ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army said on Wednesday it had taken action against officials found responsible for the escape of former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesperson, Ehsan Ullah Ehsan, from an undisclosed detention facility last year.
A high-profile local Taliban figure, Ehsan announced and justified a 2012 attack on Malala Yousafzai for campaigning for women’s education and also announced the TTP’s claim of responsibility for a horrific attack on a school in Peshawar in 2014. He escaped detention in January last year and announced his breakout on social media.
“Ehsan Ullah Ehsan got away from our custody and there were some military personnel who facilitated his escape,” the head of the military media wing, Major General Babar Iftikhar, said while in a briefing to foreign journalists in Islamabad.
Ehsanullah is accused in several terror attacks in Pakistan. After his surrender in 2017, local Geo News TV aired an interview he gave in custody in which he asserted that the intelligence services of Pakistan’s arch-rival, India, had been funding and arming Pakistani Taliban fighters.
The Pakistan army pledged to put Ehsan on trial but had not done so until the time he escaped custody in 2020. His whereabouts are uncertain.
Describing Ehsan’s escape as a “very serious matter,” Iftikhar explained for the first time how the TTP leader managed to find his way out of a high security environment, saying action was taken against those who facilitated him. He said it was not clear where Ehsan was currently hiding, though the country’s security forces were doing their best to capture him again.
Asked about the fresh wave of militant violence in Pakistan, Iftikhar said several small militant organizations had unified recently and were being trained by hostile intelligence agencies in neighboring nations.
Discussing the challenge of religious militancy, Iftikhar said that many small groups were trying to associate themselves with Daesh, but the group did not have an organized presence in Pakistan.
He also said Pakistani law enforcement agencies had captured several militants belonging to the Iran-backed Zainabiyoun Brigade but Pakistan did not consider the militant outfit a major threat.
“We carried out very successful operations against all militant organizations and dismantled them,” he said.
The military spokesperson said his country had extended a hand of peace to its eastern neighbor after Prime Minister Imran Khan formed his government in 2018 but did not receive an encouraging response from New Delhi.
Replying to a question about the Saudi-Pakistan relationship, Iftikhar said his country enjoyed strong military-to-military terms with the kingdom and its teams in Saudi Arabia regularly trained local troops.
He also expressed satisfaction with the security dimension of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
“A lot of concentrated effort has been made by hostile elements to sabotage the corridor project,” the military spokesperson said. “We have beefed up its security and deployed an army division in Gwadar. Besides, Frontier Corps [paramilitary] provides security to Chinese projects as well.”