Pakistan Investigates General for Links to Banned Group

Posted June 21st, 2011 at 4:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Pakistan's military has confirmed that an army officer working at the military headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi had been detained for suspected ties to a banned Islamic extremist group.

Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told VOA Tuesday that Brigadier General Ali Khan was being questioned about his links to Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Abbas said the army follows a policy of “zero tolerance” for any such illegal activity, but cautioned it would be a mistake to link General Khan's detention with extremist groups like al-Qaida or the Taliban.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir is an international Islamist organization that calls for a return to a pan-Islamic Caliphate under Islamic law. Although the group does not advocate violence, it is believed to have links to militant groups.

The Pakistani military spokesman said General Khan's investigation is separate from recent allegations that other Pakistani officials have been detained following the May 2 raid by U.S. special forces that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.

According to Ali Khan's family, the brigadier general was put into detention shortly after the raid.

Many critics in Pakistan and around the world say the Pakistani military is deeply infiltrated by extremist groups, making suspect its loyalty in the international effort against terrorism.

The discovery of bin Laden in Pakistan raised questions as to whether members of Pakistan's military or intelligence knew the al-Qaida leader was hiding out not far from the capital, Islamabad.

Pakistan has rejected such allegations and insists it is doing everything it can to combat militancy.