- Answers required
Federal Interior Minister Ejaz Shah has confirmed that former Tehrik Taliban Pakistan spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan had indeed escaped, as he had claimed in an audio message recently. However, Mr Shah did not confirm that Mr Ehsan was in Turkey as he had claimed, or that he had taken his wife and family with him. Mr Shah’s information did not provide any answer to the questions raised in a petition by a father of one of the victims of the Army Public School Peshawar killings. The father filed the petition because Mr Ehsan had admitted his involvement in the APS massacre, and was to stand trial after information had been extracted from him after his 2017 surrender. The perpetrators have not all been identified, and Mr Ehsan’s trial was the victims’ relatives’ only hope of closure.
Mr Shah did not address the issue of Mr Ehsan’s surrender. Mr Ehsan’s own audio message was not clear, though it included hints at revelations not only about his surrender, but about the conditions for that surrender. Did those conditions include an immunity from prosecution? Are his claims that he would identify his interlocutors meant to provoke anyone to begin covering his tracks?
The escape itself raises a multitude of questions, most noticeably about the security of custody. The chilling possibility that the escape itself was connived at, even that it had originally been part of the surrender agreement. In either case, it would show a mindboggling cynicism towards the APS slaughter, in which no less than 147 students and staff were killed. Mr Ehsan does not just have the APS massacre to answer for, but also a number of other terrorist incidents, in all of which several people lost their lives. Mr Ehsan was a terrorist, and should have been made to answer for his crimes before a court. He may have been a valuable source of information about other terrorists, but that did not mean that he should have been let off the hook, nor that the conditions of his imprisonment should have been so lax as to allow him not just to escape, and that too to a foreign country, and with his family accompanying him.