–Defence authorities inform SC a ‘court of inquiry’ has been convened to try former military officers involved in manipulating 1990 elections
–SC accepts FIA DG’s request to hold in-camera briefings in case involving several ex-army officials
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday decided to hold in-camera briefings in the case pertaining to the implementation of an apex court’s judgement in the Asghar Khan case, as the judges were informed that defence authorities have convened a ‘court of inquiry’ to initiate proceedings against military officers allegedly involved in distribution of funds to politicians to stop the Pakistan People’s Party from winning the 1990 general election.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar accepted Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General Bashir Memon’s request to hold in-camera briefings. In-camera briefing refers to parts of court cases during which the public and press are not allowed to observe the proceedings.
Approving the request, the chief justice remarked, “All facts should be brought before the nation, no institution is above the law.”
Ahead of the hearing, the Defence Ministry had submitted a report through Additional Attorney General of Pakistan Nayyar Rizvi which stated that a ‘court of inquiry’ has been formed by the defence authorities to probe alleged involvement of military officers in the distribution of funds to politicians during the 1990 general elections.
The report says that the competent authority has convened a court of inquiry in the instant matter. A lieutenant general has been appointed as president of the court, and embers of the court have also been appointed, it adds.
The accused officers include former army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg, former chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Gen Asad Durrani and some other officials including Brig Hameed Saeed Akhtar and Lt Gen (r) Rafat.
A senior lawyer, who was part of military legal branch, said the court of inquiry is a committee, which records evidences in any matter. The report says the military authorities have also communicated with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), which is probing the former servicemen.
“Assistance will be provided to them (FIA) as (and) when required,” it adds.
In an earlier hearing, the top court had directed the Defence Ministry to provide relevant information to the FIA related to five retired military officials including Saeed and former brigadiers, Amanullah Khan and Akbar Ali Khan.
During the hearing, the chief justice noted that no institution is above the law and the case pertains to higher institutions and senior politicians. He said formation of a court of inquiry means that trial of the accused military officers has started.
In the last hearing, the FIA report had revealed contradictions in the statements of former army chief Beg and Lt Gen Durrani regarding the 1990 elections.
The report says that Beg completely denied receiving instructions from the Presidency or the General Headquarters (GHQ) and claimed that Durrani was directly in touch with the Presidency.
On the other hand, Durrani admitted distributing money on instructions from the president’s election cell run by Jalal Haider Zaidi and Roedad Khan. He said the army high command was on board.
In his statement, Durrani said Lt Col Iqbal Saeed and Lt Col Salman Butt were responsible for disbursement of funds in Punjab while Brigadier Hamid Saeed Akhtar was responsible for Sindh.
Responding to handwritten notes provided by Akhtar, he remarked that as DG ISI, the funds must have been transmitted onwards to the Military Intelligence (MI) headquarters as the operation was being handled by the MI.
Since Saeed is currently in the United States, the FIA is waiting for the defence ministry to provide his and Butt’s whereabouts. When the agency reached out to Butt for an interview, the official “hung up the phone saying the FIA was knocking on the wrong number.”
The defence ministry has also been requested to share the whereabouts of Lt Col Mir Akhtar Khan.
According to the FIA report, Advocate Yousuf Memon claimed to have paid money to senior politician Javed Hashmi post-1990 polls. At least 12 politicians who were allegedly bribed have passed away.
The report quotes senior politician Abida Hussain’s November 28, 2012 interview in a talk show where she admitted receiving money. However, she denied the statement when contacted by the FIA.