Aslam Beg’s review plea in Asghar Khan case rejected

Published: May 7, 2018
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Air Marshal (R) Asghar Khan. PHOTO: FILE PHOTO

Air Marshal (R) Asghar Khan. PHOTO: FILE PHOTO

ISLAMABAD: Rejecting a review petition filed by former army chief Gen Mirza Aslam Beg and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) former chief Gen Asad Durrani against its 2012 verdict in Asghar Khan case, the apex court has sought reply from the federal government regarding implementation of its 2012 verdict, which may also have implications for deposed premier Nawaz Sharif.

On October 19, 2012, a Supreme Court bench headed by former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Chaudhry directed the executive to take action against Beg and Durrani for distributing millions of rupees among politicians against the Pakistan People Party (PPP) ahead of the 1990 general elections.

The SC had also asked the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to probe into the matter against the politicians, including Nawaz Sharif, who had allegedly received donations to spend on election campaigns in the general election of 1990.

It had directed the FIA to launch proceedings against politicians for effecting recovery of sums received by them with profit. Baig and Durrani had later filed a review petition against the verdict. However, on Monday a three-judge SC bench, headed by the CJP Mian Saqib Nisar rejected the review petition.

Earlier, Shah Khawar appeared on behalf of Durrani but Beg himself argued the matter.  Both the former military men denied the court’s findings against them.

State funeral for former air chief Asghar Khan held at Nur Khan Airbase

However, the bench dismissed both the review petitions, observing that no case was made out. The court also remarked that both retired officers would face the consequences of their illegal acts.   “Can we send their cases for court martial?” asked Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, another member of the bench.

Later, the CJP questioned how this verdict would now be executed.  During the hearing, the bench summoned the FIA director general (DG) Bashir Memon, who shared progress regarding the probe.

The DG said statements of 18 persons had been recorded while 12 accused had died, adding that 140 million had been transferred to six different benami accounts.  However, the DG said the investigation is halted due to pendency of Baig and Durrani’s review petitions.

He said all politicians are denying the facts of receiving the money as there should be evidence how money was paid and to whom. The bench asked the FIA official to tell the court regarding implementation of the order as their review petitions have been dismissed.

The court also noted that it expects that the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) would also get instruction from the government regarding compliance of ruling. The hearing of case is adjourned till Tuesday [today]. Salman Akram Raja is appearing on behalf of the petitioner, the late Asghar Khan.

Background

On June 16, 1996, Asghar Khan wrote to former CJP Sajjad Ali Shah a letter, which contained names of politicians who had allegedly received money from the ISI ahead of the 1990 polls. The fund was provided by Younas Habib, chief executive officer of the Habib Bank Limited (HBL), then a government bank.

According to the letter, Nawaz Sharif had allegedly received Rs3.5 million; Mir Afzal Khan, Rs10 million; Lt General Rafaqat, Rs5.6 million [for distributing among journalists]; Abida Hussain, Rs1 million; Jamaat-e-Islami, Rs5 million and senior journalist Altaf Hussain Qureshi, Rs500,000.

In Sindh, Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi received Rs5 million; Jam Sadiq got Rs5 million; Muhammad Khan Junejo Rs250,000; Pir Pagara, Rs2 million; Maulana Salahuddin, Rs300,000 and other small groups in Sindh got Rs5.4 million. In Balochistan, Humayun Marri received Rs1.5 million. The letter also contained the names of Bizenjo and Kakar tribes.

Govt faces uphill battle in Asghar Khan case

The SC in its verdict had said former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan, army chief Beg, and the ISI chief Durrani, acted in violation of the Constitution by facilitating a group of politicians and political parties, to ensure their success against rival candidates in the general election of 1990.

The court noted that the president being head of the state in the parliamentary system of government represents unity of the republic under Article 41 of the Constitution. And according to oath of his office, he will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.

The 7-page short order, authored by former CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry, said: “Any Election Cell/Political Cell in Presidency or ISI or MI [Military Intelligence] or within their formations shall be abolished immediately and any letter/notification to the extent of creating any such Cell/Department (by any name whatsoever, explained herein, shall stand cancelled forthwith.”

The court also held that the involvement of the officers or members of secret agencies in unlawful activities, individually or collectively called 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.

“The citizens of Pakistan as a matter of right are free to elect their representatives in an election process being conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with the law,” it had said.

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