Asghar Khan’s petition

Published: January 26, 2012

On February 29, the Supreme Court will hear the petition, whose contents have been printed, and reprinted, in the country’s newspapers over the years. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Even when its judgments have been legally sound, a common complaint heard against the present Supreme Court is that it seems to have concentrated its ire on the democratically-elected government, while sparing the far more powerful military. As much truth as there may have been in this claim, one hopes that this perception will be corrected, now that the honourable Court has set a date to hear a petition filed by Asghar Khan, some 15 years ago against the ISI’s alleged meddling in politics. On February 29, the Supreme Court will hear the petition, whose contents have been printed, and reprinted, in the country’s newspapers over the years. The allegation against the intelligence agency is that it used a slush fund to pay various amounts of taxpayers money to politicians to cobble together an alliance by the name of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad. The petition alleges that this was done in 1990, in an attempt to deny the PPP victory in general elections that year. Among those accused are a former army chief and a former chief of the ISI.

What makes this case even more interesting is that it will raise questions about the role of the current opposition party, the PML-N, and how it has, at least in its past, benefitted from military largesse. Nawaz Sharif’s party is one of the main backers, of late, of the apex court’s trend towards judicial activism and may find itself in the dock this time, during the hearing of Asghar Khan’s petition. Especially in an election year, this petition could politically be very damaging for the PML-N.

It is because of that potential for damage that Leader of the Opposition, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has asked that the Supreme Court expand the scope of the petition and investigate all of the ISI’s payments to politicians, not just those made in 1990. Although he has suggested this for all the wrong reasons, the Supreme Court would be wise to take his advice because a hearing on this matter could focus some much-needed attention on how the establishment interferes in the country’s politics, which is something that is quite clearly not part of its constitutional responsibility. And by doing that, it could perhaps act as a deterrent for future meddling.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2012. 

Reader Comments (5)

  • Mirza
    Jan 26, 2012 - 3:29AM

    The ISI has plundered national resources to deny PPP a fair election victory in the past. They are still doing it to undermine the elected govt. Nothing has changed. Looks like the PCO SC would have the next date for hearing again on Feb 29th or after four years. While the “manufactured” cases against the govt are moving at record speed.

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    Jan 26, 2012 - 6:53AM

    excellent.

    I don’t think the court’s “bias” will be erased by this hearing which could take years to unfold. Will the Air Marshall even be alive then?

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  • amlendu
    Jan 26, 2012 - 4:18PM

    @Meekal Ahmed:
    Welcome back sir, I missed your pertinent comments on many a topics in last few days.

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  • Hamood
    Jan 26, 2012 - 9:25PM

    @Mirza, your elected PPP government is doing such a great job. Zardari has amassed $3 billion dollars in assets all over the world (the son of Bambino cinema owner of Karachi). Nawaz is not far behind with $2.5 billion dollars. And yet none of them are on Forbes list. Not a huge fan of ISI myself but let me tell you these politicians would sell their souls and even those of their loved ones to make a profit.

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  • Shahid Sheikh
    Feb 4, 2012 - 11:41AM

    I think people of Pakistan believes Supreme Court is bias with them, as they support him for change in Justice System and not to take Political Cases on priority basis.

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