But, of course
The Mehrangate scandal reveals what crimes can be committed in the name of “supreme national interest.” A president and a COAS had decided to get one set of politicians elected because they were considered reliable by them. Violating the oath of office, both forced the chief of a nationalised bank to arrange a sum of Rs 340 million by “hook or by crook”. They assigned the task of the distribution of money to important functionaries of the security agencies. Instead of rejecting the illegal orders, the officers willingly executed them.
It is hard to believe that two most powerful persons who were bent upon defeating the PPP-led alliance in the 1990 polls would not have employed other equally condemnable means to achieve the aim. How much out of an amount of approximately Rs 1.40 billion, which was to be channelled through Gen (rtd) Aslam Beg himself, actually reached the politician is anybody’s guess. Interestingly the politicians and the two right-wing journalists who supposedly received the money claimed to be outstanding supporters of religious values and morality. One of the former bureaucrats connected with the scam likes to presents himself as a fighter against corruption in government circles.
The revelations connected with the Mehrangate scandal indicate that the ISI alone was not involved in the distribution of money among politicians. A senior ex-army officer who oversaw the deliveries to Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi and Pir Pagara and was there when the money was offered to Altaf Hussain has identified the carrier as an MI Brigadier mentioned also by Younis Habib. This brings into question the much touted claims of the military possessing an outstanding system of vigilance and accountability. This also strengthens the demand to rein in the agencies through a parliamentary charter defining precisely their scope and limitations. The scandal once again underlines the need for civilian oversight over the agencies as a cross check against excesses and shortcomings
It remains to be seen what action the SC takes in the case. Air Marshal (Retd) Asghar Khan wants only a symbolic judgement and no punishment for those involved whether military personnel or politicians. Would the Air Marshal also recommend symbolic judgments in the cases against government leaders currently being heard by the apex court?