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Bridagier Ali a scapegoat for rising anti-Americanism in Pakistan Army

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Former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Mirza Aslam Beg does not believe that Brigadier Ali Khan and four other officers have been arrested on the grounds of having contacts with a banned organization, the Hizb-ut-Tehrir. "There are some other reasons behind these arrests, which, the present army leadership is concealing," he told The News, a leading newspaper of Pakistan.

Interestingly, BBC Urdu's Asif Farooqi   Brigadier Ali Khan, reports that   Brigadier Ali Khan had been highly critical of the Pakistani army's high command over its relationship with the US.

Un-named colleagues of Brig Ali Khan were quoted by the BBC as saying that he was an officer with a distinguished career, a gold-medallist who was consistently promoted. But he had been exerting strong pressure on the top echelons of Pakistan's military to stop co-operating with American forces in the fight against Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents, army officers who served with the brigadier during his 32-year career told the BBC.

The brigadier joined the army in 1979 and came from a humble background in Pakistan's Punjab province. But his career hit a roadblock when he openly criticized Gen Pervez Musharraf when he was still army chief-of-staff, the BBC said adding:

"At an army course at a prestigious military college in Quetta, Brig Khan asked Gen Musharraf why he would not divulge the details of an agreement with the US to the Pakistani public. The brigadier also said the "limits" of co-operation with the US on "the war on terror" should be clearly defined. A senior military officer who was present at the occasion told the BBC that Gen Musharraf was clearly unhappy with the questions, and had asked around about the officer. A few weeks later, the army promotion board held its regular meeting under Gen Musharraf. Brig Ali, who had been tipped for promotion to major general, was passed over. Successive promotion boards rejected Brig Ali while his colleagues and subordinates continued to rise up the promotion ladder, overtaking him. Indeed, to date, Brig Khan is the oldest brigadier in the Pakistani army.

 "His colleagues thought he would be unable to withstand a career going nowhere and would seek early retirement. But they were soon proved wrong. The brigadier told his colleagues he had more to accomplish in his job. It soon became clear what he meant by that. Brig Khan started writing letters to army generals, some of whom were his former colleagues, with suggestions on how to become "self reliant" and "to purge the army of the American influence".

 According to BBC Grid Ali khan told senior officers such as Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani that Pakistan's "unconditional" support to the Americans was causing resentment in the lower ranks of the army. He said that "growing" American involvement in Pakistan - especially in its military affairs - was negatively affecting the morale of the armed forces. An officer who received one of these letters said that after coming to know that Gen Kayani wanted this sort of correspondence to end, he spoke with his former colleague and politely told him to refrain from annoying the senior leadership. "But Ali wouldn't listen to us. He thought his input was necessary to save the institution he was serving and loved," the officer said.

Brig Ali even wrote to the President Asif Ali Zardari suggesting ways to make Pakistan economically self-reliant by freeing the country of American aid. Khan urged him to abolish the perks and privileges given to senior civil and military officials.

After the Osama Bin Laden episode, he was invited to a meeting on May 5 by his former student and now his boss, Lieutenant General Javed Iqbal at the army headquarters the BBC report said. The question that officers were asked at this meeting was how to pursue an inquiry into the May 2 US commando operation in Abbottabad allegedly killing Osama Bin Laden.

One officer present in the meeting was quoted as saying that all had been going well until it was Brig Khan's turn to speak. In his opinion, "the culprits who had hidden Bin Laden' and allowed the Americans to get away with breaching Pakistan's sovereignty were to be found within the army. Gen Javed Iqbal was furious at the end of the meeting. As it turned out, Brig Khan's views were not those of a lone wolf - he had managed to persuade some of his fellow officers of the veracity of his case. Gen Iqbal promptly told the corps commanders what had happened the following day at a meeting chaired by Gen Kayani. That same evening Brig Khan was arrested.

The BBC quoted army officials as saying that the problem is that his anti-American views and opinions on self reliance were getting popular with middle and lower ranking officers.

Tellingly, the findings of two Pew Research Center surveys of April and May 2011 reflected widespread anti-Americanism in Pakistan. The recent wave of the anti-Americanism, started with the arrest and thereafter release of CIA agent Raymond Davis, who in the broad day light killed two Pakistanis. The incident of May 2, 2011, and attack on PNS Mehran, destroying the surveillance aircrafts (P-3C Orion) have further fuelled this hatred.

"Brigadier held for links with CIA-backed militants"

According to the Nation, Brigadier Ali Khan, who was appointed at the Regulation Directorate in GHQ back in May 2009, came under the surveillance radar of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) earlier this year. After almost six months of surveillance, the ISI and MI in a joint operation, picked up the brigadier from outside his residence. The intelligence authorities reportedly ran a check on him after some "suspicious' people were found frequently visiting his home. The call records of Khan's cell phone confirmed the suspicions of intelligence agencies.

The Nation quoted sources as saying that Brigadier Ali Khan was linked to the section of militants that had direct ties with the Central Investigation Agency (CIA) and the military intelligence agencies arrested him to probe this connection.

Brigadier Ali Khan was detained last month but his arrest was announced only on Tuesday. Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told Reuters on Wednesday that the four majors had been questioned but had not been detained. "They are being questioned in relation to the brigadier case," he said.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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