Searching for answers, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered the ministry of defence to produce a copy of the notification under which the political cell of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was formed.
A three-member bench presided by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry heard the case pertaining to a decade-old petition filed by Air Marshal (retired) Asghar Khan. His petition alleges the distribution of funds by former chief of army staff, Mirza Aslam Beg and ex-ISI chief Asad Durrani, to politicians during the 1990 elections in order to keep the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) from coming into power.
Attorney General Irfan Qadir told the court that the ISI political cell notification could not be found.
“If no notification was given, then how is the cell operating?” asked Justice Jawwad S Khawaja.
Commander Shahbaz appeared before the court on behalf of the defence ministry and told the court that the cabinet division had issued the notification. The court then asked him to speak with the DG ISI and inform him that the court required the notification.
“The task is complicated but not difficult,” Justice Chaudhry said.
Irfan Qadir informed the court that a reply from the law ministry regarding the Habib Bank and Mehran bank commission reports had been received.
The court directed Secretary Law, Yasmin Abbasi, to find all documents regarding the Habib Bank scandal submitted by Justice (retd) Chaudhry Muhammad Ilyas, who was heading the commission. That commission could not complete its work because an incumbent judge of the Supreme Court, Saqib Nisar, did not give an extension to the commission at the time. The work also remained incomplete due to questions regarding the authenticity of the commission report presented by journalist Hamid Mir.
The bench asked former ISI chief Lt Gen (retd) Asad Durrani to present evidence and affidavits in favour of his stance, adding that it seemed that his list of recipients was not accurate. Durrani told the court that he had prepared this list based on memory and it might not be one hundred per cent accurate. He added that retired ISI officials would be able to give a breakdown along with affidavits.
The court has given Durrani two weeks to collect the evidence. Durrani, however, said he wasn’t sure whether he would be able to accomplish the task in the allotted time.
Durrani informed the apex court that Rs60 million out of Rs140 million was distributed among politicians. He added that the initial orders for distribution were given by then army chief General Aslam Beg.
He said that Ajlal Haider Zaidi was head of a special cell created in the President House to monitor the operation.
Durrani also handed over to the court a sealed envelope containing proof of recipients of the money. Chief Justice Chaudhry remarked that the list provided significant information about the case but said that they “want to bring everything out in the open.”
The chief justice also told Durrani that if he produced evidence before the bench, then the court would issue notices to those who took money.
General Beg appeared before the court; however his lawyer, Akram Sheikh, was not present for medical reasons.
The case was adjourned until the third week of July.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2012.
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