ISLAMABAD - Had Mirza Aslam Beg realised his responsibility, there would have been no coup in 1999 by Pervez Musharraf and the event of November 3 would not had taken place, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said on Wednesday while hearing Asghar Khan’s petition.

The chief justice remarked that they (judges) and the petitioner (Air Marshal (r) Asghar Khan) were not against the institutions but the individuals who tarnished the image of the Army and the ISI. He dropped a hint that the 16-year-old case may be concluded on Thursday (today).

He also observed that involving themselves in politics is a violation of generals’ own oath.

The CJ was heading a three-member bench that also comprised Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain that the case of alleged distributed Rs140 million by the ISI among politicians in 1990 elections to create the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) for preventing Benazir Bhutto’s PPP from winning the polls.

Brig (r) Hamid Saeed, who was serving in MI at that time and who purportedly distributed the funds among the politicians, will appear before the bench today. The court had issued him notice on Oct 16.

During the proceeding, it was informed that Hamid was ill. The chief justice then directed SC Registrar to contact him on phone and convey him the message regarding appearance before the bench. The Registrar after talking to him informed that the retired officer will appear before the bench on Thursday.

Akram Sheikh, counsel for former Army Chief General (r) Mirza Aslam Beg, read out a statement of his client saying that Rs60 million were distributed among the politicians, while the remaining Rs80 million was deposited in the ISI accounts. The court ordered the defence ministry to submit details of that Rs80 million.

Salman Akram Raja, counsel for Air Marshal (r) Asghar Khan backed ISI’s claim that the shadowy funds were not kept in their accounts but that of the MI’s. He told the court that five banks accounts were opened under the title ‘Survey and Construction’ and for seven years their “details was secured in the State Bank of Pakistan”, which could trace these details.

The counsel said that according to ISI ex-chief Lt-Gen (r) Asad Durrani’s statement, there must be institutional record regarding the said amount (Rs80 million) and the defence ministry could provide appropriate information in this regard.

The chief justice directed Director (Legal) Ministry of Defence Commander Shahbaz to submit the details of Rs80 million and that whether the money was still available in those accounts. “Let me check it with the concerned quarter, Commander Shahbaz replied.

The bench observed that according to some documents available with the court, Rs30 million were transferred in the accounts of an organisation, called FRIENDS, owned by Mirza Aslam Beg. The court further said that General (r) Asif Nawaz Janjua (who followed Aslam Beg as Army Chief) had also expressed concern over transfer of that amount.

Secretary to President Asif Hayat filed the report regarding political cell in the Presidency and informed the court that “since 2008 there is no election cell in the Presidency”. He, however, said that Military Secretary to President has some files, but he is out of country, adding that after reviewing those files they would submit a second reply.

The chief justice said that they had inquired whether any political cell was functioning in the Presidency in 1990 and not presently. Justice Khilji remarked that it seems from the secretary’s reply that a political cell existed in the presidency prior to Sept 2008. The court directed the secretary to submit new reply in this regard today (Thursday).

Akram Sheikh submitted  there was a political cell in the Presidency. He further stated his client believes that there should be no political cell in the Presidency. “The President is the symbol of federation and he should not indulge in politics,” Sheikh said.

The chief justice observed that Beg was aware of IJI funding and that the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan used to be briefed about the activities. He further said that under the constitution, the president is the head of state, not the chief of a political party, adding that the then president’s support for the IJI was a violation of his oath. He said that the head of state should not support any political group.

Later, the court adjourned the hearing till Thursday.