ISLAMABAD - A military court on Friday awarded rigorous imprisonments to five Army officers, a Brigadier and four Majors, after having found them guilty of having links with a banned outfit, upon the completion of the Court Martial proceedings.
“Field General Court Martial (FGCM) proceedings against Brigadier Ali Khan, Major Inayat Aziz, Major Iftikhar, Major Sohail Akbar and Major Jawad Baseer have been completed. All five accused have been convicted besides other, of the charges for having links with a proscribed organisation,” Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.
The five Army officers were picked by the military intelligence agencies last year after months of surveillance amidst the suspicions that they had ‘strong’ and ‘direct’ links with Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a banned organisation in Pakistan.
In its first ever-recorded version on the issue, the HT’s Deputy spokesman Imran Yousufzai had neither confirmed nor denied the suspected links between the HT and the five Army officers, during a interview with The Nation printed June 24, 2011. “As policy, we neither confirm nor deny such news. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) sought Nusra (material power) and did not share details with the companions even. This is sacred work of global HT leadership and we continue to call people in power to give Nusra (material power) to Hizb-ut-Tahrir for re-establishment of Khilafah (Caliphate),”he had said.
The military statement said, the FGCM has awarded a sentence of five years rigorous imprisonment to Brigadier Ali Khan, Major Sohail Akbar has been handed down three years RI, Major Jawad Baseer sentenced two years RI, whereas Major Inayat Aziz and Major Iftikhar have been awarded 18 months RI each.
Convicts have the right to an appeal against conviction before the Army Court of Appeals as provided in the Pakistan Army Act, the statement added.
Brigadier Ali Khan was appointed at the Regulation Directorate at General Headquarters (GHQ) back in May 2009. He reportedly came under the surveillance radar of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) earlier last year.
After almost six months of surveillance, the ISI and MI, in a joint action, were reported to have picked the Brigadier from outside his residence on May 6, 2011. The intelligence authorities reportedly ran a check on him after some ‘suspicious’ persons were found frequently visiting his home.
Official said, the call records of Brigadier Ali’s cell phone confirmed the suspicions of intelligence agencies. Further probe into the matter had unearthed that four Majors were linked to Brigadier Ali and had strong association with HT.
The HT was labelled as a militant organisation and banned from functioning in 2003 during the former President Pervez Musharraf’s era. Musharraf had suspected that organisations like HT were instrumental in planning life attempts on him.
Brigadier Ali was to retire from Pakistan Army in June last year.
“We follow zero tolerance policy of such activities within the military. Therefore prompt action was taken on detection,” the former Director General ISPR Major General (Retd) Athar Abbas had commented to confirm the Brigadier’s and Majors arrests last June.
The Brigadier was to get a plot, already allocated for him, as per his official entitlement, upon his retirement from the Army at the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) Rawalpindi. The said plot has been confiscated following his Court Martial, according to informed officials.
“In a couple of days, the confiscation notice would be circulated through an internal announcement,” officials said.
This newspaper tried to get HT’s version on the issue but its spokesman Naveed Butt and Deputy Spokesman Imran Yousufzai were not available for comments.
“We reject this trial and we would continue our mission,” an HT official, requesting anonymity said.