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PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Wednesday barred the release of former spokesman for the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan Ehsanullah Ehsan, asking the government to wait until the relevant court tries him to decide his fate.

The restriction comes as Justice Qaiser Rasheed and Justice Ikramullah Khan dispose of a petition challenging the alleged government plan to grant clemency to Ehsan after deputy attorney general Mussaratullah Khan told them that the federal government had no plans to free the former TTP spokesman.

The DAG said currently, the security agencies had been conducting an inquiry against Ehsanullah.

The petition was filed by advocate Fazal Khan, father of a student, who was killed along with dozens others by the TTP militants in the 2014 attack on the Army Public School, Peshawar.

The petitioner, whose son Sahibzada Umar Khan was killed in the attack, requested the court to direct the respondents, including the federal government, not to give clemency to Ehsan.

Disposes of petition against ‘likely’ clemency for Ehsanullah Ehsan

The respondents in the petition were the federal government through the interior secretary, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government through the chief secretary, the defence ministry through its secretary, the Inter-Services Intelligence director general, the chief of the army staff, and the law and human rights ministry through its secretary.

DAG Mussaratullah Khan said the security agencies had been conducting investigation in light of the statements given by Ehsan.

He said the petition was not maintainable and should be dismissed as the high court had no jurisdiction in relations to the cases falling in the ambit of the military courts.

The DAG said the government had no intention to release Ehsan.

The bench observed that if the TTP’s former spokesman had claimed responsibility for the 2014 APS attack, then only parents of the martyred students were empowered to pardon him under the law.

The petitioner said the media reports suggested that the federal government had planned to give clemency to Ehsan, who had accepted responsibility for several deadly acts of terrorism.

Ameerullah Khan Chamkani, lawyer for the petitioner, said around a year had passed since Ehsan had surrendered but his trial had not begun.

He called for the trial of Ehsan by a military court.

The lawyer said the respondent (defence ministry) had earlier filed comments revealing nothing clearly about the matter.

He said since the government had not categorically denied the assertions made by his client, it meant that they all were correct.

The lawyer said the petitioner believed that Ehsan was also one of the masterminds of the APS carnage.

He said the government had made public in April last year that the former TTP spokesman had surrendered himself to it and since then they had been investigating him, but no charge had so far been brought against him.

The lawyer said unfortunately to the utmost surprise and disappointment of his client, Ehsan far from being brought to justice was being portrayed as an ‘unaware, innocent and brainwashed’ man, who had inadvertently masterminded many terrorist activities in the country, especially in KP.

He said it was reported in the media that clemency was on the cards for Ehsan for his ‘full and frank’ disclosure.

State minister on interior Talal Chaudhry had told the Senate in Feb that Ehsanullah Ehsan would be tried in a military court.

He had added that the government had already decided not to pardon Ehsan.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2018