Tom Tugendhat shot down Taliban claims that Britons stranded in Afghanistan will be allowed to leave safely – accusing the Islamists of running ‘a slick PR operation masking a vicious death cult.’
The Tory MP, a former Army Lieutenant Colonel who served in Helmand, hit out after a Taliban spokesman appeared on Good Morning Britain to claim that anyone ‘with proper documents’ will be allowed out once civilian flights restart.
‘I’m afraid your viewers have just been lied to,’ Mr Tugendhat said. ‘It’s absolutely clear that groups who make up the Taliban… have been rounding up people in Lashkar Gah and Kandahar and hunting them down in Kabul and killing them.
‘Universities are being closed… women are being denied access to education, girls are being denied access to education, and civil servants, female civil servants, are being sent home,’ he added.
Mr Tugendhat spoke out after it emerged that MI6 chiefs have met with the Taliban to discuss the fate of hundreds of Britons left behind when RAF mercy flights out of the country stopped.
Special envoy Sir Simon Gass, the chair or the Joint Intelligence Committee, met senior representatives of the group in Qatar to try to secure safe passage for those left behind.
That number include hundreds of British citizens and up to 9,000 Afghans who helped western forces in exchange for a promise of sanctuary, the report said.
Officers from MI6 also met the militia group, while the head of MI6 Richard Moore flew to Islamabad for talks with the head of the Pakistani army.
Speaking from his base in Doha, Shaheen sought to reassure GMB viewers that that Taliban are working to protect those left behind.
‘Every Afghan citizen who is intending to go abroad to another country and has proper documents like passports, visas – they can go. And they can also come to Afghanistan,’ he said.
‘But we urge them to stay in Afghanistan. As we have gained our independence, it is time for all Afghans to build their country. their capacities, their talents are direly needed.’
Downing Street confirmed ‘broad discussions’ with the Taliban had got under way.
A government source said: ‘The Prime Minister’s special representative for Afghan transition, Simon Gass, has travelled to Doha and is meeting with senior Taliban representatives to underline the importance of safe passage out of Afghanistan for British nationals, and those Afghans who have worked with us over the past 20 years.’
It comes as the Home Office said around 10,000 refugees from Afghanistan who risked their lives to help British forces would be allowed to live and work indefinitely in the UK.