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Central & South Asia
Pakistan brigadier held for 'illegal ties'
Army announces that officer was detained last month over suspected links to outlawed Hizb-ul-Tahrir group
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2011 22:35

A Pakistani army brigadier has been arrested for suspected ties to a banned group, the military has said.

Major General Athar Abbas, a spokesman for the Pakistan military, said on Tuesday that Brigadier Ali Khan was detained last month over links to the outlawed Hizb-ul-Tahrir group.

The detention follows growing pressure on Pakistan to root out suspected sympathisers of Islamist groups from its ranks after Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, was killed by US forces in Pakistan on May 2.

US officials have said bin Laden may have been helped by some elements within the Pakistani security establishment.

Abbas said Khan, assigned to military headquarters in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, had an administrative post and was in charge of drafting army regulations.

He added that Khan was not involved in military operations.

"We follow zero tolerance policy of such activities within the military therefore prompt action was taken on detection," Abbas said.

Khan is the highest-ranking serving Pakistani army officer to be arrested in a decade.

Military family

Khan, who is from a family of soldiers, has two sons and one son-in law in the army. His father was a junior commisioned officer.

The brigadier's wife, Anjum, rejected the allegations against him as "rubbish".


Political analyst Imtiaz Gul comments on Hizb-ul-Tahrir

Describing her husband as "an intellectual, an honest, patriotic and ideological person" she told Reuters "we can never think of betraying the army or our country".

She added that "every general knows Brigadier Ali Khan. Even [army chief] General [Ashfaq] Kayani knows him".

"It's a fashion here that whosoever offers prayers and practices religion is dubbed as Taliban and militant," she said.

Another military official, who did not want to be identified, also rejected statements that Khan was involved in any plot.

"He just had contacts with the banned group. But he was not involved in any type of conspiracy," he said.

'Party of Liberation'

Hizb-ul-Tahrir or 'Party of Liberation', is a political group dedicated to re-establishing an Islamic caliphate across the Muslim world.

It is banned in many Muslim countries for its calls to overthrow the sitting governments.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Imtiaz Gul, a political and security analyst based in Islamabad, said: "I think this organisation has taken a very, very strident position with the Pakistan military and the Pakistan government which it says are traitors which are collaborating with the US against the interests of the Muslims.

"There are a number of officers in the military; there are a number of bureaucrats, even well-payed senior positions and also people within the judiciary who are sympathetic or empathetic towards the cause of the Hizb-ul-Tahrir."

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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