Detained Pak Brigadier had been denied promotion

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - 16:25

Islamabad: A Pakistan Army brigadier
detained for his alleged links with a banned militant
group was earlier denied promotion because of his extremist
leanings and had been under surveillance for some time.

The military on Tuesday confirmed that Brig Ali Khan,
serving as director for rules and regulations at the General
Headquarters in Rawalpindi, had been detained.

Reports said Khan was suspected of having links with
Hizb-ut-Tehrir, a group that has been calling for a rebellion
against "pro-America" leaders.

Khan, who had trained in the US and was set to retire
soon, was denied promotion in the past because of his
extremist leanings, the Dawn newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Before his posting at General Headquarters, Khan
served as a commander in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Before his arrest, Khan was under surveillance because
of his contacts with extremists and he was held for
interrogation once those interactions became too frequent,
sources told the newspaper.

Khan`s detention was approved by army chief Gen Ashfaq
Parvez Kayani who was "very disturbed" to learn about the
infiltration of Hizb-ut-Tehrir at such a senior level, a
source said.

Khan was detained by the military`s Special
Investigation Branch on May 6, four days after al-Qaeda chief
Osama bin Laden was killed in a covert US raid in the garrison
city of Abbottabad. He is the senior-most military officer to
be arrested for extremist links.

A defence source told the Dawn that a lieutenant
colonel who worked under Khan had also been detained but
another official said the arrest was not directly linked to
Khan`s case.

The confirmation of Khan`s detention came at a time
when some elements in the military are being accused of being
in collusion with extremists and militants.

Senior journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad was abducted and
killed two after he alleged in an article on May 27 that
al-Qaeda had infiltrated the Pakistan Navy. Reports have
suggested that a terrorist raid on the PNS Mehran naval
airbase in Karachi on May 22 had support from within the navy.

Inter-Services Public Relations chief Maj Gen Athar
Abbas played down Khan`s links with extremists as "an
exception".

He told Dawn that though there was zero tolerance in
garrisons for religious and sectarian organisations, the
"ranks could not remain unaffected by what was happening in
the society, a reference to rising extremism in the country".

Khan, the son of a retired junior commissioned
officer, has a strong military background.

His brother is serving in a military intelligence
agency and his son and son-in-law are captains in the army.

The Hizb-ut-Tehrir, which started operating in
Pakistan in the late 1990s, has been striving to infiltrate
military ranks. It first enlisted some Pakistan Army officers
while they were training at Sandhurst in Britain in 2000.

These links were exposed in 2003 when some officers
were arrested, prompting then military ruler Pervez Musharraf
to ban the organisation.

The US reportedly alerted the Pakistan Army in 2009
about the penetration of Hizb-ut-Tehrir into its ranks and the
presence of the group’s cells in the military.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - 16:25

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