Twitter profile photo of Ehsanullah Ehsan former Pakistan Taliban spokesperson
(real name Liaqat Ali)
Ehsanullah Ehsan, a former spokesperson for the insurgent group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and later breakaway group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (TTP JA) has written to Prime Minister Imran Khan calling for the rights of his family members to be respected after they were allegedly abducted and detained by the Pakistan military.
TTP, the country’s largest and deadliest militant organization was formed under Baitullah Mehsud in 2007 (later killed in a US drone strike) and has carried out a string of attacks against Pakistan security forces. Whilst acting as spokesman for TTP, Ehsan claimed responsibilty on behalf of the group for the heavily criticised attack on schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai. Express Tribune quoted a Taliban statement sent to media shortly afterwards which read,
“We targeted her because she would speak against the Taliban while sitting with shameless strangers and idealized the biggest enemy of Islam, Barack Obama.”
“We did not attack her for raising voice for education. We targeted her for opposing mujahideen and their war,”
Ehsan left TTP to help form TTP JA and condemned the TTP attack on the Army School Peshawar (APS) where many schoolchildren were killed, an operation carried out after he left the organization. He made himself available to media and human rights activists and took notice of concerns over the killing of health workers involved in polio vaccination. (Problems arose when CIA used a vaccination programme involving a Pakistani doctor as cover when staking out Osama bin Laden prior to his assassination in Abottabad. This led to many health workers not implicated being viewed as spies). The killings became a lot less in the years that followed though other insurgent groups still carry out attacks on occasion.
Ehsan later defected from TTP JA citing differences with the group and gave himself up to Pakistan security forces, stating his desire to lead a peaceful life. Ehsan claims he was given legal immunity and financial support for his new life where he, his wife and children resided under house arrest… see following article from Al Jazeera,
Pakistan Taliban Ehsanullah Ehsan “surrenders”
Ehsan became dissatisfied with what he describes as the military going back on their word and took the decision to escape leaving Pakistan for a new location. Interior Minister Ijaz Shah confirmed the escape to journalists in February 2020. Ehsan was recently interviewed by Asad Hashim for Al Jazeera where he made comment on his former group TTP,
Ehsan said the killing of Pakistani Taliban leaders such as then-chief Maulana Fazlullah in a 2018 US drone attack, and senior leaders Khalid Haqqani and Shahryar Mehsud two months ago have affected the organisation, but not decimated it.
“Their ability to launch attacks has definitely decreased, but they are not yet finished,” Ehsan said. “They will continue to try to prove their presence.”
Full interview can be read here,
Exclusive: Pakistani Taliban down but not out, says ex-spokesperson
Ehsanullah Ehsan speaks out for the first time after escaping from Pakistani military custody in January.
In the following letter penned by Ehsan (real name Liaqat Ali) he highlights the abduction and detention of relatives and requests help from Khan.
Whatever Ehsanullah Ehsan may or may not have done, the rights of his family members need to be protected. They must either be charged or set free. They cannot be subjected to collective punishment and they cannot be detained indefinately where no offence has taken place. Imran Khan has in the past spoken out regarding enforced disappearances which are common in Pakistan. In March 2019, Amnesty International reported,
The new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has committed to criminalizing enforced disappearances. In January 2019, Pakistan’s Ministry of Human Rights submitted a draft bill to the Ministry of Law and Justice to criminalize enforced disappearances, through an amendment in the Pakistan Penal Code. Shireen Mazari, the Minister of Human Rights has also stated that the government wants to sign the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. While criminalization of enforced disappearance is an important and positive first step in ending these ongoing human rights violations, the process has not included consultations with civil society groups and victims’ families.
Full statement can be read here…
Pakistan: Enduring Enforced Disappearances
Human Rights are not selective and Prime Minister Khan now has an opportunity to demonstrate he is a man of integrity by ordering an investigation into the disappearance of Ehsan’s family members and friend. The letter of appeal has been sent to Khan’s office and a response is awaited.
Conversation with Taliban on polio, education, non-harbis and a dominant narrative (Oct 28th, 2013)
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She was a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.