Tobias Ellwood, a Tory MP, has been chastised for calling for Taliban re-engagement.

A top Conservative MP has been chastised for claiming that the Taliban have “transformed” Afghanistan.

Former defence minister Tobias Ellwood said in a video uploaded from the country on Monday that corruption was on the decline and security had “significantly improved.”

Fellow Conservative Mark Francois described the film as “bizarre,” while former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said it was “unwelcome.”

Mr Ellwood’s assessment was rejected by Downing Street.

Mr Ellwood, on the other hand, defended his remarks, stating that the country’s stability was on a “different level” than during times of strife.

In an interview with BBC News, he said it was time for the UK to build diplomatic ties with the Taliban rather than “shouting from afar.”

Following the Taliban’s takeover of the nation in August 2021, British diplomatic and embassy personnel were withdrawn.

Mr Ellwood, who chairs the Commons military select committee, tweeted his video while on a landmine clearance mission in Helmand province.

The Bournemouth East MP described Afghanistan as “a country transformed,” with solar panels appearing “everywhere” and the country’s opium trade “all but vanished.”

“For the time being, this war-weary nation is accepting a more authoritarian leadership in exchange for stability,” he added, while urging the West to “re-engage” diplomatically.

He went on to say that reopening the British embassy would be a method to “incrementally” encourage “progressive changes” in areas such as girls’ education and female workers’ rights.

However, Sir Iain remarked in the Commons on Tuesday that the video was “not a very welcome statement to have made” considering the “persecutions that have occurred in Afghanistan.”

‘Brought a light’

Mr. Francois, who is also a member of the defense committee, stated that the movie “made no mention of the fact that the Taliban is still attempting to identify and kill Afghan citizens who assisted our armed forces, or of the fact that young girls in Afghanistan do not even have the right to go to school.”

Mr Ellwood, whose brother was murdered in the Bali bombings in 2002, said he wanted to ensure that terrorism would not “flourish” in Afghanistan.

He told BBC News that he knew his statements would “create waves,” but he was glad he had “shed light on a country that we ran away from.”

“The current strategy of us shouting from afar to try to effect the agenda in Afghanistan is not working,” he stated, adding that he was speaking on behalf of “an individual MP.”

“We need to engage more directly and robustly, which we can do if we open the [British] embassy.”

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