The arrest of a brigadier and the questioning of four majors for being linked to the Hizbut Tahrir should be seen in the context of the recent reports in the American media of COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani being in difficulties within the army itself over the Abbottabad raid, not because there was sympathy for Osama bin Laden, who was killed in it, but because it showed that Pakistans airspace could be entered by any foreign invader. As India had made noises about this through its COAS, army officers in Pakistan, who thought protecting Pakistan against India was the purpose of their lives, were upset and apparently took this out on the COAS. However, there are other things in the background. First is the report, denied by the ISPR, of the arrest of another major for passing information about Osama to the CIA. Then there is the coincidence of this incident with the AJK elections, due on June 26. Most striking of all is the resemblance of this to the Rawalpindi Conspiracy case of 1951, in which a mix of civilians and army officers conspired to carry out a communist coup against the elected government of that time. The Rawalpindi Conspiracy case involved civilians, but it was the suppression of the Jamaat-i-Islami that made it clear that the military would brook no political activity, because it would brook no ideological challenge to any officer or enlisted mans loyalty to itself. While there have been other conspiracies between the two Rawalpindi conspiracies, they were mostly about removing Ziaul Haq and returning to the PPP rule, occurring during the Zia era. Speaking of Zia, his Islamisation drive only proves the point: That was the Jamaat-i-Islami apogee, as a fellow Doaba Arain, in Mian Tufail Muhammad, became Amir of the Jamaat, and made it provide Zia political support, but at the price of him making the state more Islamic. This brings one to the crucial question of what prompted these officers to turn to the Hizbut Tahrir. First, it seems that the successful co-option of the local religious parties by the ISI leaves the Hizb as virtually the only alternative. Also, it is not a local political party. Founded by a Palestinian, it is not a Palestinian party, and is not even an Arab party. It propounds that Islam has the solution to lifes problems, and calls for the restoration of the Caliphate, as the means of bringing back the Islamic ruling system. The methodology prescribed for members is to follow the example of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Moreover, it does not recognise state borders, and unlike the Jamaat-i-Islami or the Ikhwanul Muslimeen, has not broken up into parties on national lines, but remains one party, and is probably the only party which can carry out an activity throughout the Muslim world. The activity may be a demo of some sort. Also, its events are attended by Muslims from all countries, with the foreigners merely members of other branches of the party. Though it is difficult to say anything about the officers concerned, one of the things about the Hizb is its orthodoxy. The call for a caliphate is actually very orthodox, as shown both by those states which lay claim to Islamic status and orthodox scholars. It also calls for Nusra, or help, from the military, which basically means an anti-American coup. In addition, it does not mind something that has not yet happened in Pakistan: A colonels coup. The Hizb may well prefer such a coup, because if it is led from the top, the coupmaker may want power for himself, which would defeat the purposes of the Hizb. Apart from orthodoxy, which would appeal to those who are more religious-minded by bent, the Caliphate would solve the problems that the Pakistan Army has put to itself, and which it seems that Pakistan alone cannot do. The question of Kashmir is foremost, and would see a solution in all of India coming under the Caliphate. That would make the problem of Afghanistan go away, for it too would become part of the Caliphate. One reason why the Caliphate idea is not more widely adopted in the Pakistan Army is that it would mean the absorption of Pakistan. Also, it would mean that the Pakistan Army would be absorbed into a Caliphate army. Combining all of those coup-prone armies into one big one would have its own dangers, assuming of course that this ever happened. That would be a major leap for nationalists like the Pakistan Army, but it should be remembered that traditionally, the army has depended on Islam to help it fight. One reaction of this fighting came in 1977, when Ziaul Haq rode a wave of Islamic sentiment to power. It must be remembered that the Hizbut Tahrir is essentially a political party, though it rejects the basis on which all modern politics rests, and is thus essentially a civilian institution. Thus, it is unlikely to lead a traditional coup in Pakistan, but would go for a colonels coup. And a coup there must be, for if the Hizb is to rid itself of the Americans, the army of the country must be on board. The army is not just defending its professionalism, but also its ideology. Perhaps more than anything else, it has been shaped by its coups. It has actually had four coups, one more than the wars it has fought. It must be estimated a coup-prone army. It fits with the description given by S.E. Finer in his seminal The Man on Horseback; the epochal study of coups. Though it was primarily based on Latin American armies, Finers study paid particular attention to the modernising function of the armies. One of the modernising factors for a young man, with only military training between him and the village or neighbourhood he comes from, is Islam. At the same time, Islam is all he has left to cling to; as it is not debunked as much by modernity as the other aspects of his life. The idea of a military career as a vehicle of social mobility is an old one; one that predates the British. Because of this, the idea of death in battle has needed reinforcement from Islam, which has had unfortunate consequences for the war on terror. It is no coincidence that the arrested brigadier, like the present COAS, is the son of a JCO. The army is also a political party, and while non-coupmaking armies make their militaries stay out of politics, coup making armies are very much involved in politics. Like any other political party, it does not allow dual membership. There must be no divided loyalties. During the Rawalpindi Conspiracy the army did not allow a split loyalty out of a sense of professionalism, the present arrest comes with an eye to the future. It almost seems that one of the problems of modern democracy is how to prevent the military from intervening in politics. The Hizb provides a way out, because it is against any 'free-enterprise jihad, and makes it necessary for there to be an Islamic state to conduct any jihad. It thus sees the present militancy as against its concepts. However, as the Hizb does not reject the concept of jihad, it is accounted dangerous. After all, one of the purposes of an Islamic state would be to facilitate jihad. Brigadier Ali Khan obviously believed in the Hizbut Tahrir. Not only did it answer his questions about the Creator, life and the universe, but it also provided him a vehicle for the anti-Americanism he must have felt, if he was a Pakistan Army officer. His trial will probably be behind closed doors, but it would throw light not just on extremism, but also on the army today. n Email: