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April 30, 2017

Inside story of TTP-JA spokesman’s surrender


April 30, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Liaqat Ali alias Ehsanullah Ehsan would not face any terrorism or criminal case against him in any court of law including the military court, as he returned after getting assurances from security establishment and promise to share secrets of Taliban.

“Ehsan has been assured that no case would be initiated or pursued against him including those which are already registered against him,” highly placed sources revealed to The News here on Thursday.

The sources claimed that Asmatullah Moavia, another former militant commander who once headed Punjabi Taliban, played a key role in bringing back Ehsanullah Ehsan, former spokesman of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Jamaatul Ahrar (JA).

“Moavia connected Ehsanullah with a security agency which resulted in the return of former TTP-JA spokesman,“ sources further revealed.

Asmatullah Moavia was the first top militant commander who left TTP from North Waziristan and returned to settled areas of Pakistan in July 2014 after securing amnesty from the security and intelligence officials.

A source who is privy to the details of surrender revealed that Moavia is a close friend of Ehsan, who first initiated a debate with fomer in 2015. Moavia successfully convinced Ehsan following.

Moavia in his latest statement issued on his social media account gives a background of his relationship with Ehsan saying he was introduced to him since he was appointed as spokesman of TTP.

He said, “After my return under an agreement, almost 20 months ago, we again got connected and our connection remained until his return. He kept consulting me regarding his return however he had the right of decision which he took and returned”.

The sources claim that Moavia contacted a security agency and shared that Ehsan wants to talk directly.

The sources claim that the approval to contact Ehsan was given by the security agency chief following which certain officers were deputed to carry forward the assignment to its logical end. The sources add that Ehsan surrendered himself along his wife and a son at Pak-Afghan border near Chaman on February 6.

But his surrender was not announced until April 17, 2017 by the director general of Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR). The delay was for the obvious reasons to get some specific intelligence from the new “asset” and carry some quick operations. It is yet a secret whether during the period between February 7 to April 17, intelligence community could retrieve some immediate actionable intelligence or not.

After the formal announcement of his surrender by the DG ISPR the TTP-JA spokesman Asad Mansor responded by his statement on very day, claiming that Ehsan along with two others were arrested from Paktika province of Afghanistan. However he did not share who were the other two who got arrested. Actually Ehsan was accompanying his wife and son when he surrendered.

He kept claiming the brutal attacks of TTP and JA on innocent citizens including women and children. 

Ehsan belongs to Mohmand Agency and is also a Pashtu language poet. He once had shared with this correspondent that he translated poetry of famous romantic Urdu poet, late Ahmad Faraz in Pashtu.

Besides the surety of not opening the cases against him he has also been assured of security, accommodation and food.

The sources are mum if the returned militant commander has been provided a stipend or not. This is also not clear that the arrangement to provide Ehsan security, accommodation and food will be for how much period.

Moavia who had left TTP was later declared as an agent of another agency by a less known militant organisation Ansarul Mujahideen in September 2014. Interestingly he renounced TTP in a video message in which he said his faction of Taliban would continue its operations in Afghanistan against NATO and ISAF forces. He had also urged other Taliban groups in Pakistan to renounce violence and return to the peace process with the government.

He hails from Vehri district of Punjab and is now living a silent life in Peshawar with a high security. No one knows what he is doing and how he is running his life. The fate of Ehsan seems similar to that of Moavia.

Moavia in the same statement also points out that 85 people including real brother of Hakimullah Mehsud and Sheikh Abdur Rahim, a close aide of Hakimullah Mehsud surrendered before the state. 

However, there are others who challenge this narrative. Among them are the relatives of the people died in the militant attacks.

“How can I forgive my enemy Ehsanullah Ehsan, he is a murderer. State should first get the opinion of those whose loved ones got killed due to people like him. Go ask the mothers of the martyred students of Army public school,” said Nourin Aslam, the widow of Ch Aslam, while talking to this correspondent.

Ehsanullah Ehsan is also a nominated accused in the attack of Ch Aslam’s residence in Karachi on September 19, 2011 in which several body guards of Ch Aslam got killed. Ch Aslam was a renowned superintendent of police in Karachi who died in a suicide attack in Karachi on January 9, 2014. He was known for his bravery in fighting militants.

In this regard when former Inspector General of Punjab Police Shaukat Javed was contacted he said that Ehsanullah Ehsan was pulled out of mainstream by Taliban so there was no option left with him but to surrender. Former IGP termed Ehsan’s surrender a good catch which would ultimately help security forces to know modus operandi and other details about Taliban.

Federal government time and again kept assuring its domestic and international audience that they are not differentiating between good and bad Taliban rather they are equally treating with all the militants.

Until now the government has not shared its policy (if it has a policy) with the parliament regarding reintegration of militants.