PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday directed several state functionaries to respond to a petition seeking contempt proceedings against them for not implementing its orders to try former spokesperson for the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan Ehsanullah Ehsan, who escaped from custody lately.

A bench consisting of Justice Ikramullah Khan and Justice Ijaz Anwar issued notices to respondents in the petition asking them to file replies to the petition within a fortnight.

It issued the order after holding preliminary hearing into the petition of lawyer Fazal Khan, whose son was martyred in the 2014 Army Public School carnage.

The petitioner said the respondents had blatantly violated the court’s orders given to them over his earlier petition filed against the alleged plan of the former government to give clemency to Ehsanullah Ehsan, who had surrendered to an intelligence agency in April 2017.

The respondents in the petition are the chief of army staff, ISI director general, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary, and the interior, defence and law and parliamentary affairs secretaries.

On Feb 6, an audio message purportedly of Ehsanullah Ehsan surfaced on social media wherein he claimed that he had escaped from custody of security forces. Before his surrender Ehsanullah Ehsan was affiliated with another proscribed organisation, Jamatul Ahrar, a splinter group of the TTP.

Amirullah Khan Chamkani, lawyer for the petitioner, said on Apr 25, 2018, a bench of the high court had disposed of the earlier petition of Fazal Khan after a deputy attorney general had assured the court that the government had no plans to give clemency to Ehsanullah.

He said the government had then claimed that presently Ehsanullah was under investigation and would be tried subsequently by a military court.

The lawyer said the court had then ordered that Ehsanullah Ehsan should not be set free without completion of his trial.

He said in the tragic incident of APS terrorist attack on Dec 16, 2016, the petitioner’s elder son, Sahibzada Umar Khan, had also lost his life and a total of 148 students and staffers were martyred.

The lawyer added that since then, his client had been making hectic efforts to see that the culprits behind one of the darkest days in the history of the province were met with justice so that the children of other parents didn’t go through the unimaginable ordeal suffered by the petitioner.

He said the very next day of the occurrence, the proscribed TTP had accepted responsibility for the attack.

The lawyer said almost three years after the attack, the principal accused in the case, Ehsanullah Ehsan, had surrendered or was captured by the law-enforcement agencies and thus, giving some hope of justice to his client.

He said the petitioner was surprised when Ehsanullah was portrayed by the agencies as an unaware, innocent and brainwashed man, who had inadvertently masterminded terrorist activities in the province.

The lawyer said Fazal Khan had then filed a petition, while the respondents told the court during a hearing into it that terrorist Ehsanullah would be tried by a military court and would not be granted clemency.

He claimed that instead of trying Ehsanullah, he was provided a luxurious house from where he escaped later.

Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2020