliban.

Ellwood stressed he is “far from” being a “Taliban appeaser” and added that 20 years ago his brother was killed by Islamic extremists.

Ellwood, who is also a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, said that during a recent trip to Afghanistan, he “witnessed unreported compromises the war-exhausted nation is currently willing to accept”.

Ellwood said he saw improved security, free travel and the disappearance of widespread corruption, adding the black market opium trade is “seemingly gone”.

He said: “This war-torn nation has not experienced relative peace like this since the 1970s.

“This, to put it mildly, was not what I was expecting.

“After a dozen visits to the country urging Nato and the UN to do exactly what the Taliban have now achieved, I had to grapple with the harsh reality of the West’s strategic missteps.”

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The MP for Bournemouth East said it is time for Britain to “rethink and re-engage” with Afghanistan and the Taliban.

He said: “The first step is reopening our embassy.

“The second is to get real. Afghanistan’s future could be war again or life as a Chinese vassal.”

Nato left Afghanistan nearly two years ago, which saw the Taliban take back power in the country.

The Taliban brought back bans on education for girls and laws stopping women from going to work.

The Taliban also banned women’s beauty salons, adding on laws that prevent women from being in public spaces like parks and gyms.

Elwood said: “The British Embassy is closed for political rather than security reasons.

“Of course, this boycott endures because of the Taliban’s regressive laws against women’s education and employment.

“If the West continues to sulk we could be making another blunder which pushes the nation to a fiscal cliff, potentially igniting another cycle of instability, terrorism and mass migration.

“A more pragmatic strategy is needed. The Taliban’s restrictions on women’s rights may well serve as a negotiation tool for shared understanding. But such a possibility will remain unknown until we wake up.”

Elwood's comments were also condemned by senior Tory MPs. 

Conservative former leader Iain Duncan Smith claimed the video was “not a very welcome statement”, while Conservative defence committee member Mark Francois said Ellwood should be “very careful” in expressing his views if he wanted to remain as chair of the committee.

Veterans minister Johnny Mercer said: “I think members do have to be extremely careful around identifying when they are speaking for themselves or when they are representing a group of individuals and elected Members of this House.

“As I said previously, the Government’s position remains unchanged. The fall of Afghanistan was a tragedy, the Taliban, we fought them for many years, 457 British service personnel lost their lives in Afghanistan in pursuit of freedom and peace and women’s rights that are all not in Afghanistan today.”