The Pakistan Army has started court martial proceedings against a senior army officer over his suspected ties with banned group Hizbut Tahrir (HuT), military sources confirmed to The Express Tribune.
“I can confirm that Brigadier Ali Khan is facing trial by a field general court martial,” a military source said, while refusing to give details of the trail.
Brig Khan and four other officers were detained in 2011, soon after the May 2 incident in which US forces killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.
Brig Khan, who has been in custody for almost 10 months, was working at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi at the time of his arrest. He has denied the allegations against him.
His lawyer, retired Col Inam Rahim, said his client was detained for demanding that someone within the military be held accountable for the covert US raid in Abbottabad.
Security agencies had also arrested HuT deputy spokesperson Imran Yousafzai from Islamabad following the detention of the suspected officials. Four other HuT activists were also arrested from Islamabad and Multan.
The banned outfit has spearheaded criticism against the Pakistan Army for its ‘failure’ during the US raid in Abbottabad.
Leaflets distributed by HuT in major cities instigated army officers to mutiny against their top brass.
According to reports, the arrested HuT activists were accused of providing ‘inflammatory’ material to army officers, besides urging them to work against their high command as well as against the civilian government.
The significance of the court martial lies in the fact that it has been initiated at a time when the Abbottabad commission, formed to probe the May 2 incident, is close to completing its inquiry report.
Brig Khan was due to retire on July 9, 2011, after completing his service in the Pakistan Army.
According to Brig (retd) Shaukat Qadir, a major general or lieutenant general normally presides over a military court. An army officer charged by a military court for breaching discipline is liable to imprisonment for a maximum of 10 years.
The sentence of life imprisonment or death, under military laws, can be given if the accused is found guilty of mutiny or intending mutiny, he said.
It is yet to be ascertained whether the other four army officers will also be put on trial.
Officials familiar with the army procedure, however, were expecting a joint trial of all the arrested army officers and HuT activists.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2012.