A Brigadier of the Pakistan Army has been detained for his alleged links with the Hizb ut-Tahrir, which was banned by the Pervez Musharraf regime in 2004. This was confirmed on Tuesday by Director-General Inter Services Press Relations Athar Abbas, who said the detention was reflective of the zero tolerance the Army had for such elements within its rank and file.

Identified as Brigadier Ali Khan, serving in the Regulation Department at the Army's General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, the officer was apparently picked up in May, soon after the U.S. raid in Abbottabad to take out al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Brigadier Khan's links to the Hizb ut-Tahrir (The Liberation Party), which describes itself as a global Islamic political party established in 1953, are under the scanner along with the possible network that this organisation may have established within the Army.

Soon after the May 2 action in Abbottabad, pamphlets of the Hizb ut-Tahrir were apparently found in several cantonment areas inciting people to revolt against the establishment and help in the formation of an Islamic caliphate. One poster said: “Oh, sincere officers within Pakistan's armed forces, remove the traitors amongst the civilian and military leadership, fulfill your obligation by establishing the Khilafah.”

The Hizb ut-Tahrir has also been actively trying to spread its word via Facebook, emails and SMSs commenting on current issues including the Budget and promising that “indirect taxes like General Sales Tax would be ‘haraam' [forbidden] in the ‘Khilafat'…” This is not the first such case. One of the earliest recorded instances of religious rightwing elements penetrating the Army dates back to 1995 when “Operation Khilafat” was attempted by some officers to topple the Benazir Bhutto government and take over the General HQ.

Air Force personnel were reportedly involved in an assassination bid on the former President, Pervez Musharraf, and explosives used in the attempt were stolen from a PAF depot. And, the nature of the attack on PNS Mehran last month point towards inside help for the terrorists.

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