Brigadier Ali Khan is likely to be released soon after spending more than a month and a half in detention for suspected links with the banned extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, his family and officials said.
The brigadier and four unnamed majors are in custody for questioning for their suspected ties with Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT), which calls for creating a pan-Islamic caliphate system by ousting, what it says, the pro-American government in the country.
Military officials grilling the brigadier have yet not found ‘enough evidence’ to formally charge him, said a military official familiar with the development.
“You need to have very solid evidence to charge-sheet anyone in the military. At the moment there is no such thing against the detained officers, including Brig Ali,” added the official, requesting not to be identified. “Brig Ali is likely to be released soon,” he added.
However, it is unclear whether he will be dismissed from service or allowed to go home with his perks and privileges intact. Brig Ali is due to retire on July 9.
Sources say though Brig Ali was allegedly in contact with HuT, the main reason behind his detention appears to be his highly critical stance on the army’s high command over its relationship with the US.
According to the BBC, Brig Ali started writing letters to army generals, some of whom were his former colleagues, with suggestions on how to become ‘self-reliant’ and “to purge the army of the American influence”.
He told senior officers such as Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani that Pakistan’s ‘unconditional’ support to the Americans was causing resentment in the lower ranks of the army.
But this act does not constitute a serious offence that warranted a serious punishment such as court-martial, sources point out.
Brig Ali’s family has also confirmed that they have been given indications that he would be reunited with them in a few days. Brig Ali also spoke to his family last week for the first time since he was taken into custody on May 6.
“I talked to him briefly on our son’s birthday,” Brig Ali’s wife told The Express Tribune. “He was in good health and quite confident that he would be declared innocent,” she added.
“You should not worry. I have done nothing wrong and Inshallah (God willing) I will be with you very soon,” his wife quoted him as saying.
The military spokesperson Major General Athar Abbas also confirmed that Brig Ali and four other detained majors have yet to be formally charge-sheeted.
“Investigations are underway and they will be charge-sheeted once the probe is complete,” said Major General Abbas. However, he would not provide details.
The fate of the detained officers will be decided on the recommendations of the authorities questioning them, said another unnamed official. But he added that the detained officials are unlikely to be court-martialed.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2011.