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How Pakistan foiled an Egypt-like uprising

July 25, 2011 15:02 IST

Banned radical outfit Hizb ut-Tahrir had planned an Egypt-like uprising in Pakistan by roping in "like-minded" elements in the powerful military, just days before the army detained certain senior officers in May for links with the group, a media report said on Monday.

Correspondence between the Punjab Police, the Inter-Services Intelligence and the federal government in April contained a "clear warning" about the HuT attempting a "deep infiltration" of the military and academia, this year, The Express Tribune newspaper reported on Monday.

A letter from intelligence agencies to law enforcement agencies said the HuT was working on a plan for an uprising in Pakistan similar to the ones in Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year.

"They wanted an Arab spring in Pakistan," said an official familiar with the letter.

Wary of the HuT's burgeoning network and in an apparent early warning about the group's growing influence, the Crime Investigation Department of police called for "appropriate" steps to control the group that wants to establish a caliphate in Pakistan by overthrowing the elected government, the report said.

"All were forewarned about what was coming," an unnamed official was quoted as saying by the daily.

The Pakistan Army detained Brigadier Ali Khan, who was serving as director for rules and regulations at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, in May for alleged links with HuT. The army has also confirmed it is questioning four majors of the Pakistan Army for their alleged links with the banned group.

The detention of Khan and the four majors came after months of correspondence between various law enforcement and intelligence agencies that hinted at the suspicious activities of HuT activists and their possible collaboration with military personnel, particularly in Punjab, The Express Tribune reported.

The five officers are still in the army's custody and might face court martial for 'inciting fellow officers for a mutiny", the report said.

The letter from intelligence agencies urged law enforcement officials to take "preventive or pre-emptive measures" to avert any untoward incident and to make efforts to "identify and apprehend the miscreants before they succeed in their nefarious designs".

HuT has regularly been distributing pamphlets and leaflets in middle and upper-middle class residential areas of Pakistan's large cities. This activity gained momentum after the successful uprising in Tunisia.

In its pamphlets, the HuT specifically addressed the armed forces, urging military personnel and the public, especially the youth, to make concerted efforts to get rid of the government, while citing the example of Tunisia.

The pamphlets sought to use growing anti-American sentiments, inciting people against what HuT described as "pro-American" generals who it said had engaged a "Muslim" army in a war with their brothers in the tribal areas at the behest of the US.

Shortly after the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2, the HuT distributed pamphlets in military cantonments that called on army officers to establish an Islamic caliphate.

Intelligence agencies have warned that the HuT is trying to mobilise public opinion in favour of establishing a caliphate in Pakistan by overthrowing the government.

As a first step towards the proposed revolution, the group wants to organise an Arab-style uprising that would have the support of the armed forces.

If the HuT cannot get generals to support its plans at the institutional level, it would seek officers who were supportive of its ideology to carry out its mission in an individual capacity, The Express Tribune reported.

After the arrest of serving army officers for their alleged links with HuT, the government detained some office-bearers of the banned group.

Rezaul H Laskar In Islamabad
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