Hizbut Tahrir and the armed forces

Published: June 22, 2011
Hizbut Tahrir is not an extension of al Qaeda but its desire to impose khilafat brings it close to the ideas propagated by al Qaeda leader Aiman alZawahiri. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

Hizbut Tahrir is not an extension of al Qaeda but its desire to impose khilafat brings it close to the ideas propagated by al Qaeda leader Aiman alZawahiri. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

A military spokesperson has confirmed that Brigadier Ali Khan, serving at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, has been detained for questioning for having alleged links to Hizbut Tahrir — an extremist organisation that was banned in Pakistan in 2004 — and it has been made clear that the brigadier had no links to the Taliban.

What is upsetting is that Brigadier Khan was allegedly hobnobbing with an organisation opposed to democracy — according to them, whoever supports democracy is a kafir — that believes in imposing khilafat on the world. Hizbut Tahrir is not an extension of al Qaeda but its desire to impose khilafat brings it close to the ideas propagated by al Qaeda leader Aiman alZawahiri. Hizbut Tahrir was allowed to operate in Pakistan together with a more lethal organisation, al Muhajiroun, under General Musharraf.

Hizbut Tahrir has, to some extent, penetrated the armed forces, as indicated by a military spokesperson. Colonel Shahid Bashir, a former commanding officer of the Shamsi Air Force Base, was apprehended by the military police in 2009 for his connection with the banned group. Along with him were others: A retired PAF squadron leader-turned-lawyer, Nadeem Ahmad Shah, and a US-educated mechanical engineer, Awais Ali Khan.

What is disturbing about Brigadier Khan being detained is that he was an ideal army officer, with a brilliant career and credentials second to none: His father was in the army as is his son-in-law, while his younger brother is a colonel serving in the intelligence service. The attraction of Hizbut Tahrir is significant because it comes laced with the thinking of UK-based Pakistani extremists. As a UK-based outfit, most of its members are Pakistani youths since Pakistanis form a majority of Muslims living there.

Based on the teachings of a Palestinian cleric, Hizbut Tahrir remains mysterious in its British manifestation. For some time, people suspected that cleric Omar Bakri headed it, then the suspicion was centred on Abu Hamza alMasri. (Bakri has been deported and alMasri is in jail because his outfit, al Muhajiroun, celebrated 9/11 and supported al Qaeda.) In Pakistan, its leaders have been sporadically jailed. Hizbut Tahrir once used the media for spreading its message but now it has gone silent. Its manpower often comes from UK-based alienated youths who land teaching jobs in English-medium schools in Pakistan.

It was in 2009 that a Hizbut Tahrir leader, teaching at a college in Lahore, aired what may be called the organisation’s plans. He said that “the organisation’s aim is to subject Muslim and western countries to Islamic rule under Shariat law, by force if necessary. Islamic rule would be spread through indoctrination, and by military means if non-Muslim countries refused to bow to it”. As for the strategy in Pakistan, he said it was “to influence military officers, persuading the army to instigate a bloodless coup against the present government. It is the military who hold the power in Pakistan and we are asking them to give their allegiance to us.”

Hizbut Tahrir may not be aligned with al Qaeda but its language does not differ from the one used by al Qaeda ideologues. The fact is that while Pakistan has a system of representative democracy which is functional, its Constitution declares it an Islamic republic where a Federal Shariat Court ensures the practice of Shariat. The Pakistan Army’s actions against Brigadier Ali Khan to find out why such an officer should betray his country’s Constitution are understandable, as is the process started by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to ensure that the army remains professional, free of all potentially disruptive ideologies floating around in the Islamic world.

The example of Brigadier Khan will have a good demonstrative effect and it will help the forces develop the capacity to detect designs of organisations who wish to make inroads into our military for their hostile objectives.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Mirza
    Jun 23, 2011 - 9:15AM

    Pakistan army should be a national (not regional dominated by few areas) and secular army. Just like Turkish army which is bound to maintain the secular status of the country. There is no other way around. We are only fooling ourselves. Education of women, democracy and secularism are the only way out. Pak army has to learn to “serve’ the nation like Turkish army has. Recommend

  • Timorov
    Jun 23, 2011 - 9:43AM

    I’m proud of General Kayani for trying his level best to undo many past wrongs and make the army so thoroughly professional with loyalty to the constitution and the motherland. Even under Musharraf I know for a fact that officers with allegiances to any outside organizations including religious ones (including those more peaceful than Hizbul Tahrir) were not promoted or scrutinized. General Kayani is a true professional and has done most things right given the extreme mess in which he was handed over the reins, along with an overly caustic media.

    Thank you Express Tribune Editorial for rightly extolling this act and for writing something positive for a change! Recommend

  • Jun 23, 2011 - 9:59AM

    Do we really have Islam in Pakistan?Recommend

  • Ahsan Mansoor
    Jun 23, 2011 - 10:20AM

    Before I write my comment, I would like to clarify that I am a strong opponent of the ideas propagated by Hizbut Tahrir and I have opposed them every time I came across them.

    However, I think Brig. Ali Khan should be supported by the media and the civil society, for conveying sentiments of Pakistani public to Army’s elite. It was a courageous step, not very common in the ranks of army. I also this that the talk about his connections with the banned organization is a mere eye wash.

    Even if Brig. Ali Khan has some connections with Hizb (which are yet to be proven), still he needs our support. Hizbut Tahrir is not a militant organization, and it is allowed to work in UK. A lot of Pakistani university students are also impressed by their philosophy. The only way to deal with them is to counter their ideas intellectually and not by banning them. Right now democracy is not presenting a strong case for itself. But it is the job of pro-democracy forces to defend it intellectually.

    This step of arresting Brig. Ali Khan for voicing his opinion in front of his bosses should be condemned and demands should be made to make the details of inquiry public. Recommend

  • zahid amjad
    Jun 23, 2011 - 11:48AM

    zia ul haq’s islamisation programme has damaged the army greatly.sadly now the soldiers first loyalty is not to pakistan but it is to islam.our people should realise that we are pakistanis first and muslims second.pakistan is our identity.the military leadership should carry out a purge of all islamic fascists within its ranks.We know how deeply the islamic extremists have infiltrated the armed forces but if efforts are made i think we can overcome this problem.Recommend

  • Imran Changezi
    Jun 23, 2011 - 1:15PM

    Hizb ut tahrir is working for re establishment of Caliphate so that opression of Muslims can be stopped.I have never seen any organization so rational and full of intellectuals than Hizb ut tahrir.As there call is resumption of Islamic way of life,that why they are working in every corner of earth among Muslims.right now Hizb ut tahrir is working in more than 40 coutnries to establish KHILAFAT.
    Now arresting Brig Ali Khan shows that western style governments and there democracies are failing miserably because they ban any intellectual organization to refute there ideas in society.I wonder for how long can they stop ideas that are being carried by Hizb ut tahrir members to be accepted and lived by masses when whole ummah loves there sincere call.

    May ALLAH give us 1000’s of new brig Ali Khan.The deen of ALLAH will win surely as it is promised and prophecized by prophet Muhammad peace be upon him.Recommend

  • Imran Changezi
    Jun 23, 2011 - 1:21PM

    @zahid amjad:
    Rasool ALLAH said that “One who calls for nationalism is not from us” and at another occasion prophet has compared nationalism with coal of hell fire.
    I wonder after reading these hadiths are you going to change your ideas as every true Muslim does.We are Muslims first and muslims last.No other identity can save this ummah.Recommend

  • Jun 23, 2011 - 2:53PM


    You are spot on, Pak military should follow the footsteps of Turkish military as they are also creating hurdles for AKP to legislate….. Is this the ideal function of a military….. Propagation of Islam in peaceful manner is terrorism and calling for secularism is standing for principles of democracy and modernity……..Recommend

  • Nazir
    Jun 23, 2011 - 4:14PM

    Islam for Muslims… is it bad? as they Chose to be Muslims… those who din are non muslims… in pakistan more then 97 % are muslims.. so common sense, they should implement islam…..

    if somebody wants secularism, they should get immigration and live in europe or somewhere…. how can a Muslim Say “give to Allah what belongs to Allah and Give to zardari what belongs to zardari”

    Khilafah says, everything belongs to Allah and Democracy Says everything belongs to zardari…..

    Choose your path carefully, as that might be your last !!Recommend

  • Abhi
    Jun 23, 2011 - 4:43PM

    How ironical pakistani army is acting against the people who support the Islamic way of life.Recommend

  • Nasser Khan
    Jun 23, 2011 - 6:58PM

    How have we sunk to depth of ignorance? There is no such thing as Pakistani Muslim or a Muslim Pakistani. You are a Muslim or Non-Muslim not partial but full.

    Most fellow commentators will agree to be a Doctor you need to study and at least have a degree in medicine followed by practicing your acquired skills. It is not too much to ask of humans to study one book from your creator, understand and then practice before being called a Muslim.

    We humans have a choice to follow the footsteps and teachings of Muhammad (pbh) -Gods Constitution or secular Ataturk or Greek Philosophy (Democracy) or any other man made system.

    I urge everyone to read, understand and implement Quran in your life before adding word Muslim to your identity.Recommend

  • Ali
    Jun 23, 2011 - 8:03PM

    The army shold start a secularisation program in the army where the recruits are taught to put Pakistan first. Our society in general needs to secularize itself more and religion should be left to individual choice. Its time we became a full on proper secular republic. Our existnece has proven one thing and that is that there is no place for religion in govt. and public life. look at Bangladesh they are all Muslim but have declared themselves secular. Why cant we?

    The major is just representative of the state of Pakistani mindset! You have to do a lot more if you want to reverse this dangerous trend!Recommend

  • billo
    Jun 23, 2011 - 8:17PM

    “What is upsetting is that Brigadier Khan was allegedly hobnobbing with an organisation opposed to democracy…” True. But the fact is that every single soldier in Pakistan hobnobs with an organisation opposed to democracy. The organisation is called the Pakistan Army. Recommend

  • Abdallah
    Jun 23, 2011 - 9:57PM

    Listen: to all muslims. la illaha illa Allah, is not only words, its a way of life. we will meet allah on the day of judgement. we can’t hide. so the question is, our islam wants us to implement ALLAHS Deen, Allah made it fard for us, how can we say no to this, how can we talk bad about Hizb ut tahrir when they want to implement allahs deen. to you ho apose this, FEAR ALLAH AND KNOW THAT ALLAH PUNISH STRONGRecommend

  • Javed
    Jun 23, 2011 - 10:36PM

    @Ahsan Mansoor: Your first few lines are a blatant lie. I shudder to think what you might have written if you were a supporter (which you are)
    Military personnel are not allowed to express political views in Pakistani or any other Army. When he was superseded, he should have taken retirement as is the norm in the Army but he didn’t. He wanted to remain in the Army to promote his regressive political views and weaken it. Well done Pak Army.Recommend

  • salman gujjar
    Jun 24, 2011 - 10:34AM

    brigadier ali gone to his end now,,,,,,,, but burning question is the penetration that lethal organization in the patriot army to such extent that they may influence brigadier level officer.
    in case brigadier ali has influenced already so why did he get promotions unchecked?????
    this is a clear cut threats to the anatomy of pakarmy.
    if all of this is the drama?????? than what is actual scene? which is being hide??Recommend

  • Jun 24, 2011 - 3:58PM

    It is a shocking and shamable situation,where extremist mindset is panetrating into military.Although a military of a state should be abstain from any sort of affiliation with relegious or political organisations.Rather they must only focus unitary to defend their country at all cost.Hizbut Tahrir is already banned in 2004 and is working under foreign agenda in the name of Islam.They are pursuing for implementation of European version of Islam in the name of Khilafat. If it would be dedicated organization then definitely they would be banned in the western world because the western world hasn’t favored any of islamic organization except those who are working under their interests. So i salute to Army brass on the bold step to purify our military from these evil fishes who has always been spoiled the institution in the past history also.Recommend

  • needz 19
    Jun 24, 2011 - 7:55PM

    We are living in a world where every powerful nation/organization has influenced and will influence other nations/organizations for their vested interests. Colossal amount of information/theories has made human minds vulnerable to all kinds of propaganda, irrespective of their affiliations. Same is the case with this army officer, as a matter of fact the step taken by army by making interrogation process public was much needed.
    Armed forces of pakistan are time tested and are serving in national interests. People with sense can easily identify the paid criticism by clandestine voices. Recommend

  • Jun 25, 2011 - 12:14PM

    one thing we need to understand here is no one is against the army. It is one of the, in fact, THE best army on this planet. When Army is criticized, it means the top brass, the policy makers who follow west rather than following the wishes of their own people……..Recommend

  • fatima
    Aug 7, 2011 - 5:15AM

    I really appreciate the work of Hizb bu tahrir,i wish and pray for the success of their efforts for the re-establishment of KHILAFAH.


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