The Army on Wednesday released the confessional statement of Liaquat Ali, infamously known as Ehsanullah Ehsan, a former spokesperson of the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
The video brought forth some startling revelations, including the claim that the TTP and JuA have been coordinating with Indian and Afghan security agencies to move freely in Afghanistan and have been guided by the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India's apex spy agency, in infiltrating into Pakistan.
Ehsan, who seemed disgruntled by what he termed the self-serving agenda of senior leaders of the TTP and JuA, also said that these organisations have twisted Islam to suit their own ends and are actively looking to recruit young men and women through propaganda and false interpretations of Islam spread through social media.
The Army's spokesman, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, tweeted the following soon after the video was made public:
"RuF [Raddul Fasaad]. Ehsan Ullah Ehsan exposes hostile foreign agenda & their designs to destabilise Pak. Our youth is our strength, shall never fall prey."
Full transcript of the video
"My name is Liaquat Ali, aka Ehsanullah Ehsan, and I belong to the Mohmand Agency," Ehsan is heard saying at the beginning of the the video.
"I joined the TTP in 2008, when I was a college student."
"I have been a spokesperson for TTP Mohmand, TTP's central division, and the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar," he says. "I have seen a lot in my nine years with these organisations."
"These people have misled people in the name of Islam, especially the youth, for their own ends. They themselves do not hold themselves to the same standards they champion for others."
"A particular group [within them] is responsible for misleading people, kidnapping them and extorting them for money, and murdering innocents," he says. "These people have been behind bombing attacks in public spaces and attacking schools, colleges and universities. This is not what Islam teaches us," he says.
"When the operation in Waziristan kicked off, these people started fighting within themselves for more power and leadership," Ehsan reveals.
"After Hakimullah was killed, a new succession struggle kicked off," Ehsan says. "Separate campaigns were kicked off in support of Omar Khalid Khorasani, [Khan Said] Sajna and Mullah Fazlullah. Everyone wanted power, so a shura decided that there would be a draw of names for who would be leader. This is how Mullah Fazlullah was elected leader of the TTP."
"What can you expect from a leader who was nominated through a lucky draw? And what can you expect from Fazlullah, who married his mentor's daughter by force and took her away. People like him are not fit to serve Islam," he says.
"After the operation in North Waziristan, we fled to Afghanistan," Ehsan continues.
"Over there, we established and developed contacts with NDS [Afghan intelligence] and RAW," Ehsan claims.
"They [the TTP leadership] got their [Indian] support, their funding and took money for every activity they did. They pushed the TTP soldiers to the frontlines to fight against the Pakistan Army and went into hiding themselves," he adds.
"When they started taking help from India and RAW, I told Khorasani that we're supporting the kuffar [non-believers] and helping them kill our own people in our own country."
"He [Khorasani] said: 'Even if Israel wants to fund me to destabilise Pakistan, I will not hesitate in taking their help'."
"At that point, I had figured out that the TTP was functioning according to some sort of agenda that served the self-interest of its leaders."
"These [terrorist] organisations have established committees in Afghanistan through which they communicate and coordinate with RAW. The Indians had given them special documents to help them move around Afghanistan with ease. In Afghanistan, these documents function much like Pakistani ID cards do in Pakistan."
"Without these documents, it is very difficult for terrorists to move around Afghanistan considering the security situation in that country," Ehsan claims.
"These [terrorists] used to keep in contact with Afghan and Indian security forces before they moved anywhere in the country. They [Afghan and Indian intelligence] used to grant them passage and guide their infiltration attempts into Pakistan."
"Since Pakistan Army destroyed several Jamaat-ul-Ahrar camps in Parcha and Lalpura and killed many of their commandoes in its ongoing operation, they've had to flee the area and abandon their stronghold. Due to this, the morale of their commanders and their senior leadership has been shaken."
"There are people in those camps who have had enough — who want to quit. I want to send out a message to them."
"Stop what you are doing and adopt the path of peace, and come back to a life of tranquillity."
"When these people stopped getting airtime and coverage in media to the ongoing operations, they turned to social media to rope in young people who do not know better," he continues.
"They started misleading them and provoking them using wrong interpretations of Islam. They spread propaganda and statements that could turn young people onto their side."
"I have a message for young people too: these people are fighting only for their selfish designs and are being used by external forces."
"The reasons I have discussed here turned me away from these organisations and motivated me to turn myself over voluntarily to Pakistan Army," concludes his statement.
Read Dawn's editorial on Ehsan's custody here.
'Winning over enemies'
The director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, had announced on April 17 that Ehsan had turned himself in to Pakistan's security agencies.
Right before announcing Ehsan’s surrender, the ISPR chief said that one of the objectives of the counterterrorism operations was to restore the writ of the state and that it should be considered a major achievement if those previously indulging in wrongdoing realised that they were on the wrong side.
It is generally believed that Ehsan has been in the military’s custody since the Army responded to a string of terrorist attacks in February, which had been claimed by JuA, by shelling terrorist hideouts along the Pak-Afghan border.
Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa had, while talking to troops during one of his recent visits to military formations, hinted that a high-value target was being held.
Ehsan was believed to have been in hiding in Afghanistan. He was one of the founding figures of JuA, which was formed in August 2014 after splitting from the TTP. JuA is one of the most lethal of TTP’s splinter groups and has been involved in some of the most brutal attacks.
The group carried out about 120 attacks since it was formed nearly three years ago. At one stage JuA had aligned itself with Daesh, the Arabic acronym for the militant Islamic State group. JuA subsequently returned to the TTP fold, but continued to maintain an independent identity. The group launched the so-called operation Ghazi in February that led to spike in terrorist attacks.
Having Ehsan in custody could be invaluable for security agencies given the wealth of information he could have about JuA networks and operations.