Skip to content

Hizb ut-Tahrir in Pakistan

August 11, 2011

Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT) has been in the news ever since the arrest earlier this year of Brigadier Ali Khan, who was serving at the military’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. He was alleged to have links to HuT. According to a recent news report, long before the arrest of Brig. Ali Khan, the intelligence agencies had warned that HuT was planning an Egyptian and Tunisian style uprising in Pakistan.

HuT is a global political party. It aims to establish an ‘Islamic’ way of life in Muslim countries and to unify them under a caliphate. HuT was founded in 1953 in Jerusalem by the religious cleric Taqiuddin an-Nabhani. HuT is present in several European, Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries. However, it is the UK that is considered to be a main recruiting ground for HuT. Interestingly, the UK government has not explicitly banned HuT because it is a non-violent party.

In Pakistan, Hizb ut-Tahrir was established during the 1990s. For the most part, the party workers remained underground. Party members are usually highly educated and are proficient in both English and Urdu. In recent years, the only known face representing HuT in Pakistan has been University of Illinois graduate Naveed Butt. His video messages often appear on the Internet where he can be seen advocating the creation of a caliphate and censuring the Pakistani government and military for their corrupt practices.

An independent think-tank, Pak Institute for Peace Studies, based in Islamabad, presented a paper on Hizb ut-Tahrir in October 2010. According to that paper HuT considers the constitution and the democratic system of Pakistan un-Islamic. Their sole aim is to bring a caliphate to Pakistan and from there expand the struggle to establish the caliphate in the rest of the world’s Islamic countries and even in non-Muslim states. Theoretically, this ideology bears close resemblance with what Zaid Hamid propagates in terms of “Ghazwa-i-Hind,” with the core principles of Tehreek-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Muhammadi and also with Al-Qaeda about the establishment of a caliphate system in the Islamic countries.

The apparently non-violent stance sets Hizb ut-Tahrir apart from militant Islamic organisations in Pakistan. It is usually stated that Hizb ut-Tahrir believes in armed struggle (jihad) against hostile states only after establishing a caliphate in an Islamic country, preferably Pakistan, as opposed to the current wave of jihad. However, HuT does not expressly condemn terrorist strikes against civilian and military targets either, which makes many believe that the underlying ideology of HuT is actually not based on non-violence.

The modus operandi of HuT is to bring the personnel of military forces, the members of academia and the elite under its umbrella. Unlike usual revolutionary movements, HuT aims to bring change through the military because it is well aware that the military is the strongest institution in Pakistan. The arrest of military personnel accused of having connections with HuT corroborates that HuT is striving to achieve its goal through the military.

Before the arrest of Brigadier Ali Khan, there were at least three incidents that indicated a nexus between HuT and certain elements within the military. Seymour Hersh in his 2009 article “Defending the Arsenal” noted that HuT had recruited members of a junior officer group from a Pakistani military academy who had been sent to England for a training course. In 2009, former commanding officer of Shamsi Air Force Base Colonel Shahid Bashir, a retired PAF Squadron Leader and lawyer Nadeem Ahmad Shah and US-educated mechanical engineer Awais Ali Khan were arrested for their connections with Hizb ut-Tahrir and for leaking sensitive information to the terrorist outfit.

The slain journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad in his book, Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, said that former President Musharraf’s security officer Major Farooq was a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir. Saleem Shahzad wrote that it was discovered nine months after Major Farooq’s posting as security officer that he was affiliated with HuT. He was arrested, later released and retired from the Pakistan military.

As far as Hizb ut-Tahrir’s manifesto in Pakistan is concerned, it aims to liberate the ummah from the dominance of kufr. They don’t exclude women from participating in public life; however, they forbid professions where, according to manifesto “feminism is exploited,” such as modelling, being a flight attendant and being a personal secretary. The manifesto states that the caliphate would end the slavish foreign policy. Friendly relations would be established with other states, however, no economic, cultural or diplomatic relations would be maintained with hostile states that have occupied Muslim lands.

Further, the caliph would carry Islam to the whole world through propagation and jihad. The manifesto denounces Pakistan’s policy of “minimum deterrence” as the caliph will seek military superiority. The caliph would not participate in the “colonist tools” such as United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Justice and education would be for all. The nation would be trained in both religious knowledge and other natural and social sciences.

The promise of justice, education and basic necessitates could lure people easily to this organisation. Moreover, the apparent non-violent stance also plays positively for those who are sick and tired of the system.

The question is, however, can HuT achieve its high aims through a bloodless coup or will it push Pakistani society into a civil war? More importantly, is it the system that fails or the people that fail the system? Can’t justice, education and basic necessities for people be achieved without a call for a caliphate across the world if we get the right people?

This article can also be found on: Newsline

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Uljalool permalink
    August 13, 2011 11:22 am

    A well written and informative article. I must congratulate the writer for being able to stay completely neutral while stating the facts and this is the quality which deserves highest praise. Now coming back to HUT and its utopian-agenda. Our history is interspersed with such movements which tried to bring in equality, dignity and justice for all root out the immorality and corruption, some succeeded for short intervals others failed and faded away. It is the high time, when we badly need in Pakistan to reform and replace the existing system because it has miserably failed to work for the common person on the street but the most significant condition with two fold clause that needs to be met before embarking upon, first the people who are to be the beneficiary of change ought not only to know their duties and rights as part of Ummah but fully practice them without fail and are incorruptible the second is even more important this is homogeneity, the people must belong to the one racial and ligual stock. The faith alone does not have the binding force of the same magnitude that of a single group which shares a common language and social structure but
    faith helps in steering you in the right direction. In Pakistan or for that matter in the Indian Su Continent it is next to impossible to meet the above given conditions or criteria and therfore I have my doubts if such movements be ever more than a minscule dot in the political and social panaroma of our nation. Ramazan Mubarak to all my Sisters and Brothers.

  2. Uzma permalink
    August 18, 2011 5:13 pm

    Salam, like the article…i would like to discuss further with you. please contact via email. Thanx

  3. Takhalus permalink
    August 22, 2011 9:48 pm

    Good article Few groups annoy me as much as the HUT.. They r power hungry ppl who wrap themselves in Islamist colours..unfortunately they are Britains ‘best’ export having spread from Indonesia to Tajikistan now.

    Still despite there presence in the fauj are a reflection of a generation of depoliticised pakistanis disconnected from normal political processes.

    • August 24, 2011 5:22 pm

      Right. And the HuT trying to influence the fauj is scary than perhaps their other political activities.

    • Hassan permalink
      March 21, 2012 8:06 am

      very well said…… i want to join this org. plz let me know how???

  4. September 9, 2011 9:37 am

    Nice article. I think its the people who fail the system. We need to fix ourselves.
    And yes I am back to blogging now 😀
    hope you would like my our new blogsite

  5. bilal@cheapdesignerhandbags permalink
    December 26, 2011 8:52 pm

    your article is very nice and eye opening to those who are sleeping

  6. January 6, 2012 12:00 pm

    why aren’t you writing these days?

  7. Uljalool permalink
    January 18, 2012 11:23 pm

    Tazeen; I myself have been wondering too all this time Why all of a sudden she decided to quit writing. What a great loss for us readers who genuinely enjoyed reading her blogs.

  8. April 23, 2012 1:40 am

    I’m not sure what to think, where caliphate seems like a phantom dream now, I don’t know the groups or their actions , and I don’t know the people who follow them but uniting the Muslims under one non corrupt leadership IS a noble goal… Having said that, it too is very fantastical at the time being …

    I would give them the benefit of the doubt … Thought right now we need to build self esteem more than any call for unity …

    Muslims are broken ….

  9. Ajmal Khan permalink
    April 30, 2012 12:54 pm

    I want to join the party.How?

  10. July 11, 2012 7:53 am

    I don’t want to comment on HuT, however, I want to say that anyone who thinks that Islam actually supports one particular system of governance (e.g a Caliphate, as many believe) or that Islam actually left us with a model to strictly follow is a ‘compleat’ idiot.

  11. September 4, 2012 7:20 pm

    Wanted to write some words about Hizb ut-Tahrir for my website as i stumbled upon your blog. MashAllah marvelous work, i must say… Although you have snatched opportunity from me to write something about this topic anymore . nice job anyway 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: