By: Naimat Khan
KARACHI: Hizb-ut-Tahrir – a global movement for the establishment of worldwide Caliphate – has formed a militant wing in Pakistan, sources said.
According credible sources, the group has formed a separate wing for carrying out terrorist attacks. A police official, on the condition of anonymity, told this scribe that detained members of the group have made this startling revelation.
The wing was formed after an unannounced crackdown against the group’s members, who were unhappy with the group narratives of bringing change through ‘positive’ impact from within the power corridors.
“It’s unclear whether the militant wing of HuT is enjoying the endorsement from its international leadership or it’s locally formed. It’s also not clear whether the wing has been formed by some disgruntled leaders and workers without local approval as well but they [ detained suspects] have told interrogators a group has opted for change through guns”, source told.
“Law enforcement agencies are trying to substantiate the claim of two parallel organizations with Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which strives for ‘change through mind’ without resorting to violence,” source said.
The claim couldn’t be verified from the HT due to ban on coverage of proscribed organizations in Pakistan. However, the development has come to fore when according to sources a joint intelligence work between Pakistan and UK is supposed to be kicked off. Some believe that intelligence agencies of both countries are already working on averting terrorism threat from the group, which is legitimate for UK but banned in Pakistan.
A report published in this daily last month stated the group’s member were exposed to militants organization, including Islamic State (IS) to join their ranks.
“We want to replace the current ‘prohibited’ system of western democracy with Islamic Caliphate,” Pakistan head of HuT Naveed Butt, told this scribe during an interview in Karachi, weeks before his ‘alleged disappearance’ in mid of 2012.
Butt, who was also the outfit’s spokesperson in Pakistan, said the current system, which has popular mass support will be replaced through a ““change of minds, especially of those who have a say in country affairs.”
We don’t subscribe to the views of the Taliban, he said, adding the organisation was working on the “powerful” of the country.
Founded in 1953 as a Sunni Muslim organisation in Jerusalem by Taqiuddin al-Nabhani, an Islamic scholar and a judge, over the years, HuT has spread to more than 50 countries, particularly the United Kingdom, Arab and Central Asian states, with an estimated one million members.
In Pakistan, the HuT was proscribed by former military dictator General (R) Parvez Musharraf in 2004. It is still among the list of banned outfits.
The HuT had a soft corner for Pakistan’s security establishment but turned critical when the military media wing, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), confirmed on August 2, 2012 Brigadier Ali Khan, Major Inayat Aziz, Major Iftikhar, Major Sohail Akbar and Major Jawad Baseer were facing charges for having links with the banned outfit.
Many HuT activists off the record have confessed that Brigadier Khan, among others were products of the ‘change of minds’ narrative.
Though HuT’s activities were never open, it somehow interacted with important circles, which came to an end after the conviction of Brigadier Khan and the disappearance of Butt. Law enforcers apprehended a number of outfit’s activists in the following days.
The proscribed organisation claims several of its activists have been arrested despite the claim that their movement for implementation of Shariah was “never violent”. Recently, police authorities disclosed the arrest of two of its senior members.
On Tuesday October 6, 2015, police told media they had arrested an engineering and business graduate, Ovais Raheel from the city’s Boat Basin area. The suspect, police claimed, was targeting educated youngsters in the Defence and Clifton areas to use them “for illegal activities” with a view to implementing “Caliphate” in the country.
“The suspect has been arrested under Section 11EEEE (1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act,” Mazhar Mashwani of the Counter-Terrorism Department told media during a press conference. The suspect’s wife claims her husband is innocent.
Later on Friday, November 27, 2015, CTD claimed to have arrested the HuT’s Karachi chief, Hisam Qamar. The suspect, police said, was working in K-Electric as a deputy general manager.
Fifteen days before the police disclosed his arrest, Hisam family held a news conference at Karachi Press Club, claiming he was ‘abducted’ by LEAs a few days ago.
Besides arrests for distributing pamphlets in favour of the militant group, wall chalking related to IS has appeared in Quetta and Lahore. Lahore police claims it was done by Hizb activists.
Army General Raheel Sharif, who reportedly sought British government’s help against the outlawed HuT during UK visit in January last year, has also time and again said “not even a shadow of Daesh” will be tolerated in Pakistan. Similar stance has been conveyed by the country’s Foreign Office.
“Though no proper connection between the two has been established, workers of HuT remain vulnerable to IS, which has the same goal but through the use of force,” says Muhammad Amir Rana, security analyst, who is also a director of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) in Islamabad.
Published in The Frontier Post