British Intelligence Infiltrating Pakistan Army?


Brig. Khan is a loyal and upright officer, but contacting a foreign, non-Pakistani group linked to British intelligence is a breach and a question of counterintelligence. US media is twisting the story to feed its campaign to incite mutiny within Pakistani Armed Forces. Militant links inside our military is an American conspiracy theory that seeks to demonize and discredit our soldiers. The government and military should do damage-control by challenging the intense propaganda being peddled by our American allies that seeks to break Pakistani military discipline.



ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Brigadier Ali Khan of Pakistan Army was arrested – six weeks ago – because he contacted persons associated with a foreign, UK-based non-Pakistani religious group known for its links to British intelligence. The case is as much about counterintelligence as it is about violation of military discipline. The Pakistani officer is not linked to any militant activity and has no connection to the OBL case or the brazen attack on a naval base on May 22.


This background information is significant because it proves false the conspiracy theories about ‘militant infiltration’ into Pakistani armed forces.


Western media and the American news outlets in particular are wrongly and deliberately linking Brig. Khan’s arrest to his alleged opposition to the country’s feeble position on US pressure and sovereignty violations. This interpretation is spreading in Pakistan, in the absence of any Pakistani damage-control exercise.


There are unconfirmed reports that suggest Brig. Khan disagreed with the way the military has so far handled repeated violations of Pakistani laws and borders by US military and intelligence.


What needs to be emphasized is that, in either case, Brig. Khan violated military discipline and is being questioned. This does not nullify the fact that he is a well respected officer known for his deep loyalty to Pakistan and its Armed Forces. But violation of discipline is a serious offense. Action of this nature is necessary to maintain military discipline within Pakistan Armed Forces, which are one of the top professional militaries in the world.


What Pakistanis need to remember is that there is a concerted effort by anti-Pakistan elements in Washington and some of their proxies in Pakistani politics and media to incite a mutiny inside Pakistani Armed Forces. Having failed to directly engage the country through armed conflict, small insurgencies and a wave of terror was unleashed to break the country from within. As American desperation increases in Afghanistan, some reckless elements within US government, military and intelligence are suspected of mounting a final push to weaken Pakistani military from within by inciting junior officers against the seniors by accusing them of complicity with US interference inside Pakistan.


Unfortunately, in confirming the arrest, the Pakistani government and military should have immediately moved into damage-control. As soon as the story was out yesterday, mostly American news outlets were quick to twist it to suit the ongoing campaign in the mainstream US media that aims at inciting rebellion inside Pakistani military, exploiting popular discontent over deliberate and repeated American humiliation of Pakistan in the past decade. Gleeful US media reports celebrated how this story confirmed the American conspiracy theory that says Pakistani military is infiltrated by religious extremists. The theory allows strong anti-Pakistan elements in the Washington establishment to demonize Pakistan and gradually build a case against Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Almost every American news report contained a line that suggested that US officials suspected links between Pakistani military and ‘extremist groups’. This is a longstanding US position designed for political point scoring. Unfortunately, Pakistani military has for too long ignored this type of irresponsible behavior from an ally that is now showing its true colors.




Pakistani government and military should have gone beyond a simple confirmation of the arrest to underline two important points:


The first point is that Brig. Khan was not found in contact with a ‘militant’ group. The correct definition of the said group, Hizb al Tahrir, is that it is a foreign, non-Pakistani, UK-based group that purports to promote Islam. Also, the group is not involved in militant activity in its hometown, Britain, or anywhere else. So if Brig. Khan contacted an activist from this banned non-Pakistani group, it does not mean ‘militants’ have infiltrated Pakistan military. In this case, anyone insisting otherwise is indulging in the demonization of Pakistan Armed Forces as part of the overall American strategy in Afghanistan.


The second point is that expressing political views or political dissent is a violation of military discipline and cannot be allowed, as DG ISPR has already underlined in his statement to BBC. This point needs to be driven home a number of times to counter the propaganda that seeks – rightly or wrongly – to portray this case as one where an officer is being punished for disapproving the country’s foreign policy. If Brig. Khan did express dissent to the existing method of dealing with US meddling, and regardless of how popular this view is among Pakistanis, incitement of dissent within a disciplined military is dangerous.


The best way to counter this impression is to insist that breaking military discipline is not the way to correct the policy. That would weaken the military institution that is a national asset and a den of Pakistani nationalism. The right way of correcting a flawed foreign policy is through politics and public awareness and pressure.




Hizb al Tahrir was formed by a Palestinian in the early part of the twentieth century. The party never took off but the ideas of its founder survived in books and speeches.


It is stunning to note that this group was revived somewhere in the 1980s and ‘90s in the United Kingdom, of all places. Some of the group’s followers from the Middle East were given political asylum by the UK. Today, Hizb al Tahrir is heavily infiltrated by British intelligence agency, MI6.  British spooks help the group recruit cadres from mostly British Muslim communities.


A number of spy agencies from Arab and western countries have been using this technique to create or place agents inside Muslim groups. India also began using this method to infiltrate Kashmiri freedom groups using Israeli techniques with Palestinian groups. But the United Kingdom has gone a step ahead of everyone else when it became the world’s biggest safe haven for violent extremists from the Middle East. These extremists, rejected by their own countries, received British passports and welfare money to plot extremism in Middle East and Central Asia. [See Is Hizb al Tahrir Another Project of British MI6?]


British-Pakistani members of Hizb al Tahrir have been directed to attempt recruiting officers inside Pakistani military. This raises the specter of British intelligence penetration into Pakistani military to incite rebellion in the guise of Islamic activism.

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