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Pakistani militants from Afghan side want to return to Pakistan: Ehsanullah Ehsan

27 April, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Ehsanullah Ehsan, the former spokesman for the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has disclosed in a video that the Pakistani militants now operating from the Afghan side of the border want to give up terrorism and return to the country.

Ehsan, who was one of the few known faces of the Taliban leaders, surrendered to security forces earlier this month, according to a military spokesman. He would routinely take responsibility for the attacks in Pakistan. He had claimed responsibility for a series of major attacks, including those at Wagah, on Malala Yousafzai and on a camp of foreign tourists in Gilgit.

The Pakistan Army on Wednesday released Ehsan’s video, who confirmed the group’s involvement in terrorist attacks in public places, extortion, kidnappings and receiving financial support from Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies.

“I have noticed during my nine years of association with the TTP that the group would mislead the people, particularly the youth... [using religion as a tool]. The Taliban leaders are involved in the massacre of Muslims and extortion of money from the people,” he said in the nearly six-minute video. Ehsan, whose name is Liaquat Ali Momand and belonged to Mohmand agency, was speaking in Urdu.

“The Taliban carry out blasts in public places, schools, colleges and universities. Our religion does not allow such attacks,” he said.

After a rift within the TTP surfaced in 2014, Ehsan joined several other Taliban commanders from Mohmand tribal agency to form a splinter group TTP Jamaat-ul-Ahrar. As the group’s spokesman, Ehsan would claim responsibility for the attacks in Pakistan. He had joined the TTP in 2008, months after Baitullah Mehsud launched the group in South Waziristan.

Ehsan disclosed that the TTP developed cracks after the Pakistani forces launched a major operation in North Waziristan tribal region in 2014.

He revealed that all the Taliban leaders fled to Afghanistan after the operation, and that they had “links” with Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies, who supported and provided financial assistance to the terrorists.

He said that senior Taliban leaders had gone into hiding and had left the fighters to engage the Pakistani forces.

He admitted that several camps of the JuA were destroyed in shelling by Pakistani forces in Lalpura area of Nangarhar province in February, adding that several Taliban commanders were killed in the attack.

He said that the stranded commanders and fighters were now “disappointed [in their leadership] and want to return to Pakistan”.

Ehsan said that the Taliban leaders focused on the social media after the Pakistani media blacked them out. The TTP leaders would share propaganda material on the social media to mislead the people, especially the youth, he said.

“I appeal to the youth who use social media not to be misled by the Taliban leaders, as they are playing in the hands of foreign agencies. This is the reason I have surrendered to the Pakistan Army.”

He talked about differences in the ranks and files of the Taliban.

“Every Taliban leader wanted to become the chief and senior leaders Khalid Khorasani, Fazalullah and Khan Said Sajna had been vying for the leadership after the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud. Then the ‘Shura’ decided to carry out balloting and Fazalullah was nominated the new chief. No one can expect anything good from such groups who elect leaders using balloting.”

Ehsan said he had challenged TTP Jamaat-ul-Ahrar chief Khalid Khorasani over receiving aid from Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies. “But he said that he will receive aid even from Israel if they (Taliban) are given for terrorism in Pakistan.”

“I realised that the Taliban leaders were doing all this for personal agenda. These groups have formed committees in Afghanistan who have contacts with RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) and NDS (National Directorate of Security). The NDS has formally given them ID cards called ‘tazkira’ so that they can easily move from one place to other. It would be difficult for the Pakistani groups to move freely in Afghanistan if they did not have Afghan ID cards,” he said

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