On Monday, Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Major General Asif Ghafoor, announced that Ehsanullah Ehsan, the former spokesperson for prescribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and a senior leader of the deadly Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), had turned himself into the security forces of Pakistan. As part of this statement, General Ghafoor asserted that “There can be a no bigger achievement for Pakistan than the fact that our biggest enemies are now realizing the error of their ways, and are turning themselves in.” And, alongside this announcement, the ISPR has released a six-minute video of Ehsanullah Ehsan confessing to his terrorist activities, which were (importantly) funded and sponsored by the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) and the Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
RuF. Ehsan Ullah Ehsan exposes hostile foreign agenda & their designs to destabilise Pak. Our youth is our strength, shall never fall prey.
— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) April 26, 2017
Without yet knowing the precise circumstances and facts concerning Ehsanullah Ehsan’s surrender to Pakistani forces, we can safely conclude that this is a welcomed and propitious development in our ongoing ‘war against terrorism’. However, at the same time, the ‘surrender’ of Ehsanullah Ehsan also raises several important questions; most importantly about 1) how this symbol of militancy must be dealt with (under our applicable laws), and 2) what our State should do with his confession about being funded by NDS and RAW.
The Gold Hearted Ehsanullah Ehsan: Really?
Ehsanullah Ehsan’s heart of gold shone through, and he decided to surrender himself to Pakistani security forces, turning a new and noble page in his life. Bravo!
First things first: it is important to note the language and tenor of Ehsanullah’s confessional statement, as well as the announcement made by DG ISPR. Ehsanullah, in his video confessional, claims that “When they [TTP leaders] started receiving funds from India and RAW, I told Umar Khalid Khorasani that we are supporting infidels and helping them kill our own people in our own country.” To which, Khorasani replied, “Even if Israel offers to fund me to spread terror in Pakistan, I will take their help.” And, a ‘refor med Ehsanullah, who was always a good person deep (very deep) inside, claims, “This is when I realized that the TTP leadership was serving its own interests and furthering its own agenda.”
Isn’t that endearing, coming from a cuddly 200-pound death machine? He could (somehow) stomach mutilated children and dead women. He could (begrudgingly) put up with wailing mothers and lamenting children. But when Khorasani said he would take Israel’s money (if offered) for terrorism in Pakistan, Ehsanullah Ehsan’s heart of gold shone through, and he decided to surrender himself to Pakistani security forces, turning a new and noble page in his life. Bravo!
Even the ISPR statement seems to hint towards this (ridiculous) sentiment when Major General Ghafoor claimed that the best part about Ehsanullah Ehsan’s surrender is that the “biggest enemies are now realizing the error of their ways”! Really? Are we all supposed to pat Ehsanullah on the back, for this amazing resurrection of conscience? Should we now parade him as a model or reform? Or should we continue to view this abominable creature for who he is: Devil incarnated.
Let us put this furry animal, with a refurbished heart, into perspective. Ehsanullah Ehsan, whose real name is Liaqat Ali, joined the TTP in 2008, rising through the ranks to become its central spokesperson. When part of the TTP faction negotiated a cease-fire, 2013, Ehsanullah Ehsan could not stomach the travesty, and instead joined a splinter group of fighters (even deadlier than before) under the banner of JuA.
Read more: The Art of Making a Deal With the Taliban
Ehsan’s Insane Involvements
Ehsan claimed responsibility for the bombing at Lahore Park, Pakistan aimed at killing Christian children, who were celebrating Easter.
As part of these activities (prior to seeing the light, of course), on October 9, 2012, Ehsan claimed responsibility for shooting Malala Yousafzai in the head. At the time, Ehsan claimed that Malala’s work had been an “obscenity” that needed to be stopped: “This was a new chapter of obscenity, and we have to finish this chapter.” Later that year, on November 22, 2012, Ehsan claimed responsibility for suicide bombings against Shias in Rawalpindi and Karachi, claiming that “the Shiite community is engaged in defiling the Prophet (SAWW).”
On December 15, 2012, Ehsan confirmed his group’s involvement in a rocket attack on Bacha Khan International Airport, which killed 4 people and wounded 35. On June 23, 2013, Ehsan claimed responsibility for the killing of nine foreign tourists and their guide in Gilgit-Baltistan. On November 2, 2014, he claimed responsibility for suicide attack on Wagah border, which claimed the lives of over 60 innocent souls. On November 7, 2014, Ehsan claimed responsibility for twin blasts that killed at least six people in Mohmand agency, targeting peace committee volunteers in Chinari village of Safi Tehsil. On August 16, 2015, Ehsan claimed responsibility for the killing of Col. (R) Shujaat Khanzada (Punjab’ Home Minister), and on March 27, 2016, Ehsan claimed responsibility for the bombing at Lahore Park, Pakistan aimed at killing Christian children, who were celebrating Easter.
So what should we do with this ‘reformed’ man? Throw him in the darkest dungeons we have, and subject him to the fullest might of our laws. If there is anyone who ought to be tried under the Military Courts (for propagating terror in the name of religion) and sentenced to the gallows, it is Ehsanullah Ehsan. Not for a moment can the people and the State of Pakistan allow this person to harp on the mantra of reform. Not ever.
Nawaz’s Failed Foreign Policy
Sadly, under Nawaz Sharif’s tainted leadership, Pakistan is suffering from one of the greatest foreign policy failures in our history. The world – at least the West – is still largely unaware of the escapades of Kulbhushan Yadav, and the involvement of RAW in Balochistan and Karachi.
Now to the second question: what about his revelations/confessions about TTP and JuA being supported and funded by NDS and RAW?
Well, unfortunately, this not the first time that the State of Pakistan, under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif, has gotten such irrefutable evidence about foreign-sponsored terror, and not for the first time does it seem uninterested at projecting it the correct way in the international community.
With the likes of Tariq Fatemi and his gang, at the helm of foreign affairs, there is not much that can be expected from the government in terms of raising this issue, in a deliberate and forceful manner, at the international stage. Sadly, under Nawaz Sharif’s tainted leadership, Pakistan is suffering from one of the greatest foreign policy failures in our history. The world – at least the West – is still largely unaware of the escapades of Kulbhushan Yadav, and the involvement of RAW in Balochistan and Karachi. Even now, with a confession of Ehsanullah Ehsan, it is most likely that the government will be unable to rally the international community against Indian sponsorship of terrorism in Pakistan.
And, at least as far as popular narrative is concerned, India will remain a peace-loving nation, while Pakistan gets painted as a terrorist State.
Unfortunately, there are no legal solutions to foreign policy failure. This is entirely a political issue. And, like all other political issues, the hope for meaningful reform rests with a leadership that has been indicted by the apex Court of this country.
However the foreign policy question plays out, over the coming weeks and days, in the shadow of Dawn Leaks, remains an elusive question. However, at least in terms of law, definite steps must be taken to ensure that this new moral awakening of Ehsanullah Ehsan does not color our sight in terms of the blood that still stains our soil.
Saad Rasool is a lawyer based in Lahore. He has a Masters in Constitutional Law from Harvard Law School. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy. This piece was first published in The Nation.