Army undecided on action against held servicemen

ISLAMABAD - The military command is yet undecided whether the recently arrested army officers should be tried by a court-martial or be dismissed from the army, a military official has said..

By Afzal Khan

Published: Wed 29 Jun 2011, 12:43 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 10:44 PM

Last week, the army had confirmed having detained Brigadier Ali Khan, about a month ago, for his alleged ties to extremist organisations in particular Hizbut Tahrir (HuT). A day later, it was further revealed that four army majors were also being interrogated for the same charge.

Brig. Ali’s counsel, a retired colonel, later made an embarrassing disclosure that Ali had been arrested a couple of days after he had asked some awkward questions about security and intelligence lapses against the backdrop of the US May 2 operation in Abbottabad and the deadly attack on Navy’s Mehran base, to army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani at a meeting in the GHQ. The counsel confirmed that Ali had religious leanings, grew beard only a year earlier and did not contest the accusation of his possible contacts with the HuT. But media reports pointed out that the outfit despite being fundamentalist in its ideology does not preach violence nor has any links with Al Qaeda. It is more of an intellectual organisation opposing democracy and advocating caliphate system in Pakistan and the world.

Pakistan has banned it but the organisation freely operates in Britain. It is cited to have recently urged army officers to oust pro-American leadership in Pakistan and establish caliphate. The adjutant general of the Pakistan Army will decide the issue after receiving the findings of the board of inquiry to investigate the allegations against the arrested officers.

The board of inquiry will give the full right of defence to the five officers detained for having links with Hizbut Tahrir and also for breaching army discipline. Another source revealed that the activists of the organisation will also be put on trial before a general court martial, along with the army officers in case the adjutant general decides to constitute the court and try the accused.

According to a Supreme Court ruling, a civilian can be tried by the military tribunal if the person is implicated in an offence against the Pakistan Army, said lawyer Qazi Mohammad Anwar.

It is learnt that security agencies have arrested some activists of HuT for distributing “provocative” material to army officers. An army officer charged by military court for breaching discipline is liable to be imprisoned for a maximum of 10 years. The sentence of life imprisonment or death, under the military laws, can be given if the accused is found guilty of mutiny or intending mutiny, he said.

However, the inquiry board has yet to determine the nature of the offence allegedly committed by the arrested army officers.

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