The security establishment’s handling of Ehsanullah Ehsan, the former spokesperson for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), had already become a national flashpoint which was diffused at the brink; however, concern still persists in government circles over his unusual treatment. A national outrage over him being allowed to film an interview for primetime television – which was eventually prevented from airing – may have subsided, but the Senate Standing Committee on Interior lambasted Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Defence Rear Admiral (r) Faisal Lodhi on Tuesday over what it perceived to be the “glorification” of a deadly terrorist.

The chief concern of the Senators was the fact that till now Ehsanullah Ehsan has not been charged or put under trial as he should be, and instead he is being used to push the narrative that the Indian and Afghan spy agencies – Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and National Directorate of Security (NDS) respectively – are funding and supporting the TTP splinter group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar. While much of the Senators’ concerns were residual from the interview controversy that should be addressed by strong reassurances by Fasial Lodhi in the meeting that due process will be followed and Ehsanullah Ehsan tried in a court of law for his crimes, other much more troubling matters also came to light.

FATA Senator Saleh Shah told the committee the government was facilitating some TTP groups and they had opened their offices in Tank, Dera Ismail Khan and Bannu. Acording to him “under the government’s unannounced policy of reintegration” banned groups affiliated with the TTP were allowed to open political offices and distribute visiting cards, with the aim of eventually dispensing some form of arbitration or “justice” based on their norms.

If true, then these allegations need to be investigated; Mr Saleh Shah needs to provide details on these offices so that the extent of this problem can be investigated.

While a policy of rehabilitation and reintegration is crucial to counter-terrorism efforts, the objective of those is to sequester individuals from the groups they worked for, de-radicalise them, and introduce them into society as normal individuals working everyday jobs. Under no scenario does ‘reintegration’ mean allowing terrorists groups to operate in commercial activity under their own auspices and as representatives for those groups. This is a misguided policy that must be stopped.

Furthermore, the government must do well to remember how the Taliban rose to prominence in the tribal areas in the first place; by providing quick justice on their own lines when the government justice system became slow and ineffective – the government should not repeat that mistake.