The mystery of Taliban leader Ehsanullah’s ‘escape’
Mystery surrounds the sudden escape of top Talibani leader and prime accused of Peshawar’s Army Public School (APS) terror attack Ehsanullah Ehsan.
Ehsanullah had surrendered himself to a Pakistani security agency under an agreement some three years ago, with reports saying that he fled during one of the operations to capture and target terrorists.
According to reports, Ehsan had to be tried for his crimes but before the trial, all possible information had to be extracted from him to conclude the operations and that it was during one such operation that he was able to flee.
His escape came as a huge shock to the families of 140 victims who were ruthlessly killed in the 2014 attack on Peshawar’s Army Public School (APS).
Shouting slogans against the former Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant’s escape, the families of students approached Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed and demanded that the government address their questions surrounding Ehsan’s escape.
In their application, the parents questioned how the former militant was able to leave the country. “How could he flee from custody or whether he is released with some conditions,” the application read, adding that “what kind of agreement was made with [Ehsan] to keep him alive for three years despite his confessional statement for being involved in many killings of students and staff of APS.”
The application urged the authorities concerned to explain “why the state failed in bringing [Ehsan] to justice”. However, their application received no response.
After numerous speculations of Ehsan being in Turkey and Afghanistan, latest reports have revealed that the militant has been traced to Islamabad.
Ehsanullah Ehsan “fled” the jail or, to be more precise, the safe house where he was living in Pakistani Army’s custody, according to a video he released in January this year.
Ehsan, who took responsibility for the attempt murder of Malala Yousafzai and for the attack at the Peshawar school (where the victms mostly belonged to Army families) had been taken by the ISI from Afghanistan in 2017.
Shortly after, he was allowed an interview to Geo-TV, where he ‘confessed’ to be paid and funded by India’s RAW agency and became one of the ‘witnesses’ in Kulbushan Yadav case.
Interestingly enough, while he was official under arrest, he was never presented in front of a court which makes it looks like he was more under protection of the Army than he was in jail. In fact, according to analyst Faran Jeffrey, the video circulating on social media in which Ehsanullah gave the news of his escape, “was first shared by a Twitter account claiming to represent Ehsan”.
The Twitter account was created in January 2020. The Twitter account links to a Facebook account named Liaqat Ali, which is Ehsan’s real name. The Facebook account was created in September 2016.
The Facebook account has been active throughout 2018-19, when Ehsan was in jail. Moreover, it has “Islamabad” as its current location. The Facebook account has been posting almost every month (sometimes multiple times a month) throughout this time.
According to analysts, Ehsan’s escape is considered to be an “inside job”. For Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, this is just another confirmation of what Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) activists have been repeating: “Taliban are back in the region or, better, they never really left”.
Manzoor Pashteen, the PTM chief, and the other members of the movement has, on many occasions, denounced the connivance between the Army and Taliban.
“Pakistani Army is playing a double role. On one side they tell us that they are against Taliban but in fact, they give them an opportunity to displace people from an area, giving the Taliban an opportunity to make that area their foothold”.
PTM has been accusing the Army for a long time of using border regions as training camps and nurseries for jihadi, as battlefields for war-like actions against the ‘bad’ Taliban, and as a safe haven for the ‘good’ Taliban.
According to local sources, Taliban have been given again a clean chit by the Army to restart their activities in the region in order to pressurize the international community on the Kashmir issue.
The sources also said that well-known commanders have been allotted in areas of influence as members of the so called ‘Peace Committees’.
The same Committees that ordered to burn five people alive and issued statements preventing people from administering polio drops to children, play music or using DJ at weddings, preventing men from shaving their beard, and women from leaving the house alone.
Locals say that only Taliban are allowed to roam freely in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
“Taliban are recruiting people, harboring terrorists coming from other parts of Pakistan and they all work under the patronage of Pakistani military” says an activist. Many, in the area, believe that Ehsanullah’s escape would only be an occasion for the Army to start another military operation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa targeting PTM activists.