From his prison cell, a senior Pakistani officer accused of plotting with a shadowy Islamist organization to take over the military released his political manifesto: His call was for the army to sever its anti-terror alliance with the United States, which he contends is forcing Pakistan to fight its own people.
"This may help us redeem some of our lost dignity and we badly need that," Brig. Ali Khan writes in the six-page document obtained by The Associated Press. The U.S., he says, might retaliate by cutting military and economic aid, but "do they not always do this at will? ... Our fears that the heavens will fall must be laid to rest."
The manifesto reveals the ideological underpinnings of the most senior Pakistani military officer detained for alleged ties to Islamist extremists.
The accusations against Khan go to the heart of a major Western fear about Pakistan: that its army could tilt toward Islamic extremism or that a cabal of hardline officers could seize the country's most powerful institution, possibly with the help of al-Qaida or associated groups like the Pakistani Taliban. Pakistani leaders dismiss such worries as ungrounded.
Details of the case, made public for the first time by The Associated Press, point to efforts by some Islamist groups to recruit within Pakistan's military, though their success appears mixed. They also give a rare look into the discontent among some in the military over the rocky relationship with the United States, currently on hold after American airstrikes killed 24 Pakistani border troops in November.
Khan, who was arrested a year ago, faces charges of conspiring with four other officers and a British member of Hizb ut-Tahrir to recruit officers to the group including the commander of the army's 111 Brigade, which covers the capital and has been historically linked to army coups.
Image: In this Friday, May 11, 2012 photo, Pakistani supporters of the banned Islamist organization Hizbut Tahrir, chant slogans and hold a banner that reads, "the state-sponsored abduction of Hizbut Tahrir spokesman Naveed Butt cannot stop the emergence of caliphate," during a protest in Lahore, Pakistan.