NA’s human rights panel takes up alleged ‘kill list’

Published August 13, 2021
Committee head Shazia Marri directs interior secretary to hold meetings with two senators whose names, among others', are on list. — Dawn/File
Committee head Shazia Marri directs interior secretary to hold meetings with two senators whose names, among others', are on list. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee has expressed concern over reports that the names of a number of public figures have appeared on a “kill list” referred to by a former TTP spokesperson and The Guardian last week.

The committee called upon the government to carry out an investigation.

Shazia Marri, the committee’s chairperson, directed the interior secretary to have an early meeting with senators Farhatullah Babar and Afrasiab Khattak to take the matter forward. The names of both the senators figure on the hit list.

They had forwarded to the committee a Facebook post of Ehsanullah Ehsan, the former Taliban spokesperson, in which he claimed last month that he had been asked to lead a “death squad” to eliminate “some individuals”.

The “kill list”, according to Ehsanullah Ehsan’s post, includes the names of former senators Farhatullah Babar, Afrasiab Khattak, Dr Syed Alam Mehsud and Mufti Kifayatullah.

Farhatullah Babar said: “Ehsanullah Ehsan is no ordinary person. He is a former spokesperson for Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) who later formed a splinter group, Jamaatul Ahrar, both designated as terror outfits. He has claimed responsibility for a number of deadly attacks in Pakistan.”

The human rights committee was informed that in April 2017 Ehsanullah Ehsan reportedly turned himself in to the security agencies and transformed himself from a “terrorist into a confidant of the agencies”. He had the freedom to give media interviews and made some startling disclosures.

Ehsanullah Ehsan escaped from a high security detention centre under mysterious circumstances, the senators were informed.

After his mysterious escape, he has been giving media interviews and is active on Facebook.

In an interview to Al Jazeerah after his escape, he claimed that his release was the result of an agreement that granted him full legal immunity, a personal monetary stipend and a guarantee that he would be allowed to live as a ‘peaceful citizen’.

Al Jazeerah provided a list of his allegations to the military and civilian authorities in Pakistan, but they did not respond, he said.

After the mysterious death of ex-senator Usman Kakar in Quetta on June 21, Ehsanullah Ehsan said Senator Kakar’s name was included in the hit list maintained by his former handlers.

A few days later through another tweet he gave names of other individuals in the list.

“Usman Kakar’s family has already alleged foul play and claims that he was murdered. The provincial government formed a judicial commission to probe the matter, but disbanded it after the family declined to appear before it for reasons of trust,” Farhatullah Babar said.

“In view of this background, we are deeply concerned over the hit list as it contains our names too.”

Five UN bodies, in a joint letter to the government on May 29, 2019, had mentioned the ‘kill list’.

“This is what makes it far too serious to be taken lightly,” Senator Babar said.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper carried a report a few days ago about threats of elimination made by some Pakistani dissidents living abroad. The Foreign Office promptly denied the existence of any such list, but mere denial cannot allay suspicions, he added.

Former senator Afrasiab Khattak said the situation was so alarming that anybody could be on the hit list.

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said the case needed to be thoroughly investigated.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2021

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