The Lahore High Court (LHC) has directed the army to explain whether or not Brigadier (retd) Ali Khan, accused of planning attacks on the general headquarters (GHQ), could be tried under army laws since he is no longer serving.
The LHC Rawalpindi bench was hearing a petition by Brig Ali against his court martial proceedings on Wednesday.
Justice Ijaz Ahmed directed Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Sardar Tariq Anis and Colonel Muhammad Tahir, a representative of the judge advocate general, to explain the status of the petitioner in a detailed report.
Advocate Colonel (retd) Inamur Raheem, representing Brig Ali, argued before the court that his client could not be tried under the Pakistan Army Act as he retired in April, last year, after the completion of his service.
In response, the DAG said that military authorities had held the retirement of Brig Ali in abeyance; therefore he was subject to army laws for trial.
The petitioner’s lawyer, however, rejected the DAG’s arguments, saying that there had been no precedent of stopping an individual from retiring after the completion of services.
The court directed the responding authorities to submit written comments by March 7 – the next date of hearing.
Sharing other details of Wednesday’s proceedings, Advocate Inam said the court also directed the military authorities to allow Brig Ali’s attorneys to see him at the Sailkot cantonment, where he was being tried by a Field General Court Martial.
He further said a cardiologist of Brig Ali’s choice had been allowed to see him and that the authorities had already permitted some relatives of the detained brigadier to visit him.
The military has been trying the retired officer on charges of having links with banned outfit Hizbut Tahrir (HT) and planning an attack on the GHQ, with the help of some civilians as well as a PAF pilot.
In his petition, Brig Ali said that he was being maligned only after he asked the military brass to fix responsibility for the May 2 raid of US special forces in Abbottabad.
“On May 5, I had urged the highest hierarchy in the military to fix responsibility on officers for the US raid. I also suggested that the army leadership should surrender their perks and privileges. After the conference, I was arrested and kept in solitary confinement,” Brig Ali claimed.
After his arrest, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) had issued a press release saying that Brig Ali had been arrested for having links with the HT. The petitioner said that army investigators later charged him with planning to neutralise the top military and civil leadership to establish Khilafat in the country and to carry out an air raid on the GHQ using F-16s. Brig Ali has denied the allegations.
On the other hand, investigation officer (IO) of the case, Major Khawaja Kashif Saleem, in his statement before the trial court, alleged that the accused officer was introduced to HT’s activist Rizwan by Major Jawad Baseer in Islamabad in August 2008 and that Rizwan had asked for army support for Khilafat.
According to Saleem, the accused brigadier accepted Rizwan’s plan and was in constant touch with him and another activist, Abdul Qadir. He added that Brig Ali also kept persuading his colleagues to join the HT despite knowing it was a banned outfit.
The IO alleged that HT members, through Brig Ali, tried to neutralise the senior political and military leadership including the president, prime minister, and the chief of army staff.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2012.