ISLAMABAD - The Ministry of Defence on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that a Court of Inquiry had been convened to try military officers including former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General (r) Mirza Aslam Beg allegedly involved in disbursing millions of rupees to politicians to manage 1990s general election against Shaheed Benazir Bhutto.

A two-page compliance report submitted by the ministry further stated that a Lieutenant General had been appointed as president of Court of Inquiry.

It further stated that the other members of Court of Inquiry had also been appointed. The report further informed that the communication had been established with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

The request of FIA for provision of current whereabouts of five army officers, involved in distribution of money to buy loyalty of politicians to manage 1990 general election, was pending with Ministry of Defence (MoD) for long time.

However, according to the report, Pakistan Army has now assured that it would provide assistance to FIA whenever it required.

The Court of Inquiry, according to the report, was convened in compliance with the top court’s August 15 of 2018 order regarding necessary steps for implementation of top court’s judgment in the Asghar Khan Case.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan took up the matter of implementation on the Asghar Khan Case Judgment for hearing.

During the course of hearing, Additional Attorney General Syed Nayyar Rizvi appeared before the bench and submitted the report of MoD.

Director General FIA Bashir Memon also appeared and contended that some of the issues could not be stated in open court. Therefore, he requested, to head the progress of the case in chamber.

The top court accepted the plea of DG FIA. The bench, however, observed that no institution was above the law and the case pertained to higher institutions and senior politicians.  The chief justice further observed that constitution of court of inquiry meant that trial of the accused military officers had been started.

Earlier, the FIA in its three-page report had stated that Brig (R) Amanullah Khan was OC 304 Survey MI in 1990, Lt Col (R) Eqbal Saeed Khan was OC 408 Intel Battalian Rawalpindi in 1990, Lt Col (R) Ejaz was posted in Intel Set-up in 1990, Lt Col (R) Mir Akbar Ali Khan was at MI HQ Directorate at GHQ in 1990 and Lt Col (R) Salman Butt was posted in Intel Set-up in Rawalpindi/ Lahore in 1990.

The report had stated, “request by FIA to provide current whereabouts/contact information of 5 Army Intelligence Officers is pending.”

In response, the FIA had stated, secretary MoD had asked the FIA to furnish Army Number & Arms of these officers as it was not possible for them to identify these officers without this information.

FIA had further stated that this information was not available with FIA either and it had requested the MoD again to identify officers on the basis of record and provide their current whereabouts.

FIA stated that Lt Col Eqbal Saeed, CO-408 Intel Rawalpindi, was responsible for distribution of funds in Punjab as per the 2nd supplementary statement of ex-DG ISI Asad Durrani. “He is presently settled in the US. Whereabouts requested from Secretary Defence and response awaited.”

FIA further stated that Lt Col Salman Butt was also responsible for distribution of funds in Punjab as per the statement of ex DG ISI Durrani. FIA contacted Butt on his cell number because his address was not available. “When he was introduced that FIA wants to interview him, he hung up the phone by saying that ‘FIA is knocking at the wrong door’.”

According to the report of FIA, Lt Col Akbar Khan maintained record at Military Intelligence (MI) Headquarters as per findings. “Whereabouts requested from Secretary Defence and response awaited.”

Brig Amanullah Khan, 304 Survey Quetta, was responsible for distribution of funds in Balochistan. “Whereabouts requested from Secretary Defence and response awaited.”

“General Asad Durrani, DG MI/ISI, admitted having disbursed the money but said that it was under instructions from President’s Election Cell (Mr. Ijlal Haider Zaidi & Roedad Khan) and that Army High Command (COAS) was on board,” FIA had stated in its report.

“In the 3rd statement, while responding to the hand-written disbursement notes (copies) provided by Brig. Hamid Saeed Akhtar (Co-202 Survey Karachi), he (Durrani) remarked that as DG ISI he must have transmitted them onwards to MI HQ, GHQ as Operation was being handled by MI, of which he was the head prior to elections.”