Former Taliban commander, Ehsanullah Ehsan, who escaped from a safe house operated by the Pakistan army, earlier this year, reveals how Pakistan army and the ISI take the help of various terror groups to target Indian and US forces. Ehsan wrote this piece for The Sunday Guardian from an undisclosed location.
New Delhi: On a cold evening of 2011, I left my office for home at Miranshah Bazaar in North Waziristan. From my home, I had to go to a friend’s party.
My car had not yet left the Bazaar area when someone called me on my walkie-talkie. The call was from the secretary of senior Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader, Maulana Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud. He told me that he wanted to meet me. I told him that I had left the office and he should come and see me the next day, but he insisted that he wanted to meet that day only. I told them my location and parked the car on the side of the road and waited for them. He arrived 25 minutes later.
I asked him the reason for this urgent meeting, to which he replied that Amir Sahib (Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud) wanted to meet me urgently. I asked him if there was an emergency. He said, “I do not know why you are being called immediately but I know that the ‘Masher’ TTP Ameer Hakimullah Mehsud is also coming.”
I noted down the address of the rendezvous point. After saying goodbye to them, I went to my friend’s party because his house was located at Dande Darpa Khel near Miranshah Bazar. On my request, my friend fed us and we went to the meeting place.
We were only five minutes away from the meeting place when we received another call on the walkie-talkie. This time, the call was from Latif Mehsud, who was considered as the direct successor to the TTP chief, Hakimullah Mehsud. Latif asked me where I was. I told him I was five miles from the meeting place. He then said, “Stop there, I will send someone to pick you up, because the meeting place has been changed for security reasons.”
After waiting for a while, a young man came and took us to another place where Latif Mehsud was present. While entering the room, I saw that Hakimullah Mehsud, Maulana Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud and Azam Tariq (Tariq is a senior TTP leader, who was a spokesman of the group before Ehsanullah was made the spokesperson) were already there. They gave me the traditional welcome. After a short chat, Hakimullah Mehsud signalled for the guards to leave and ordered them to close the door and stand away. Now the meeting had begun.
Maulana Wali-ur-Rehman took a letter out of the envelope and gave it to me and told me to read it. I opened the letter and read it aloud. After doing so, Maulana Wali-ur-Rehman said to me, “You must have known why you were called in an emergency for this meeting.” I smiled and said, “Yes, I know.”
The letter I read was written by the DG ISI, General Shuja Pasha to Maulana Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud. In it, General Shuja Pasha made an offer to the TTP leadership that if the TTP gave up its armed struggle against Pakistan, the ISI would not only provide them with a safe passage against NATO forces in Afghanistan but also provide financial and military support in every possible way. In this letter, General Shuja Pasha also praised the strength and capabilities of the TTP and called the TTP a necessity for Pakistan. He wrote that we should work together to remove the misunderstandings between the Pakistan army and the TTP and work together to drive the great enemy US (America) and NATO out of Afghanistan.
General Pasha had also written that if TTP accepted the demands, the TTP would not just be able to demonstrate its abilities in Waziristan but the whole of Pakistan would be open for the TTP and that the cadre of TTP and their children would be able to work in this country by getting education from educational institutions in Islamabad and Peshawar.
General Shuja Pasha had further stated that if Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud was able to convince his organization, he would be remembered as a hero in the history of Pakistan. Pasha had further stated that the army would give him everything which will be beyond his imagination and desire.
Besides this, I was informed that General Pasha had also invited Maulana Sahib for a secret meeting. He had said that Naseer-ud-Din would arrange this secret meeting after seeing Naseer-ud-Din’s name in the letter. I asked Maulana Wali-ur-Rehman which Naseer-ud-Din he was talking about. To which he replied that he was referring to Dr Naseeruddin Haqqani, the son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, the leading leader of the Afghan Taliban and the first head of the Haqqani network.
Maulana Wali-ur-Rehman informed me that it was this member of the Haqqani family who had brought the letter from General Pasha. Dr Naseerudin Haqqani was later killed by unknown gunmen in Islamabad.
In this detailed letter, General Shuja Pasha had repeatedly referred to the Indian “occupation” of and “atrocities” in Kashmir. He had written to Maulana Wali-ur-Rehman Sahib saying that his forefathers had fought many wars for the independence of Kashmir and had made many sacrifices because they were true and patriotic Pakistanis. He, in the letter, had added that he should also join the Pakistan army in the “Ghazwa e Hind” war against India, because the war against India is a true and just jihad against the real infidels and polytheists. He also mentioned some Pakistan-backed organizations (Lashker-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammad) who were fighting against India in Kashmir and said that despite all the international pressure, Pakistan army was helping them because they were fighting for Pakistan. General Pasha had further stated that if the TTP fought for the interests of Pakistan, we (ISI) would support them on every front.
After the text of the letter was finished, TTP Amir Hakimullah Mehsud said that the meeting had been convened to decide whether to discuss the letter with the shura (council) or not. I told them that first we have to decide whether to accept the offer or not because if we don’t want to accept the offer then sharing the letter with someone will not be of any benefit, rather it would damage the TTP as it might cause unrest among the militants.
Everyone agreed with me and that’s how our meeting started, which lasted until three o’clock at night.
At the end of the meeting, we unanimously decided that we should not accept this offer, but should continue with our armed jihad to establish an Islamic system in Pakistan. Maulana Wali-ur-Rehman Sahib was directed to inform Dr Naseer-ud-Din Haqqani that we had rejected his offer. At the start of the meeting, I was asked to note down the developments in the meetings, so I saved all the minutes regarding the proceedings of the meeting in the form of a written document and got it signed by all the members who were in attendance.
I have witnessed dozens of such occasions in which the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies have made various offers and concessions to all extremist groups, including the Taliban, to use them as their proxies. Some of them accepted their offers individually and are now working as members of Aman committees and that of death squads in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
Ehsanullah Ehsan is a former Taliban commander.