- CJP says further investigation necessary to know who got how much money to pollute 1990 polls
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed review petitions filed by former army chief Gen (r) Mirza Aslam Beg and former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general (DG) Asad Durrani against the implementation of 2012 verdict in the Asghar Khan case.
In 2012, 16 years after the ex-air marshal Asghar Khan filed a human rights petition in the top court accusing the ISI of doling out money to a group of politicians in the 1990s, Supreme Court in its judgement — penned by ex-chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry — ruled that the 1990 general elections had been polluted by dishing out Rs140 million to a particular group of politicians only to deprive the people of being represented by their chosen representatives.
The federal government was ordered to take necessary legal action against retired Gen Aslam Beg and retired Lt Gen Asad Durrani for their role in ‘facilitating’ a group of politicians and political parties to ensure their success in the 1990 elections.
While hearing the review petitions on Monday, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, a part of the three-member bench, asked what action had been taken on the 2012 orders with the passage of six years. Representing the wife and son of late air marshal Asghar Khan, Counsel Salman Akram Raja recalled that the court had, in the 2012 verdict, declared that rigging did occur in the 1990 elections and subsequently ordered action against the then president, Ghulam Ishaq Khan.
He further said that the court had declared ‘illegal’ the role of Durrani and Beg, while Younus Habib of Mehran Bank had also been made a party.
‘FURTHER INVESTIGATION NECESSARY’:
The PPP’s rivals were given money before the 1990 polls, he told the court, at which Justice Nisar remarked, “[Further] investigations are necessary to ascertain who got how much of the money.”
“The court has already ordered investigations into the matter and action against those found responsible for the rigging,” Raja responded.
Raja continued that the officers had accepted their ‘role’ in the elections and the court had held that there is no room for the army’s interference in the elections process.
The chief justice summoned the attorney general to explain the progress made in the case since the 2012 verdict.
CJP Nisar, “We want to find out about the people in the government who did not allow the implementation of the order in the Asghar Khan case.”
DG Federal Investigation Agency Basheer Memon informed the court that statements of 18 people have already been taken, while 12 who were supposed to be probed have since passed away. Meanwhile, 190 clips of video evidence have also been acquired.
He said a sum of Rs140m had been funneled into six benami accounts, and a total of 15 accounts are under investigation.
He said that while those who have been alleged of giving the money have accepted their involvement, those who allegedly received it have not accepted that they received it.
The attorney general asked for two days to explain the government’s position on the matter, but the CJP gave him until tonight.
The court then dismissed the review petitions filed by Durrani and Beg. A hearing was called for tomorrow for the government to explain why the 2012 order had not been implemented so far.
On October 19, 2012, the apex court had issued a 141-page verdict, ordering legal proceedings against Gen (r) Beg and retired Lt Gen Durrani in a case filed 16 years ago by former air chief Air Marshal Asghar Khan.
Khan, who passed away in January this year, was represented in the Supreme Court by renowned lawyer Salman Akram Raja.
Khan had petitioned the Supreme Court in 1996 alleging that the two senior army officers and the then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan had doled out Rs140 million among several politicians ahead of the 1990 polls to ensure Benazir Bhutto’s defeat in the polls.
The Islamic Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), consisting of nine parties including the Pakistan Muslim League, National Peoples Party and Jamaat-e-Islami, had won the 1990 elections, with Nawaz Sharif being elected prime minister. The alliance had been formed to oppose the Benazir Bhutto-led Pakistan People’s Party.
In 1996, Khan had written a letter to the then Supreme Court chief justice Nasim Hassan Shah naming Beg, Durrani and Younis Habib, the ex-Habib Bank Sindh chief and owner of Mehran Bank, about the unlawful disbursement of public money and its misuse for political purposes.
The 2012 apex court judgment, authored by the then-chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry, had directed the Federal Investigation Agency to initiate a transparent investigation and subsequent trial if sufficient evidence is found against the former army officers.
That investigation is yet to conclude.
In May 2017, the PTI had said it would approach the Supreme Court over the FIA’s failure to follow through on the apex court’s order in the case.