The military command has yet to decide whether the recently arrested army officers should be tried by a court martial or be dismissed from the army, said Brig (retd ) Shaukat Qadir, who is familiar with the procedure.
Last week, the army had detained Brigadier Ali Khan, an officer who had been serving at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, for his alleged ties to extremist organisations. A day later, four army majors were arrested for their alleged links with the banned organisation Hizbut Tahrir.
The adjutant general of the Pakistan Army will decide the issue after receiving the findings of the board of inquiry (constituted by him) 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 the United Kingdom-based outfit 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 HT for giving “instigating” material to army officers to make them work against their high command and the civilian government.
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, Qadir said the inquiry board has yet to determine the nature of the offence allegedly committed by the arrested army officers. “The army has a very transparent judicial system that provides full rights of defence to the accused, he said adding that “under the system, the prosecution will have to establish its case with undeniable evidence.”
He may recommend to the chief of army staff for the dismissal of the officers in case the board of inquiry does not find sufficient evidence against them that warrants a court martial.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2011.
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