ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army on Wednesday said that military personnel found responsible for the escape of former Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan from custody had been taken to task.

Military spokesman Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar said this while responding to a question at a briefing for international media at the ISPR.

BBC Urdu quoted the ISPR director general as saying that Ehsanullah Ehsan’s escape was a very serious matter and after a thorough investigation, action had been taken against the military officers involved in the escape of the TTP leader.

According to journalists present at the briefing, the spokesman said that those responsible had been taken care of. He was then asked if they were from military to which the ISPR director general said that yes they were army men.

No further details were given.

Gen Babar said that efforts were being made to arrest Ehsanullah Ehsan again. He, however, denied having knowledge where he was hiding at present. Some reports say the former TTP spokesman is now living in Turkey.

ISPR chief says efforts being made to arrest TTP’s ex-spokesperson again

Ehsanullah Ehsan, who remained spokesman for the TTP and later joined Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, surrendered to the army in February 2017.

In a TV interview months after his surrender, the former TTP leader had admitted to committing terrorist acts and also disclosed the connection of Afghan and Indian intelligence agencies with the TTP and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar.

Among other charges, he was also accused of being involved in the Army Public School massacre in 2014 which left around 144 schoolchildren and teachers dead. He was, however, never formally charged or presented in any court of law during nearly three years he remained in custody of military personnel.

He had escaped from military custody around mid-January 2020. The news of his escape became public when he released an audio clip over social media weeks later in February, saying he was no more in the custody of members of security agencies. He had further said that he had fled from the captivity along with his family.

In his statement on the escape, the former TTP leader had said that he did so because the conditions on which he had surrendered to Pakistan Army had not been fulfilled.

His escape was later officially confirmed by then interior minister Ijaz Shah.

He was lately again in the media spotlight for threatening Nobel laureate Malala Yousufzai on Twitter. A Twitter account apparently belonging to Ehsanullah Ehsan had tweeted, urging Malala to return to Pakistan “because we have a score to settle with you and your father”. He had further tweeted: “This time there will be no mistake.”

The TTP was involved in the attack on Malala on October 9, 2012.

Twitter later permanently suspended the account from which the tweet was made. Gen Babar, replying to a question, said that the account was fake.

Through a tweet, Malala had asked the government and the military to explain how Ehsanullah Ehsan had escaped from their custody. “This is the ex-spokesperson for Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan who claims the attack on me and many other innocent people. He is now threatening the people on social media,” she had tweeted.

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2021

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