- Confidence of Taliban based in Afghanistan was shattered after Pakistani shelling on their sanctuaries
ISLAMABAD: The Army on Wednesday released a recorded statement of former Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claiming that Indian and Afghan intelligence services funded and facilitated Afghanistan-based Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) for terrorism in Pakistan.
“We fled to Afghanistan after the Army launched operations in North Waziristan. There I saw these people develop contacts with NDS (National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan) and RAW (Research and Analysis Wing, India), which supported and funded them,” Ehsan, whose original name is Liquate Ali, said in a 5-minute-53-second video clip released to media by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
Military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, soon after the release of the clip, tweeted: “Ehsanullah Ehsan exposes hostile foreign agenda and their designs to destabilise Pakistan. Our youth is our strength, shall never fall prey”.
Confidence of Taliban based in Afghanistan was shattered after Pakistani shelling on their sanctuaries
It is not known when the clip, described by the ISPR as a “confessional statement”, was recorded. Ehsan has been in military’s custody since early March. The Army, however, announced on April 17 that he was being held and claimed that he had voluntarily surrendered. The development was trumpeted as a success of Operation Raddul Fasaad launched recently after a sudden spike in attacks in the country.
JuA, the group with which Ehsan was last affiliated, had in a statement contradicted the military’s claim, saying he was captured on March 7 by the Inter-Services Intelligence along with “three other colleagues”, Long War Journal reported.
Ehsan’s custody was seen as a big achievement because security agencies despite successful operations had got hold of only a few senior militant leaders.
Ehsan is seen in the video saying NDS and RAW gave “targets” to TTP and JuA, who received remuneration for every activity they carried out in Pakistan.
It has always been known that Pakistani terrorist groups having bases on Afghan soil worked in collaboration with NDS and RAW for carrying out attacks. Ehsan’s statement helps strengthen Pakistan’s case that it is a victim of terrorism unleashed by hostile spy outfits of its neighbours. Ehsan shed light on how the communication between TTP/JuA and NDS/RAW worked.
“In Afghanistan they have formed committees through which they remain in touch with RAW,” he said about contacts with the Indian intelligence.
Meanwhile, NDS facilitated the movement of Pakistani terrorists. He said their movement always happened with the approval of NDS.
“NDS has issued Tazkiras (local ID documents) to them (TTP/JuA terrorists) so that they could move from one place to another, without which movement is difficult,” he said. A copy of one such document was shown in the video.
Speaking about the morale of the Pakistani militants in Afghanistan, Ehsan said their confidence had been shattered after Pakistan’s shelling on their bases and centre in Lalpur and Parcha, in which several leaders had been killed and their infrastructure damaged.
There was no immediate reaction from New Delhi and Kabul about Ehsan’s claims.
Ehsan, who was the main leader of JuA before being captured and serving as TTP spokesman, throughout the clip looked to be distancing himself from the groups with which he remained attached over the past nine years.
At one point he said he questioned JuA leader Omar Khalid Khorasani for getting support from RAW.
“I told Khalid Khorasani that what we are doing is helping Kuffaar by carrying out activities within our country and killing our own people. In a way we are serving them,” he said, adding this led him to believe that militant leaders were serving their personal interests and pursuing “some sort of agenda”.
Ehsan blamed his former colleagues for sending foot soldiers to fight Pakistan Army, while keeping themselves safe in their sanctuaries. He spoke about turf wars within the TTP, and said its leadership was misleading youths in the name of religion and recruiting them for their own designs.
“Islam does not allow this,” said Ehsan, who had in the past claimed responsibility for some of the most gruesome attacks. He mocked at TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah’s rise as the group’s leader through a draw and accused him of forcibly marrying his mentor Maulvi Soofi Mohammad’s daughter.
This and his call for TTP, JuA ranks to give up arms and return to peaceful life led many to believe that the security establishment could be rehabilitating him much like Punjabi Taliban leader Asmatullah Moavia, who had been granted amnesty.
There was no word from the military if Ehsan would be tried for the crimes whose responsibility he had claimed.
Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2017