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TTP’s Ehsanullah Ehsan Escaped During Operation, ISPR DG Says

-- Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar refutes Ehsan's claims of being in Army's custody

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ISLAMABAD– Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan leader Ehsanullah Ehsan, who acted as the outfit’s spokesperson and claimed responsibility for some of its deadliest attacks, escaped from Pakistan’s custody during an operation, confirmed Pakistan Army’s spokesperson Major General Babar Iftikhar on Thursday.

The ISPR DG was responding to a question about a recently leaked audiotape of Ehsan in which he claimed he was kept by the Pakistan Army at a safe house in Peshawar and ran from there using a cab-hailing service.

“The comments made in the tape are absolutely baseless,” Major General Iftikhar said. The interior ministry has also said that he escaped while we were using him for an operation.

“He was in our custody and the information he gave helped us dismantle the terrorist organisations he was working for,” said the spokesperson. “I leave it to the better judgement of everyone to decide why he made such claims.”

Ehsan was infamous for issuing chilling claims following TTP attacks and has been linked to some of the country’s most bloody attacks — including the bombing at a park in Lahore during Easter 2016, and the targeting of education activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

He surrendered to authorities in 2017 and later gave high-profile interviews on Pakistani television. It angered many in the country who believed he was being pampered by authorities after years of helping lead the bloody insurgency.

Relations with Saudi Arabia

Pakistan and its people are proud of the country’s historic relations with Saudi Arabia, the ISPR DG said while responding to a question about the COAS’s visit to the Kingdom.

“Nobody can doubt the centrality of Saudi Arabia to the Muslim world,” he remarked. The COAS visit was planned already. No need to read too much into it.

The army chief is expected to visit the Kingdom this weekend.

Relations with India

He even remarked that India has increased its defence budget and is spending more on acquiring weapons.

A journalist asked the spokesperson to respond to India acquiring more Rafale fighter jets. To which, he said: “If India acquires more jets than it just shows their insecurities. We don’t care if they get 500 or five more jets. We are absolutely ready to take on our enemies even though we are not spending on defence as much as them.”

He remarked that wars aren’t won with weapons but with nation’s unity.

India has been taking hegemonic steps and spreading the fire of communal hatred. This along with their military spending has made their expansionist policies quite clear to everyone.

‘Freedom is a blessing’

Freedom is a blessing and we should thank our leaders, such as Allama Iqbal and Mohammad Ali Jinnah, for their struggle for freedom, he remarked.

“Ask about the importance of freedom from the mothers in Indian-administered Kashmir who bury the bodies of their children covered in the Pakistani flag,” he said.

The human rights of Kashmiris are being violated. India is trying to change Kashmir’s demography by removing Muslims from there. Children and woman are being tortured, youngsters are being killed in the name of ‘counter-terrorism’ and it has become normal for India to use pellet guns on young people.

India’s terrorism has been unveiled by international human rights organisation and media too. We have raised this issue three times at international forums in the past one year. We hope that Kashmiris prove to be successful in their struggle.

Speaking about the Line of Control situation, he said that the India violated it 1,927 times during the coronavirus lockdown. “They [the Indian Border Forces] knowingly targeted the people of Azad Kashmir. During these violations 16 people, including five kids, seven women and four men, were killed and countless others injured.”

He said that the army is helping make shelters for the people of Azad Kashmir so that they can stay safe during the ceasefire violations. We plan on making 1,000 shelters, of which 400 have been completed.