Newsmakers 2018: Asghar Khan – Influential even in death | Pakistan Today

Newsmakers 2018: Asghar Khan – Influential even in death

Pakistan’s first native Air Force Commander in Chief, Air Marshal Asghar Khan’s relevance did not wane in his lifetime, so how could it have waned after his passing?

Even in 2018, Asghar Khan remained a looming figure in the national discourse, especially in the aftermath of of former Premier Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification.

After all, his 1996 petition in court against electoral fraud committed by the Armed Forces and the intelligence agencies in the 1990 and 1993 election had struck the jugular vein of Pakistani politics: corruption.

The significance of the Asghar Khan case is perhaps larger than that of the Panama case. Rather than being a probe into a single family, the former Air Chief’s petition was linked to a deliberate attempt to derail the democratic system in order to get ‘positive’ results in 1990 elections.

This goal for ‘positive’ results managed to make a much larger point than the Panama Papers case ever could. This case was not about technicalities, or personal dishonesty. In Asghar Khan’s own words, he wished to achieve two things from his petition: the first was to see politics clean from corruption, the latter was to bring on record the presence of a political cell in the ISI.

Even after his death, the petition he filed continues to haunt us. Despite the decision in his favour, the FIA has advised the closing of the case for lack of evidence. One can make of that what they will. But Asghar Khan’s impact on Pakistan continues, and to the last day of 2018, months after his passing, his influence remains tangible.

Abdullah Niazi

Abdullah Niazi is a member of staff currently studying Literature at LUMS. He also writes and edits for The Dependent.