ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court was informed on Wednesday that former President Ghulam Ishaq Khan with support of the then Army Chief Mirza Aslam Beg was a key player in all the games played against the constitutionally elected government of Benazir Bhutto in 1988.
A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed heard a suo moto case pertaining to withdrawal of secret IB funds between 1989 to 1990 and 2008-2009 for political purposes.
The court had taken suo moto notice of a report, which appeared in an English daily on March 14, alleging that Rs270 million had been withdrawn by the PPP government to dislodge the Punjab government in 2008-09.
Masood Sharif Khan Khattak, former Joint Director (Internal) in pursuance of the court’s order in a straightforward reply, claimed that in addition to Rs270m, Rs360m had been withdrawn by the PPP government in 1988-1990 to remove the governments in then NWFP and other provinces.
Masood Shairf submitted that the suo moto taken on the report an English newspaper had already been settled judicially 21 years ago.
The was not heard again despite the fact that Mirza Aslam Beg and Ghulam Ishaq Khan (late), ‘had wanted so much to disqualify Benazir Bhutto from politics forever.’ ‘The Lahore High Court Judge was specially designated to hear the accountability cases prepared in the then Presidency under the direct supervision of Ghulam Ishaq Khan and his henchmen of whom Roedad Khan was the most prominent.’
The former DG IB contended that Late Ghulam Ishaq Khan would never have been able to do any such thing but he did so as he was supported and prompted by General Mirza Aslam Beg, the then Army Chief who was, in turn an unquestioned master of his own actions and thinking.
Khattak however, contended that he is convinced that the Army as an institution had nothing to do with all these events and that the individuals mentioned, by virtue of the offices they held, acted in their individual capacities.
Masood Sharif further submitted that Benazir Bhutto was unable to get intelligence information from the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI), thus she had tried to increase IB’s secret fund to make it effective. The former DG, IB claimed that there was a hidden hand of then military chief Gen Mirza Aslam Baig and then ISI chief Lt Gen Asad Durrani in the ‘no confidence move’ against Benazir Bhutto.
He recalled that at the time of vote of no confidence the situation was such that President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, the then Punjab government with the full support of the then Army Chief General Mirza Aslam Beg were grouped together whereas the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto had been reduced to just about the limits of Islamabad Capital Territory with no access to intelligence from the military intelligence agencies.
The isolated Prime Minister was thus heavily dependent upon the Intelligence Bureau for intelligence on the then existing unconstitutional political happenings amongst host of other things, Masood Shairf contended. “The real intelligence effort in those days of dictatorship, obviously, lay in the domain of the MI and the ISI as their service chief was also then the President and Martial Law Administrator of Pakistan. Intelligence Bureau only began to start breathing as an effective agency after the civilian elected government of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto came to power in Dec 1988.”
Tariq Lodhi, another former DG IB also submitted his written reply before the court in the instant case and requested the court to keep his statement over the misuse of IB’s secret fund secret.
The chief justice however noted that all the secret documents pertaining to the matter had come on record. “You can hide information from the whole world but not from the court”, the chief justice asked Tariq Lodhi. The chief justice asked Lodhi to share all the secret information with the court without any hesitation.
The court directed Tariq Lodhi to submit within two days fresh and updated statements over the misuse of secret fund.
During the hearing Attorney General Irfan Qadir appeared for incumbent Director General IB Akhtar Hussain Gorchani.
The court directed him to submit within seven days all the legal justifications and objections in the matter and adjourned the hearing till Friday.