Brigadier Ali Khan, who was arrested in May for his alleged links with the banned militant outfit Hizbut Tahrir (HuT), has opted to be tried by court martial, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Brig Khan’s decision came soon after an inquiry board informed him that the allegations leveled against him had been substantiated. Brig Khan rejected the inquiry board’s findings and asked the officials concerned to prove the allegations before the court.
Brig Attique of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) declined to comment on the case or speculate whether he (Brig Khan) would face a military court.
An army official said that investigations against the arrested officer were still under way, even after two months. An inquiry was initiated after Brig Khan was arrested in May.
He was to be retired from the army on July 9 after completing his service tenure but he remained under detention.
The arrested officer will be allowed to hire a defence lawyer from among the legal branch of Pakistan Army, a source familiar with the procedure said. He “can also hire a civilian defence counsel to contest his case in the military court under the Pakistan Army Act”, the source said. The army detained Brig Khan, who was at that time serving at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, a week after the US incursion in Abbottabad on May 2.
The brigadier was charged for his alleged ties to extremist organisations, including the banned UK-based organisation HuT. A day later, four army majors were also arrested for their alleged links with HuT. It is yet to be ascertained whether the other four army officers will also be put on trial along with Brig Khan.
Meanwhile, security agencies arrested HuT deputy spokesperson Imran Yousafzai from Islamabad earlier this week. According to the HuT announcement, Yousafzai who is second-in-command of HuT in Pakistan was arrested when he was on his way to meet a local journalist. Security agencies arrested another Hizbut Tahrir activist from Islamabad right after Yousafzai’s arrest. Three other HuT activists were arrested from Islamabad and Multan.
Demanding the release of their activist, HuT has warned authorities that their “struggle…will continue unabated”.
Officials familiar with the army procedure of court martial are expecting a joint trial for the arrested army officers and the HuT activists.
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.
The Express Tribune has learnt that the arrested HuT activists were accused of providing “inflammatory” material to army officers, besides urging them to work against their high command and the civilian government.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2011.
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