LAHORE   -  Admonishing the government for sweeping Asghar Khan case under the carpet, the Supreme Court has summoned a number of civilian heavyweights and former military big guns on June 6 to explain their position.

The said case involves army’s direct interference in the 1990 general elections and funding by the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to certain politicians and others for blocking the Benazir Bhutto’s return to power.

The apex court has already heard this case and is now hearing the case of implementation of its earlier verdict – which requires further investigation and action by the government.

A two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heard the implementation case on Saturday, and issued notices to ex-PM Nawaz Sharif, Javed Hashmi, Altaf Hassan Qureshi, Abida Hussain and 17 other politicians who had received money from the ISI.

The court also issued summons to former army chief Mirza Aslam Beg, ISI ex-chief Lt-Gen (r) Asad Khan Durrani, a former head of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as well as a number of officials from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for the next hearing.

Benazir government had been dismissed by then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan on a number of charges and the establishment did not want her to return through the election at any cost. The two-time Punjab chief minister Nawaz Sharif became the prime minister as result of the 1990 elections, only to be dismissed by the same president in 1993.

During Saturday’s court proceedings, Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali submitted a report regarding the cabinet’s decision in the Asghar Khan case, saying that the cabinet had decided to enforce Supreme Court’s orders in letter and spirit. He also said the cabinet had directed the FIA to continue investigation in the case.

But the CJP asked him what strategy had been made to ensure recover of the money given to the politicians and others. The bench, on the request of the attorney general, ordered the court staff to re-seal the “confidential report” regarding the cabinet meeting and hand it over the AGP.

The CJP, however, expressed dismay over lack of progress in the case. He observed that by making a sub-committee for implementation of the court orders, the government in fact swept the issue under the carpet.

He questioned why the government did not do anything concrete. “It is a serious case but the government is showing no interest [in it],” he further remarked.

Case history

In 1996, Air Marshal Asghar Khan had moved a human rights petition before the SC, submitting that Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was accused of doling out money to a group of politicians in the 1990s.

The case was initiated by the air marshal after Benazir Bhutto’s interior minister, retired general Naseerullah Babar, had revealed in the National Assembly in 1994 that how the ISI had disbursed funds to purchase the loyalty of politicians and public figures so as to manipulate the 1990 elections, form the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), and bring about the defeat of the PPP.

A top court bench led by former CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry through an order on Oct 19, 2012 had directed the executive to take action against former generals Aalsm Beg and Durrani for distributing millions of rupees among politicians against the Pakistan People’s Party.

The SC had also directed the FIA to probe into the matter against politicians, including Nawaz Sharif, who had allegedly received donations to spend on election campaigns in the 1990 election.

In a landmark judgment, 16 years after the institution of the petition, the Chaudhry-led bench held that the 1990 elections had been polluted by dishing out Rs140 million to a particular group of politicians only to deprive the people of being represented by their chosen representatives.

The court had, however, thrown the ball back to the then PPP government by directing it to take necessary action under the constitution and law against former army chief Beg and ISI ex-chief Durrani for their illegal conduct.

 

According to information gathered by The Nation, an amount of Rs140 million was deposited in Karachi accounts by one Yunas Habbi while a total of Rs6 million were distributed as directed by then Chief of Army Staff and the remaining money was transferred to a special fund.

 

List of ‘beneficiaries’

As per the affidavit submitted by former ISI DG Asad Durrani, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had received Rs3.5 million, Jamat-i-Islami Rs5m, Syeda Abida Hussain Rs1m, former KP CM Mir Afzal Rs10m, former Sindh CM Jam Sadiq Rs5 million, Muhammd Khan Junejo Rs2.5m, Pir Pagara Rs2m, Altaf Hassan Qureshi and Mustafa Sadiq Rs0.5m each, Maulana Salauddin Rs0.3 and miscellaneious groups Rs5.4 million.

The recipients also included, Jam Yousaf who received Rs0.75m, Humayun Mari (son-in-law of Akbar Bugti) Rs1.5m, a prominent Jamali tribe leader Rs4m, a Kakar tribe leader Rs1m, a Bazinjo tribe leader Rs0.50m and Nadeem Mengal Rs1m.

General Durrani added to the list of recipients a few more names in his letter submitted on June 7, 1994 which included Mustafa Khar Rs2m, Hafeez Pirzada Rs3m, Sarwar Cheema Rs0.5m and Miraj Khalid Rs0.2m.

The remaining Rs80m of the total of Rs140m was either deposited in the ISI’s ‘K’ fund (Rs60m) or given to Director External Intelligence for special operations.

According to details provided by former Sindh chief of the Military Intelligence (MI) Brig (r) Hamid Saeed Akhtar on Oct 18 this year, six accounts were opened in different banks and on the directions of the MI director general the funds were remitted to different accounts, including one of GHQ (Rs40m) and regional office of MI Quetta (Rs10.5m), while Rs3.828m was sent to Sindh Regimental Centre for construction of men’s living barracks, interrogation cells and other expenses.

As for the funding to politicians, media persons and others, Hamid revealed that Rs5 million were remitted to the account of interim prime minister Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, Sindh interim chief minister Jam Sadiq Ali (Rs5m), Muhammad Khan Junejo (Rs2.5m), Abdul Hafeez Pirzada (Rs3m), Sibghatullah Pir Pagara (Rs2m), Muzaffar Hussain Shah (Rs3m twice), Ghulam Ali Nizamani (Rs0.3m), Arbab Ghulam Rahim (Rs0.2m), Salahud Din of Takbeer newspaper (Rs3m), and Yousaf Haroon (Rs5m).

The remaining amount of Rs67m, including interest, was later sent to the GHQ, along with bank statements, according to the former MI officer.

 

 

SC raps govt for inaction over Asghar Khan case

 

FIDA HUSSNAIN