`Brigadier arrested: Soul-searching time for Pakistan Army’

June 23rd, 2011 - 1:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, June 23 (IANS) It is time for the Pakistan Army to do “some serious soul-searching” following the arrest of a brigadier for his links with a banned group, said a leading daily Thursday.

An editorial in the daily Dawn said: “Radicalisation within the ranks of Pakistan’s armed forces is an issue of major concern, especially considering that the nation is currently in the midst of quelling a militant insurgency.”

“The arrest of Brig Ali Khan, probably the senior-most army officer taken into custody in nearly a decade for alleged links with extremists, should raise the alarm within the security establishment regarding the penetration of radical groups in the ranks,” it added.

The brigadier, posted at General Headquarters, was picked up for suspected links with Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT).

HT has not overtly supported violence and has no ostensible links to Al Qaeda, but it calls for the restoration of the caliphate and the overthrow of `corrupt, pro-West’ governments in Muslim lands.

The editorial noted that though the army has said Brig Khan’s case was “an exception”, “we’re not so sure”.

“In the past, several serving or former armed forces personnel have reportedly been involved in acts of terrorism. Two army officers were reportedly court-martialled for their HT links in 2010 while a former navy commando was picked up from Lahore for allegedly aiding the PNS Mehran attackers.

“So clearly, the forces have a problem with encroaching extremism. Many of the arrested men, mostly serving in the army and air force, had links to extremist Islamist groups.”

It wrapped up, saying: “It is time for the army to do some serious soul-searching.”

“If a serving brigadier can be co-opted, what is the extent of extremist infiltration in the lower ranks?” the editorial wondered.

“The high command needs to intelligently counter the rising radical trend. A thorough cleansing is needed…it is a challenge the army must take up.”

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