ISLAMABAD - After the gap of 15 years, Supreme Court will hear a petition marinating that ISI had dished out millions of rupees to different politicians during President Ghulam Ishaq Khan’s regime to manoeuvre the 1990 elections.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, would hear Asghar Khan’s petition on February 29 (Wednesday).

All the political parties and senior lawyers have welcomed the SC decision to take up the Asghar Khan case. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in a statement last month demanded the court should not overlook the agency’s political meddling in the present, as well as during former president Pervez Musharraf’s regime. But his part’s chief Nawaz Sharif is also involved in the case of manoeuvring 1990 election against the PPP.

This time Salman Akram Raja, instead of Abid Hassan Manto, would appear on behalf of the petitioner. He said that he would argue the whole case as the court is hearing the case after so many years.

Akram Sheikh, who appeared on behalf of former Chief of Army Staff General (r) Aslam Baig in the case, has now refused to represent the former COAS. Sheikh represented Baig in the Supreme Court when the case was heard earlier in 1999. Sheikh said “I don’t wish to represent intelligence agencies directly or indirectly”, adding he don’t want to wash their dirty linen anymore.

Air Marshal (r) Asghar Khan, in 1996 - following a statement of former interior minister Naseerullah Babar in the parliament that Rs140 million had been distributed in 1990 with the help of ISI among the political opponents of Pakistan People’s Party - wrote a letter to then chief justice Nasim Hasan Shah seeking action against former army chief Mirza Aslam Baig, former ISI chief Lt-General (r) Asad Durrani and Younis Habib of Habib and Mehran banks over the alleged disbursement of public money and its misuse for political purposes.

He blamed the ISI for distributing money among various politicians. The allegation against the intelligence agency is that it used a slush fund to pay various amounts of taxpayers’ money to politicians to cobble together an alliance by the name of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad. The petition alleges that this was done in 1990, in an attempt to deny the PPP victory in general elections that year.

According to General (r) Aslam Baig’s reply submitted in the Supreme Court, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan had set up an election cell in the presidency under the supervision of Roidad Khan and Ajlal Haider during 1990 general elections.

ISI on the instructions of that election cell gave away Rs140 million to the opponents of PPP. It is a usual thing for ISI to extend help to their favourite politicians in elections and its approval is granted by the chief executive of the government, he had stated.

Lt-Gen Asad Durrani, the former director general of ISI, submitted an affidavit in court and gave details of the amount he had authorised to be paid to politicians. According to the affidavit the money was distributed among politicians on the directive of General (r) Aslam Baig (Chief of Army Staff at the time).

The name of the politicians and the amounts they received were as follows: Nawaz Sharif got Rs3.5 million; Mir Afzal Khan Rs10 million; Lt-Gen Rafaqat got Rs5.6 million for distribution among journalists; Abida Hussain Rs1 million; Jamat-e-Islami Rs5 million; Altaf Hussain Qureshi Rs500,000; Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi Rs5 million (Sindh); Jam Sadiq Rs5 million (Sindh); Muhammad Khan Junejo Rs250,000 (Sindh); Pir Pagara Rs2 million (Sindh); Maulana Salahuddin Rs300,000 (Sindh); different small groups in Sindh Rs5.4 million and; Humayun Marri Rs1.5 million (Balochistan).