Action taken against responsible officers for Ehsanullah Ehsan's escape, DG ISPR

Rawalpindi: Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj. Gen. Babar Iftikhar has said that action has been taken against the military officers who were accountable for Ehsanullah Ehsan, a member of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and a former spokesman, escape.

Speaking to foreign media in his office on Wednesday, DG ISPR said that Ehsanullah Ehsan's escape was a very serious matter and that after a thorough investigation action has been taken against responsible military officers.

"Efforts are underway to re-arrest Ehsanullah Ehsan, but at the moment we don’t know where he is," he said.

In response to a question about a recent threat to Nobel Prize-winning social activist Malala Yousafzai on Twitter, Military spokesman said, “As per his information that was a fake account.”

It may be recalled that Ehsanullah Ehsan had long been associated with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and during that time he claimed responsibility for several extremist attacks in Pakistan, including the attack on Malala Yousafzai.

 He was arrested a few years ago and escaped from military custody shortly afterwards without facing a court.

Pakistan Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Babar Iftikhar spoke to journalists from foreign news outlets in Pakistan about various national and regional issues, including Afghanistan peace talks, extremism in the former tribal areas and relations with India.

Maj. Gen. Babar Iftikhar in response to a question from reporters about the enforced disappearances said, "The Commission on Missing Persons has made a lot of progress." He said that the commission had cases of disappearance of more than 6,000 persons out of which 4,000 have been resolved. He made it clear that "the issue of missing persons will be resolved soon."

General Babar has claimed that the issue of Missing Persons has been resolved at a time when the families of some Missing Persons belonging to Balochistan have recently ended their sit-in in Islamabad after continuing for several days.

The sit-in was called off after the Human Rights Minister assured that Prime Minister Imran Khan would meet the families of the missing persons next month and try to resolve their issues.

DG ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar revealed in his speech that a few people have been arrested in connection with the killing of 11 Hazara miners in Kech, Balochistan last month. He said that these were very important arrests but apologised for not offering further details.

It may be recalled that a sit-in was called in Quetta last month against the killing of these members of the Hazara community, after which Prime Minister Imran Khan also went to Quetta to offer condolences to the families and assure action against those involved in the incident.

When asked about the recent rise in extremism in the country's former tribal areas, especially in North Waziristan, the military spokesman said that the militant outfits in those areas had long since been disbanded. They did not have the capability to carry out a major attack in the area, but sporadic incidents of violence have been reported in the area for some time.

Explaining the reason for the latest militant attacks, DG ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar said that Pakistan's security agencies have launched very aggressive operations against the few extremists who are left in the area and the latest violence is the result of such action.

“Every time you go after extremists aggressively, the inevitable result is a backlash, which the security forces suffer and a temporary increase in violence in general.”

General Babar Iftikhar said that the recent attack on a women's car was a link in the same chain. He said that now there was no organised group left in the area and un-organised extremists were carrying out operations under different names which would be eradicated soon.

DG ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar said that militants in Pakistan were being aided by Afghanistan where India is not only providing arms and money to these organisations but also providing them with latest technology.

"We have evidence that anti-Pakistan extremists are not only getting weapons and money, but also new technology," he said. "The aim is to increase the capacity of these extremists."

In response to a question, the military spokesman said, "It is not far-fetched that these activities are in the knowledge of Afghan intelligence."

DG ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar spoke in detail on the peace process and troop withdrawal in Afghanistan. The gist of his conversation was that Pakistan wants peace in Afghanistan at all costs and Pakistan has done what it could do in this regard.

He said Pakistan had used its influence while arranging talks with the Taliban.

"Afghan leaders are now testifying that Pakistan has sincerely made every effort for peace in Afghanistan."

He said that, what will be the future of Afghanistan, how the talks will move forward and which side to do take what, all these are the responsibilities of the citizens and government of Afghanistan. He stressed that care must be taken to ensure that no vacuum is created in Afghanistan.

"We have only one goal and that is to establish long-lasting peace in Afghanistan."

When asked about the possible withdrawal of coalition forces from Afghanistan and the subsequent return of the Taliban there, the military spokesman said, “Pakistan and Afghanistan have changed now, the political structure and dynamics of 90’s does not exist and It is not possible for the Taliban to retake Kabul’s control and Pakistan would not support them and that will never happen."

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