How Ehsanullah Ehsan fled Pakistani jail? no trace of spokesman for banned TTP sofar

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ISLAMABAD: Ehsanullah Ehsan, the spokesman for the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban who fled Pakistan two weeks before is still untraceable and so many questions are being raised on security system within the country. Senate Standing Com­­mittee on Interior has sought a detailed report about his escape from the country.

Senator Javed Abbasi raised the issue during a meeting of the committee presided over by its chairman Rehman Malik on Monday. He wondered how such a high-profile person who was said to be in prison could escape.

The committee directed the interior ministry to submit a report within three days on Ehsanullah Ehsan’s escape and his audio message. It was reported in the media that the TTP leader had managed to escape from jail and later issued a video message.

It may be recalled that Ehsanullah Ehsan has escaped from the custody of security agencies during a “sensitive operation”. Ehsan had made the announcement regarding his escape in a video clip shared on the social media on Thursday. The claim was confirmed by security officials after one day.

Sources privy to the development said that Ehsan had voluntarily surrendered himself before the intelligence agencies on Feb 5, 2017. However, he started sharing sensitive information even before his arrest, they added.

After initial interrogation, Ehsan recorded his confessional statement on April 26, 2017. He revealed details pertaining to his handlers and facilitators during his captivity.

He shared extremely sensitive and important information during the interrogation, which led security forces to break Jamaatul Ahrar’s national and international terror networks, they said. Several terrorists belonging to the proscribed outfit were also arrested as a result of intel provided by him, they added.

“I am in Turkey, escaped from jail

on Jan 11, will make clear future strategy

soon”; says Ehsan quoted by media

Ehsanullah was to be taken to book, but extracting information to take all ongoing anti-terrorism operations to their logical conclusion was necessary. “Some operations are still underway based on information shared by Ehsanullah,” said the sources, adding that during such an operation, he escaped from his captivity.

All terrorists and extremists, including Ehsanullah, would be taken to the task, said the sources.

In the video, the TTP spokesperson said that he “surrendered” before the security forces and made a signed agreement that guaranteed certain rights to him. However, the security forces allegedly didn’t keep the promises and subsequently detained his family as well.

“My name is Ehsan and I am former member of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Jamaatul Ahrar. On Feb 5, 2017, I handed myself into the hands of Pakistan’s security officials under an agreement and I kept that agreement on my part but I along with my family was detained by the security officials. We faced jail at least three years with patience but we made a plan to escape and finally, we successfully escaped on Jan 11, 2020,” the former spokesperson of the terrorist organisation claimed.

In the audio clip, Ehsan, who is a former spokesman of both the banned TTP and later its offshoot, Jamaatul Ahrar (JuA), claimed that he had escaped from the custody of Pakistani security forces. The TTP and later the JUA have claimed the responsibility for carrying out scores of terrorist attacks on Pakistani soil over the years, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and armed forces personnel.

The audio message, which has by now been widely shared on social media, was originally posted on a Facebook profile by the name of Liaqat Ali. The veracity of the audio message could not, however, be independently verified.

Intelligence sources that DawnNewsTV reached out to neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

Ehsan, whose real name is Liaqat Ali, said that he was forced to flee because Pakistani “institutions” had violated an agreement they had entered into with him, prior to his surrender.

Ehsan began his message by saying that he was “previously” associated with the TTP and JuA.”I had surrendered myself to Pakistan’s secret agencies on February 5, 2017, after an agreement,” he said, adding that though he had abided by the agreement for three years, “Pakistani institutions” had imprisoned him and his children “against the spirit of the agreement”.

He continued: “We tolerated the hardships of imprisonment calmly for three years but eventually we were forced to make a plan to escape from there.

Ehsan went on to claim that he had escaped from custody on January 11, 2020, adding that he will “make clear” his future strategy after deciding it “soon”. The next day, another newspaper ‘The News’ quoted Ehsan as saying that he had escaped to Turkey, adding that he had refused to divulge details of the escape.

Who is Ehsanullah Ehsan?

Ehsan was associated with the TTP and served the outlawed organisation as its spokesperson. In 2014, after a split in the TTP, Ehsan had become a spokesperson for JuA — what was then a newly formed splinter group of the TTP.

Ehsan had claimed responsibility for the horrific attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar in which more than 140 people, most of them children, were killed in December 2014.

In December 2017, the Peshawar High Court had barred the government from releasing Ehsan. The decision was taken by a two-member bench of the court on a writ petition filed by Fazal Khan, father of a student killed in the December 16, 2014, APS attack.

The banned TTP had also claimed responsibility for shooting then 14-year-old peace activist Malala Yousafzai in the head, with Ehsan later issuing a statement using Islamic Shariah to defend the attack.

Security agencies

According to a Gulf News report, Pakistan security agencies are conspicuously silent about the mysterious escape of Ehsanullah Ehsan, one of the most wanted terrorists from their custody.

Even Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has not uttered a word on this issue despite widespread reports in the media around the world. Opposition parties in parliament have also raised questions about Ehsan’s escape but no statement.

The newspaper reported that a number of media outlets have approached the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) — media wing of Pakistan armed forces — but there was reluctance to confirm or deny the news. The silence is leading to misgivings as some reports suggested that he was let go under the agreement after his ‘job was done’ but the truth is yet to be disclosed.

Sooner the better as Pakistan needs to be transparent in the wake of its campaign that it has crushed terrorism to attract tourists and investors from the world. It is appalling to note that no official statement has been given so far. People of Pakistan have the right to know whether the high-profile member of the most feared terrorist group has indeed escaped from military custody.

Malala attack

Ehsanullah Ahsan was spokesperson of the banned outfit TTP which had claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt on Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai and a heinous attack on Army Public School (APS) killing 133 innocent children. The TTP has also claimed to carry out scores of terrorist attacks across Pakistan killing hundreds of people including the armed forces personnel. Parents of the victims of the APS carnage have also filed a petition in the court seeking answers on this issue.

Reactions

While there was no official word confirming or denying the development, netizens continued to demand answers regarding Ehsan’s whereabouts.

Former PPP senator Farhatullah Babar took to Twitter to voice his concern. “Reports that TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan fled from custody highly disturbing. One of the two explanations possible; Complicity or sheer incompetence. What about massacred APS children? Jailing HR defenders and freeing self confessed terrorists. Demand explanation,” he tweeted.

Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement leader and MNA Mohsin Dawar echoed Babar’s thoughts.

“Worrying news coming in that TTP’s Ehsanullah Ehsan has escaped. In no way can this be a result of incompetence. @OfficialDGISPR should confirm or deny this news. We demand a thorough investigation into this incident. No one is listening to our warnings about regrouping Taliban,” he tweeted.

News on surrender

At a press conference on April 17, 2017, the former director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, had announced that Ehsan had turned himself in to Pakistan’s security agencies.”There can be no bigger achievement for Pakistan than the fact that our biggest enemies are now realising the error of their ways and are turning themselves in,” he had said at the time.

“I want to take this opportunity to announce that Ehsanullah Ehsan, the former spokesperson of the TTP and a leader of the Jamaatul Ahrar, has turned himself in to our security agencies.”