June 22, 2011 / 12:35 PM / 8 years ago

Four Pakistani majors questioned over Islamist links

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan’s army, under pressure to root out Islamist sympathisers in its ranks, said Wednesday it had questioned four majors over links to the banned Hizb-ul-Tahrir Islamist group.

Their questioning followed the arrest of a brigadier who was serving in military headquarters in the garrison town of Rawalpindi.

Brigadier Ali Khan, detained last month, was the highest-ranking serving officer arrested in a decade. His detention was announced only Tuesday.

Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told Reuters Wednesday the four majors had been questioned but had not been detained. “They are being questioned in relation to the brigadier case,” he said.

The arrest of the brigadier has raised fears about the growth in the military of the Islamist group, which sees nuclear-armed Pakistan as a powerful potential base for the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate.

The group, whose name means “Party of Liberation,” says it is non-violent, but security analysts say they believe it acts as a gateway to violent militant groups.

Pakistan is under pressure to root out any suspected Islamist militant sympathisers from its ranks after Osama bin Laden was found and killed by U.S. forces in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2.

U.S. officials have said the al Qaeda leader may have been helped by some elements within the Pakistani security establishment.

Reporting by Zeeshan Haider; Writing by Myra MacDonald; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Chris Allbritton

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