Widening differences: Sacked TTP spokesman knocks at the Taliban court

The TTP fired Ehsan for inflammatory remarks about the Afghan Taliban.

Tahir Khan July 12, 2013
File photo of Ehsanullah Ehsan. PHOTO: AFP


Former spokesperson of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Ehsanullah Ehsan, has challenged his sacking in a Taliban Islamic Court and relinquished all organisational responsibilities. Ehsan, who has resigned twice before as the TTP spokesman, says it is rare for the TTP to give the sack to its members.

A TTP leaflet distributed in North Waziristan tribal region this week said that Ehsan was removed as the TTP spokesman by the central ‘shura’ or council for his controversial remarks that created a rift between the TTP and the Afghan Taliban.  The leaflet further read that the decision was taken in consultation with the TTP chief, Hakimullah Mehsud.

Ehsan has rejected the charges levelled against him and claims he did not threaten the Afghan Taliban. “I had some differences with the ‘shura’ members over political affairs and they sacked me for it,” Ehsan told The Express Tribune in his first interview after his removal. “The council members did not have solid arguments to challenge my opinion on political affairs and they made the Afghan Taliban issue an excuse to take action against me,” he added.

Although the ex-TTP leader evaded questions about the nature of differences over political matters, he admits that the two had had differences over political issues since long.

Ehsan talked about the Afghan Taliban last month when some armed groups planned an attack on TTP bases in Mohmand tribal region, bordering Afghanistan. Ehsan had told this correspondent last month that the TTP rivals in Mohmand agency – Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, Ansar-ul-Islam and the local ‘lashkar’ or volunteers are using the name of the Afghan Taliban. He had stated that the TTP shows allegiance to the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” but had requested the Afghan Taliban leadership to clarify its position on the anti-TTP campaign in Mohmand agency.

A delegation of the Afghan Taliban had been involved in negotiations with the TTP, but the former had never complained against him, Ehsan pleads. “The Afghan Taliban had in fact spoken in my favour,” he claimed.

The shura has yet to appear in front of the Taliban Court to formally present charges against him. “The judge had issued them notices twice to appear and prove their charges, however, they are reluctant to present their case,” Ehsan said.

A three-page statement issued by the TTP has confirmed Ehsan’s decision to knock the doors of the Taliban court. The ‘shura’ had asked the court to move the date of the hearing till after Shawwal 15, due to holidays in Ramazan and after.

The court has confirmed Ehsan’s petitions challenging his removal and to redress the charges levelled against him and has, thus ordered that no allegations against Ehsan may be discussed in public until the verdict is announced.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2013.