Infamous Asghar Khas case

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At a crucial time when the whole nation in Pakistan is going through election process, the infamous case of grafting the politicians and political parties in 1990 elections is under discussion at every level. Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Tuesday gave the federal government one week to summon a cabinet meeting to determine what action to take in light of the 2012 Asghar Khan case verdict, which may also have implications for deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Declining Attorney-General Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf’s request seeking two weeks for the government to outline a procedure, the apex court noted that the ruling setup’s tenure was ending in three weeks, therefore, a special meeting of the cabinet can be summoned to decide on the matter. As the hearing went underway, Chief Justice Nisar remarked that the court has given its order in the case and rejected review petitions of former army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg and former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) DG Lt Gen Asad Durrani, accused of illegally influencing the 1990 elections. The chief justice asserted that now the implementation of the verdict remains.
According to CJP’s observations it is the government’s job to determine in which court former army officers are to be tried. He remarked that the federal government had decided to initiate a treason trial against former president and army chief General Pervez Musharraf. It is learnt that the FIA has decided to summon former generals in the case to present evidence of providing money to politicians for the 1990 elections. Sources claimed the FIA is also expected to make a new committee to probe the case in light of the apex court’s orders. On October 19, 2012, the apex court had issued a 141-page verdict, ordering legal proceedings against Gen (r) Beg and Lt Gen (r) Durrani in a case filed 16 years ago by former air chief Air Marshal Asghar Khan.
Asghar Khan had petitioned the SC 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 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 CJP 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.
In the case of the 1996 petition filed by the late Air Marshal Asghar Khan, there appears a general amnesia on the part of all concerned regarding its prosecution and denouement. Six years have elapsed since the 2012 Supreme Court decision that organised rigging occurred to preempt election of Benazir Bhutto, sleaze funds of Rs140 million were distributed among prominent politicians, and ordering the federal government to take legal action against former President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, self-confessed fund disseminator ISI head Lt Gen (ret) Asad Durrani, retired crmy chief Mirza Aslam Beg, and the financial patron, Younus Habib of Mehran Bank. The judicial torch has since been passed to a new generation operating in the fast lane, so that when review petitions filed by the two retired generals against the 2012 Supreme Court decision came up for hearing on Monday, they were not only promptly dismissed, but responsibility for six-year delay in its implementation also came under keen court scrutiny.
The SC judgment delivered in 2012 clearly maintained that the ISI, MI or any other agency like IB have no role to play in the political affairs of the country or interfere in the holding of honest, free and fair elections by Election Commission of Pakistan. Further that “Involvement of the officers/members of secret agencies i.e. ISI, MI, IB, etc, in unlawful activities, individually or collectively calls for strict action being, violative of oath of their offices, and if involved, they are liable to be dealt with under the Constitution and the Law.”
There are two categories in this case. First, there are the two former generals who according to the 2012 SC judgment “had acted in violation of the constitution” and “their act had brought bad name to Pakistan and its armed forces”. They should be sentenced accordingly.
Meanwhile inquiries should be conducted against the people in the government who did not allow the implementation of the order in the Asghar Khan case and action taken against them and the recipients of funds from the agencies according to law.