Militant politics: TTP sacks spokesman for remarks against Afghan Taliban

Ehsanullah Ehsan says he cannot confirm his dismissal.

Reuters/tahir Khan July 10, 2013
File photo of Ehsanullah Ehsan (left), former spokesperson of TTP. PHOTO: AFP


The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Tuesday sacked their spokesman for alleged remarks that have angered their Afghan allies.

The dismissal of Ehsanullah Ehsan - an outspoken and prominent figure close to TTP’s top brass – was announced through the distribution of a pamphlet by militants in North Waziristan.

“He has made comments that have raised the danger of divisions between the Pakistani Taliban and the Afghan Taliban,” the pamphlet said. “The Taliban are our foundation and (Afghan Taliban leader) Mullah Omar is our supreme leader. That is why, from today, Ehsanullah Ehsan is no longer our spokesman.”

One TTP commander said that the Afghan Taliban were incensed when Ehsan told a local newspaper that US-Taliban peace talks in Doha would have no effect on the TTP, suggesting that the two movements were “totally different”.

Ehsan was replaced by Sheikh Maqbool, a man who is considered close to the Afghan Taliban and has spent much of his time since 2007 in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, talking to The Express Tribune, Ehsan said that he was “unaware” of his dismissal. When asked to confirm or deny the reports, he insisted, “I am saying I cannot confirm the news.”

Sources reveal that the change of the group’s spokesman had been under discussion within Taliban leadership during recent weeks. The Urdu-language pamphlet, announcing Ehsan’s dismissal, mentions June 25 as the date for his removal.

However, Ehsan had been issuing statements on behalf of the group until last week.

On July 3, Ehsan had told The Express Tribune that Taliban had increased attacks on security forces to avenge the killing of the group’s deputy chief, Waliur Rehman Mehsud.

On Monday, in response to a question, he said that the group wanted release of two activists in exchange of the vice-chancellor of Islamia College University, Dr Muhammad Ajmal.

Ehsan’s dismissal comes amid growing signs of divisions within the militant groups operating in the country’s tribal regions and is being seen as a move meant to appease the Afghan Taliban, who are referred to as their ideological bulwark by the Pakistani Taliban.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2013.

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