Asghar Khan case: Cabinet fails to implement SC directives

Refers matter of placing names of accused on ECL to subcommittee


Sardar Sikander June 01, 2018
Air Marshal (R) Asghar Khan. PHOTO: FILE PHOTO

ISLAMABAD: The outgoing federal cabinet in its last huddle failed to devise any policy to proceed against army officers accused in the Asghar Khan case.

The Supreme Court had observed that the federal government was vested with the ultimate power to initiate treason cases under Article 6 of the Constitution against the former army chief, retired Gen Mirza Aslam Beg, and former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general Asad Durrani, for their role in the Mehrangate scandal.

They were accused of doling out Rs140 million to various politicians, including deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, to hamper the chances of PPP’s victory in the 1990 general elections.

Asghar Khan case: CJP expresses displeasure over govt’s failure to call cabinet meeting

The cabinet, which met for the last time during the final day of the federal government’s term under the chair of outgoing Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, referred the matter to a related subcommittee to decide whether or not to put the names of the accused in the Asghar Khan case on the ECL.

The huddle, although, approved the 19-point ‘packed’ agenda --that included increasing the perks and privileges for the National Assembly speaker and Senate chairman -- the cabinet skipped devising a concrete roadmap to proceed against the army generals.

“The top court also directed constituting a special court to try former dictator Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf but the cabinet skipped the matter,” officials said.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday expressed displeasure over the cabinet’s failure to carve out a plan to proceed in the Asghar Khan case.

The chief justice had ordered the government to convene the cabinet meeting on Thursday to take up the matter.

“Call for a cabinet meeting today [Thursday] evening and take a decision today… Inform us of the cabinet’s decision today no matter what,” he ordered the government’s counsel during the proceedings of the related case at the Supreme Court Lahore Registry.

Sources said the matter was discussed in detail in the cabinet meeting that continued for over five hours.

Reportedly, Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf tried to convince Prime Minister Abbasi to order the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to initiate action in the Asghar Khan case.

However, the premier was of the view that the matter did not fall under the cabinet’s purview.

After further deliberations, it was decided to refer the issue to a related panel the cabinet had set up to deal with the cases involving the Exit Control List (ECL) to decide whether or not to put the names of the accused in the Asghar Khan case on the list.

The cabinet also skipped reviewing the composition of a special court to try Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf for treason.

Aslam Beg’s review plea in Asghar Khan case rejected

In addition, the cabinet officially backtracked from the decision taken by Abbasi recently to grant honorarium equivalent to three months basic pay for “all the federal government employees”, saying such a decision was not implementable.

Sources said the cabinet approved the grant of honorarium only to employees of the Federal Board of Revenue, the Planning Commission, the Ministry of Finance, and related departments involved in budget preparation.

Recently, the outgoing federal cabinet took certain decisions that raised eyebrows -- including 100 per cent increase in the salary of the president by fixing the basic pay at Rs846,550, increasing the salary of the prime minister, and increasing perks and privileges for the NA speaker and Senate chairman.

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