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Coming in From the Cold

by Newsweek Pakistan

Former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan’s confession raises more questions than it answers

Ehsanullah Ehsan is currently in custody of Pakistan’s armed forces. Once the “central” spokesman of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), he left the umbrella group to join the breakaway Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, also as a spokesman. Throughout his tenure as the face of the ongoing militancy in Pakistan, he was a cruelly taunting frontman that often insulted Pakistan in the name of Islam. His return to Pakistan and surrender to the Army implies he feared for his life across the Durand Line and has now made a bargain that allows him to continue living—even under custody.

Understandably, the headline-grabbing revelation from his “confession” video is that India has been funding the terror of the Pakistani Taliban. Which, naturally, also suggests that he was in India’s pockets, much like all the other terrorists. Facing the pressure of ongoing military operations in Pakistan, he may have thought of quitting the life of loot and plunder to settle down comfortably in Bajaur, possibly as the owner of a small hotel.

Ehsan, aka Liaquat Ali, joined the TTP in 2008 while he was still in college. He was no babe in the woods and knew full well the career he was going into. He was no “misguided” youth and could legitimately be seen as a “thought-leader” of the Taliban. As spokesman, he cruelly spited Pakistan over the attack on Malala Yousafzai in 2012; the rocket-attack on Bacha Khan International Airport, Peshawar the same year; the killing of nine foreign tourists in Gilgit-Baltistan in June 2013; the suicide attack at Wagah Border in November 2014 that killed 60; the killing of the home minister of Punjab, Shuja Khanzada and 13 others, in August 2015; and the suicide-bombing at Allama Iqbal Park, Lahore, in March 2016, killing 72.

Keeping his past in mind, its obvious his righteous condemnation of the leaders of TTP and Jamaatul Ahrar is put on. Clearly, he was not greatly perturbed by their killing of innocent and mostly poor Pakistanis for nearly a decade. His unmarred face and plump physique also signals a life of leisure and pleasure, rather than that of a warrior ready to die in the name of Allah. We don’t know what his deal with the Army is, but Liaquat Ali clearly deserves to be questioned and judged on the basis of what he has done to Pakistan and its stricken inhabitants. There can be no forgiveness without due penitence and punishment.

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