ISLAMABAD - Terming the SC verdict vindication of Pakistan People’s Party stance, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf advised all those involved in robbing the nation of its mandate in 1990 elections to seek apology from the nation.

Addressing a press conference at Prime Minister House Friday night, the PM assured the nation that law would take its course and all those found guilty in the Asghar Khan case would be penalised in the light of the Supreme Court verdict.

Responding to a volley of media persons’ questions, Raja pledged to ensure transparency in the FIA inquiry and bring truth before the nation. He said they wanted to stand clean and upright in the history and SC’s verdict has proved them correct. He termed the verdict victory of the people of Pakistan and democracy.

Raja recalled that Benazir Bhutto used to say that establishment has stolen the elections and deprived them of coming into power. “They have run amuck and stolen the elections,” he quoted Benezir as commenting on the affair.

“Today, the PPP stands vindicated as the history has proved them correct and they have been given a certificate of truthfulness,” the PM said, adding that they have been the victim of such tactics on part of hidden forces in the past and whenever free, fair and transparent elections were held, people voted them to power.

He regretted that certain elements had manipulated the elections and deprived the people to have rulers of their choice. Terming the rigging episode stigma on the face of democracy, he vowed that they would bring all those involved in this ugly game to book and the culprits would be given exemplary punishment. They would also ensure that every penny of the 170 million rupees taken from the national kitty are retrieved from the culprits, he added.

To a question about the action against the then Chief of Army Staff Gen (r) Mirza Aslam Beg and former ISI chief Lt-Gen (r) Asad Durrani, the prime minister said that they would be treated as per law and constitution and assured the nation that he would make sure that FIA would even-handedly deal with the case and bring facts before the nation at the earliest.

To a question about taking back a medal from Gen Beg, he said that the medal was not given to an individual but to an institution, adding that the SC short order clearly mentions that these people had done all this in their personal capacity. When asked about his meeting with the Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani in the evening and his reflection on the whole matter, Raja said they met to discuss some other matter and this issue did not figure in the meeting.

The PM said that he wanted to assure the nation that PPP-led coalition government wanted to hold elections in free, fair and transparent fashion and that was the reason they had appointed such person as Chief Election Commissioner who enjoyed the trust of all the stakeholders.