By Gulmina Bilal Ahmad
It is not just the armed forces that have been indoctrinated but the members of civil society, civil services, parliament and every other profession are also being indoctrinated by the ideologies of organisations like Hizb ut-Tahrir
The armed forces are considered, perhaps, as the only institution in Pakistan that is disciplined and well managed. This discipline becomes part and parcel of every soldier. Betrayal and treachery are considered as the most serious crimes in the army, and anyone suspected of it, can go as far as getting a death sentence.
Pakistan has a history deeply intertwined with the armed forces and coups. Constitutionally, the person administrating a coup gets charged with treason. However, so far, none of the martial law administrators have ever been indicted on charges of treason. The armed forces are particularly strict on matters linked to treason or betrayal by serving armed personnel but that only applies to involvement of armed forces’ personnel in espionage for enemies and banned organisations.
The arrest of Brigadier Ali Khan by the Special Investigative Branch (SIB) was carried out when clear links were established between him and the members of a banned organisation, Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT). The detention of an officer serving as a brigadier came as a surprise for many people. However, it should not have been a surprise because the seeds that were sown in the Zia era are now starting to bear fruit. The statement of Major General Athar Abbas, chief of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) also reflected that the armed forces show zero tolerance to such matters. The arrest was made only when the chief of army staff, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani gave the green signal, which shows the severity of the matter. But this is not the first time that armed forces personnel got charged with treason or having links with banned organisations. Back in 2010, two serving army officers were court martialled for their alleged links with Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Hizb ut-Tahrir declares itself as a political movement/organisation that is working for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate across the Muslim countries. This organisation differs from militant organisations because it advocates its cause through literature. Its members have studied at top British and American educational institutes, but strictly go against western values and are striving for a pan-Islamic state. The US particularly considers this organisation as a potential danger because of its ideology, although they do not have a history of violence or terrorism. Pervez Musharraf banned the organisation in Pakistan in 2005 and also advised the UK to do the same but he could not succeed because of the non-involvement of this organisation in terrorism.
The involvement of armed forces personnel with banned organisations and in incidents like the attack on GHQ and PNS Mehran is seriously threatening the integrity of the armed forces, which was once considered as its pride. The extent to which the armed forces have been indoctrinated at different levels has been clearly established by this arrest and others before it. The extent to which society in general has been dogmatised is still unknown. However, it is not just the armed forces that have been indoctrinated but the members of civil society, civil services, parliament and every other profession are also being indoctrinated by the ideologies of organisations like Hizb ut-Tahrir.
The present government has so far been unsuccessful in identifying those elements that are present in their own ranks and are presenting a constant danger to their integrity. A top to bottom cleansing is required to identify and arrest those people that have links with banned organisations and are members of the civil services, government departments and parliament as well.
Pakistan is facing the most crucial time in its history. According to Foreign Policy magazine, it has already been ranked on 12th position in the most failed states index. The political and military establishment of Pakistan would have to take strict actions and decisions that can reflect their sincerity to the cause of saving Pakistan. Donor countries and other allies have already considered our country as corrupt and dangerous. This trust deficit is increasing day by day. Apparently, it is the best time to cleanse the whole system of traitors and corrupt people.
It is important to mention here the publicity campaigns of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which not only reflects how much they spend on such campaigns but also points towards the involvement of the civil administration with Hizb ut-Tahrir or other banned organisations. Expensive posters, each costing around Rs 800, were used to publicise the Caliphate rally in April 2011. Around 30 such posters were hung on signposts only on the Islamabad Park Road, so the total money spent on only one such road is around Rs 24,000. Additionally, according to the Capital Development Authority’s (CDA’s) bylaws, one has to seek permission to hang such posters in Islamabad. A serial number is allotted, which is then printed on every poster. However, there was no serial number written on Hizb ut-Tahrir’s posters, which shows that either the CDA is too incompetent to check such illegal matters or has purposely turned a blind eye towards them.
The failure of the political, civil and military administrations in identifying extremist elements within their ranks has pushed the country into serious trouble. This problem is not just reduced to a particular class of people, but now even the ruling elite and educated classes are being indoctrinated by organisations like Hizb ut-Tahrir. It is high time that some hard but intelligent decisions are taken by the administrative machinery of this country. Double games will not work anymore. Pakistan would have to stand by its decision of eliminating terrorism and extremism from the country, and must define a clear stance that is not based on hypocrisy.
The writer is an Islamabad-based development consultant.
Source: The Daily Times, Lahore