–Agency informs court probe has hit a dead end
–SC forms three-member bench, summons FIA DG, AGP on Monday
ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Saturday sought the Supreme Court’s help in collecting evidence in a case pertaining to manipulating of general elections in 1990 and implementation of the SC’s 2012 verdict in the case, as the apex court formed a new bench to pursue the case.
The previous bench hearing the case stood dissolved after the retirement of former chief justice Saqib Nisar. The new bench will be headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprises Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.
It will take up the case on Monday and has issued notices to the attorney general, FIA DG and other respondents in the case.
In a compliance report submitted to the court on Saturday, the FIA apprised the court that it had tried to “unearth the facts and bring truth to light, but the investigation has reached a dead end”.
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, while reacting to the decision by the apex court, took to twitter and said that it was a good sign.
He announced that Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to implement the Supreme Court’s orders in the case.
On Dec 31, the FIA urged the top court to close the case filed by Air Marshal (r) Asghar Khan, claiming that the agency did not have enough evidence for a criminal investigation into the case.
In its report submitted to the court, the FIA had said that the witnesses’ statements do not corroborate with each other and many politicians refused to record their written statements. It had also said that politicians who were accused of taking money also refuted the allegations.
However, the heirs of the late retired air chief had strongly objected the suggestion of the FIA. In the latest development, Khan’s wife Amina Asghar Khan, his daughters Nasreen Ahmed Khattak and Sheereen Awan, and son Ali opposed the FIA’s suggestion and highlighted what they perceived to be halfhearted efforts of the authorities.
“The late air marshal, Asghar Khan endeavored to cleanse the democratic process from unlawful interference by any person, military or civilian, no matter highly placed. This endeavor has not yet achieved fruition and a just end. Consequently, the family of late air marshal Asghar Khan seeks to continue his endeavor and opposes the closure of the inquiry sought by the FIA,” said the written reply.
The family also sought conclusion of the trial against the military personnel involved and the placement of the result of the trial before the people of Pakistan.
On October 19, 2012, the apex court had issued a 141-page verdict, ordering legal proceedings against former Pakistan Army chief General (r) Mirza Aslam Beg and former director general of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt Gen (r) Asad Durrani in a case filed 16 years ago by Air Marshal Asghar Khan.
Khan, who passed away in January this year, was represented in the SC by Advocate Salman Akram Raja.
Khan had moved the SC in 1996 alleging that the two senior army officers and then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan had doled out Rs140m among several politicians ahead of the 1990 polls to ensure Benazir Bhutto’s defeat in the polls.
The Islamic Jamhoori Ittihad (IJI), consisting of nine parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League, National People’s 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 SC 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 FIA had launched its investigation into the case at the end of 2013, almost a year after the SC ordered an investigation into the distribution of Rs140m to thwart the PPP.
On August 11 of this year, the SC asked the FIA to submit a progress report in the case. It had issued notices to the respondents, including former premier Nawaz Sharif.
On June 9, Nawaz and JI head Sirajul Haq submitted their written replies in the case. Rejecting the allegations that his party received Rs3.5m from the ISI in 1990, Nawaz said he did not receive any money from the agency to run the election campaign.