On Monday, DG ISPR revealed in a press conference that Ehsanullah Ehsan (former spokesperson of TTP) is in army’s custody and disclosed about sharing further details related to him later. On Wednesday in the video released by the ISPR, TTP-JuA spokesperson confessed that he and his accomplices had links with RAW and NDS and that the hierarchal setup of TTP were also willing to accept Israeli support in order to conduct terrorist activities inside Pakistan.

According to a report in express tribune, Ehsanullah confessed that he had been part of the TTP central division and further talked about how TTP misguided youth into joining the banned organisation in the name of Islam.

In the video, Ehsanullah said, “They (the TTP leadership) got their (Indian) support, their funding and took money for every activity they did. They pushed the TTP soldiers on the front against Pakistan army and went into hiding themselves… When they started taking help from India and RAW, I told Umar Khalid Khorassani (TTP commander) that were are supporting the Kuffar and helping them kill our own people in our own country.”

It may be appreciated that in Hybrid War against Pakistan, the kinetic arm is held by hostile international agencies (HIAs), including RAW-NDS, using terrorist organisations like TTP and JuA, whereas the non-kinetic arm is held by media trail blazers of India, western press and some activists within Pakistan. A quick analysis of the media platforms and cyber chatter has revealed some interesting findings.

While presenting Ehsanullah Ehsan to the media and exposing the RAW-NDS-TTP nexus was to remain main area of focus, soon some activists started deflecting the discussion to alleged amnesty to terrorists by Pak Army and possibility of mainstreaming of terrorists into national polity.

The activists were reluctant to even discuss RAW’s involvement in fomenting terror within Pakistan, even after two Blue Birds in a row; Kulbhushan and Ehsan, have openly spilled the beans.

The intensity and spontaneity of the deflection and their inability to criticise Indian state sponsored terrorism amounted to missing the forest for a tree. Unfortunately the optics of Ehsanullah Ehsan’s appearance was given more importance that the exposure of the RAW-NDS-TTP nexus.

It must be realised that Ehsan’s confession is a major breakthrough of operation Radd ul Fassad and should be welcomed by all patriot Pakistanis. Pakistan’s resolve against militants has put increasing pressure on terrorist outfits like TTP and JuA and the flight of Ehsanullah Ehsan is the windfall of operating within Pakistan and bordering areas of Afghanistan.

Military operations have now shifted to combing and dismantling sleeper cells to finally mop up remnants of terrorists networks within Pakistan.

Presentation of Ehsanullah Ehsan to the media may be seen in a correct perspective, as the non-kinetic part of Radd ul Fassad has to tackle the complex part of perception management. With TTP crumbling, Pakistan needs to fully expose the RAW-TTP nexus and bring psychological pressure on middle and lower cadres of TTP to abandon this futile and horrendous war against the state and people of Pakistan.

Pakistan as a state has to get into the important postulates of non- kinetic part of terrorism issue and formulate a strategy to defeat the opposing narrative, ISPR may have to be mindful of optics of the presentation of Ehsan and how it should minimise the damage being caused by some activists driving foreign and even hostile agenda.

Fortunately Ehsanullah appeared few days after Khulbushan was indicted for waging war against Pakistan; this needs to be exploited with persistent effort on part of our media, while remaining mindful of distractors and spin doctors.

I believe that the military should specifically ponder upon the issue of perception management with a closer look at the national interest of Pakistan keeping in mind its sensitive side. But the million dollars question which comes to mind is that whether the establishment along with the current government will formulate a giant consensus in dealing with this issue and take this to the world community and reveal how foreign elements are engaged in a non-kinetic warfare, disturbing not only Pakistan, but the region as well and ask that international community should take action against the perpetrators including India.

For now it’s going to be hard because of the pressure on civil military relations, specifically in the case of DAWN leaks which is right now taking the media by storm. A mere tweet by DG ISPR and a confessional video of Eshanullah may not be sufficient. Remember that this person is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Pakistanis, both civilians and military officials. He was the spokesperson of a banned terrorist organisation and proudly accepted the responsibility of hundreds of attacks in Pakistan. Few important questions that come in mind are that how the state would formulate a narrative to gain time in order to extract further information from him and expose the agenda of foreign elements working hand in hand to destabilise Pakistan? Is the government considering options of immunity to get Ehsanullah on board and use him as a poster boy to deal with perception management?

These are small questions but because of the sensitivity of the issue, they have a bigger impact. In case of the military, Yes! They would probably extract every bit of information from this terrorist but the question still remains that if so, then for how long would he be used keeping in mind the emotions of the families of martyrs all around Pakistan. If I had a say in this matter, my heart would tell me to hang him right away, but since this war is so horrific and complicated my brain would tell me to remain sensible and wait for the right moment to generate maximum effects. It would be symbolic to hang him in front of APS Peshawar to avenge the deaths of those innocent children and to build up the perception that state would do anything necessary to establish its writ all over. This will also give a message to those, who are currently hiding in Afghanistan working hand in hand with foreign agencies that this would be their ultimate end in near future.

Media would definitely sensationalise this issue in accordance with their policies and agendas. Currently an interview by Saleef Safi was telecasted, which suggested that a perception mechanism might be used to bring back the “Naraz Taliban”, just like the “Naraz Baluch separatists”. A national narrative is needed to strategise perception in order to address such sensitive issues.

Ehsanullah is another blue bird, just like Khulbushan and should be treated the same way as Khulbushan. Some members of the journalist and civil society are sensationalising this issue and playing with the emotions of the people. The biggest question that still remains unanswered. Would they react the same way if you replace the “Bhoola face” of Ehsanullah with the “Bhoola” face of Khulbushan?