1990 elections scandal: Habib says then army chief used him

Published: March 8, 2012
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Former chief of Mehran Bank Younis Habib allegedly helped distribute money among politicians during 1990 elections. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

Former chief of Mehran Bank Younis Habib allegedly helped distribute money among politicians during 1990 elections. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

ISLAMABAD: Despite “weak memories,” a lot of old ghosts resurfaced at the Supreme Court on Thursday – a day that also saw the central protagonist of the ‘Mehrangate affair’ admit the scandal, and apologise to the court.

While the court awaits the complete record of Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan’s petition, the key players of the scandal appeared before the court – and, for perhaps the first time since its reopening, a sense of urgency has engulfed the case of the 1990 election rigging saga.

Khan’s petition, first filed some 16 years ago, alleges that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) rigged the 1990 general elections by distributing millions of rupees among several politicians to damage Benazir Bhutto’s election campaign. The apex court recently reopened the case, which had been pending in the Sindh High Court since before the turn of the century – with a three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, now hearing the case.

Reviving the urgency

Thursday saw Younis Habib, a central protagonist of the scandal and the former chief of the Mehran Bank, appear before the bench on a wheelchair and submit a three-page statement, which he read out to the court.

After his revelations, Habib tendered an unconditional apology for his deeds, saying that he was used by former army chief Mirza Aslam Baig and former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan and subsequently jailed for four years.

He further revealed that, due to pressure from the “higher-ups”, he arranged for Rs1.48 billion out of which Rs140 million were distributed among political parties while the rest were invested in army welfare schemes and transferred to account numbers provided by ISI officials on the directives of Baig.

Habib revealed that Rs150 million was provided to Jam Sadiq for the establishment of the Mehran Bank.  He said all the embezzlements were named the “Mehrangate Scandal”, although the money was actually drawn from Habib Bank Limited.

To a query from the court, Habib said he could not recall the details of the distributed money. “I am sick now and my memory is weak,” Habib told the bench.

Assad Durrani’s account

Also playing the ‘weak memory card’, then ISI chief Gen Assad Durrani also said he could not recall whether he was cross-examined by the court earlier or not.

“The available record indicates that you were cross-examined by the court during an in-camera hearing 13 years ago,” the chief justice said.

However, Durrani told the court that ISI was not involved in this case and it was his individual doing. In reply, the chief Justice said: “It is not for you to decide. We will fix responsibility and decide this matter after hearing the entire case.”

While keeping in mind Durrani’s affidavit and a letter written to former prime minister Bhutto in this regard, the chief justice directed Durrani to appear in the court on Friday with full preparation.

The court also questioned Habib regarding Interior Minister Rehman Malik interrogating him as an FIA official back then. Habib told the media that a CD was in possession of Malik that could provide complete details of this episode.

A photograph was also included in Habib’s record wherein he was shown to be one of the persons along with then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan and officers of Pakistan Army with Mirza Aslam Baig, former chief of army staff.

The court directed the Ministry of Defence to file the requisite reports pertaining to the 1990 elections as well as up-to-date reports on the “workings of security and intelligence agencies”.

“In the interest of the nation, these documents shall be kept confidential,” the written order of the court read.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (43)

  • F D Boaz Chaudhry
    Mar 8, 2012 - 11:48AM

    Where are the NAB courts to bring all those politicians/ and other officials to justice for accepting bribes.

    Thanks

    Frederick

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  • pervaiz memon
    Mar 8, 2012 - 11:55AM

    I think we can not handle the truth this case may provoke our institute or persons . Be careful

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  • ARB
    Mar 8, 2012 - 12:01PM

    its sad how deeds of few tarnish image of such a great institution.

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  • vaqar
    Mar 8, 2012 - 12:13PM

    Editors.

    Your standards are getting from bad to worse by the day. Do you know the names of all the Presidents the country has had? The then President was “Ghulam Ishaq KHAN”. He certainly was not DAR, as reported. You are mixing President Ghulam Ishaq’s name with Senator Ishaq Dar!!!

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  • Mar 8, 2012 - 12:15PM

    kindly correct. ‘In his statements, Habib revealed that former Army chief Aslam Baig introduced him to then president Ghulam Ishaq Dar.’ ts Ghulam Ishaq Khan.

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  • Omair
    Mar 8, 2012 - 12:16PM

    What shame? I hope Baig is made an example;

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  • PK
    Mar 8, 2012 - 12:17PM

    Most of this amount must have gone to Nawaz Sharif (The so called anti establishment leader). What an irony… what a democracy.

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  • Mar 8, 2012 - 12:19PM

    Somehow, I approve off washing the dirty linen in public in this scenario.

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  • Omer
    Mar 8, 2012 - 12:27PM

    Wow… so the cat is out of the bag.

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  • Tabish Bilgrami
    Mar 8, 2012 - 12:34PM

    Ask him the names as well… Ask him to whom did he distribute all this amount……..Recommend

  • Civilian
    Mar 8, 2012 - 12:54PM

    Constitutionally the ISI and army chiefs involved should be indicted for treason though in reality we would see a repeat of 3rd November case and only civilians would be indicted while the military men would be let off the hook.

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  • WoW
    Mar 8, 2012 - 12:58PM

    This is a great eye opener on how GHQ has desecrated all the great institutions of Pakistan.

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  • Wonderful
    Mar 8, 2012 - 1:01PM

    @F D Boaz Chaudhry:
    So NAB is only for the bribe takers and not the bribe givers?

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  • Akhtar
    Mar 8, 2012 - 1:15PM

    This is a fact every One knows in the country. 10 years later, that in 2023, there will be another case, another admission, that PTI received millions;… The story repeats!Recommend

  • Taxpayer
    Mar 8, 2012 - 1:30PM

    My Money……………………………………

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  • rashid
    Mar 8, 2012 - 1:40PM

    only those with personal interests of getting into power, accepted the money…..
    as they say, if true, Altaf Hussain refused to take money so it was possible to say no to establishment, only talking about this specific case :D

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  • Ammar
    Mar 8, 2012 - 1:40PM

    When did Ghulam Ishaq Khan became Ghulam Ishaq DaR? :)

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  • Sajjad Ali
    Mar 8, 2012 - 2:03PM

    It will be in the broader national interest to disqualify and punish all those involved in this crime. Also it is important to recover the money from each individual with complete markup. It is the tax payers money spent by these corrupt people for political motives. It is a serous crime.

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  • Haris Chaudhry
    Mar 8, 2012 - 2:07PM

    ET – Pls check your facts before headlining news of national importance. It was President “Ghulam Ishaq Khan” aka GIC and not “Ghulam Ishaq Dar” as reported..!!

    Haris

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  • Blooper!
    Mar 8, 2012 - 2:09PM

    why express tribune refrained from printing names of the politicians?? SHAME!

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  • daredevil
    Mar 8, 2012 - 2:17PM

    There is some confusion in the news. When Younas Habib could not arrange 350 million rupees, how he came up with Rs1.48 billion rupees – almost four times more than the money asked for.

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  • Humayun
    Mar 8, 2012 - 2:53PM

    So that is why Gen. (R) Aslam Baig was offensive about submitting to the Supreme Court!!!

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  • Iqbal Muhammad
    Mar 8, 2012 - 3:15PM

    Aslam Baig never denied that he did not do of what he is accused of. So, where is the problem

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  • WB
    Mar 8, 2012 - 3:39PM

    Well what the so called righteous politicians, NS & Marvi, have so say about this?? Probably not muchRecommend

  • pervaiz memon
    Mar 8, 2012 - 4:05PM

    If supreme court act on merits ( fact we read till now ) . It’s means next election is PTI vs PPP or just walk over to PTI .

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  • A S
    Mar 8, 2012 - 5:10PM

    Well there is nothing new in this. Is it?
    When people, educated people and people at large, leave their wealth and destiny to be decided by any Mafia then such things are bound to happen. Why? There is no one to stop the theives and robbers from doing what they are doing. So the responsibility is that of the educated to come forward and bring with them the masses to organise in such a way that no one will ever dare to steal a single Paisah of peoples’ hard earned wealth.
    Will the people, more so the educated wake up from their Opium induced slumber and start organising themselves. Organise to bring the masses to join hands with them to organise a Peoples’ Union or a true Party of the people, in control of the people, guided by the collective leadership of the educated and intellectuals?
    Will people be prepared to listen and respond to the urgent and pressing call of the hour?
    Do people want to see the same game being played again and again after every so-called elections?
    Do the people not see that there is a big flaw in the system they follow? Do they not realise that all the talk of “Freedom and Democracy” comes out of the mouth of the biggest criminals of our time?

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  • Much Amused
    Mar 8, 2012 - 5:18PM

    No body can touch lawyers movement king NS as they are indebted.

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  • Pakistani
    Mar 8, 2012 - 5:37PM

    All our politicians are dishonest, corrupt and and lawless, but I wonder behind each problem of Pakistan how comes the name of Bravo Pak Army and ISI.

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  • Khawlah
    Mar 8, 2012 - 5:45PM

    I think SC will ban the Pakistan Peoples Party from election and will not do anything against Muslim Leages and other parties. It will also do nothing to Nawaz Shareef, chaudhries, Javed Hasmi, Altaf bhai etc etc………..SC is bravo only on PPPRecommend

  • gul
    Mar 8, 2012 - 6:00PM

    When the SC would formally charge the culprits including Mirza Aslam Baig ? Its been over 17 years by now. PM Gillani has been charged, Babar Awan has also been charged, Waheeda Shah already convicted. Why such delay in this case.

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  • John B
    Mar 8, 2012 - 6:01PM

    Who gave the money, who benifitted in political side, what did the financiers get in return, and how did the bank keep the accounting of the money

    Bankers can raise money form financiers but the bank has to pay them back with interest at some point. Rs 400 million given to the politicians by the bank is a non repayable amount. So, what did the politicians promise in return to the bank, and in return what did the bank promise to the initial financiers.

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  • sohaib
    Mar 8, 2012 - 7:14PM

    Kudos to Supreme Court for bringing the Army to the dock. Nawaz Sharif is in danger of being whacked not just by Imran Khan but the judgement that comes from this case. He was the biggest beneficiary from this generosity of ISI. Oh but I keep forgetting that army does every thing in ‘national interest’. This sacred temple of ‘nation interest’ is not seen by common Pakistanis like me. Look back to the 63 years of our existence and you will see the army generals wreaking the most havoc to this country. Time we own our country and take it back Recommend

  • smj
    Mar 8, 2012 - 8:00PM

    @John B: Bank’s President was kidnapped by FIA and demanded the money. It’s a kidnapping case. He had no other choice but to save his neck. Politicians were given task to unite against PPP. That was single point agenda against Bhutto.

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  • rehman
    Mar 8, 2012 - 9:12PM

    will general baig going to return Tamga-e-jhamoriat? I’m more worried about the medal

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  • Mehran
    Mar 8, 2012 - 10:25PM

    Establishment tried to stop PPP by bribing political parties and pressure groups. Establishment created cronies and false parties to stop PPP from winning elections. This is not only against the law of land but it is clear betrayal. Why media and moral preachers silent??All those involved in such heinous crime MUST be held accountable. Shame on such figures who hijacked election and made Pakistan a weak democracy. Anti-PPP forces are EXPOSED now. Shame!

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  • javed sahibzada
    Mar 9, 2012 - 12:46AM

    we as a nation recite everyday that corrupt leaders are looting, our action does not go beyond “looting”

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    Mar 9, 2012 - 12:59AM

    @Blooper!:

    I agree; every time this issue comes up we wish to be reminded of the crooks and luminarties who took money so ET please REPEAT those names and keep repeating them. put it in an end-note if you have to!

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    Mar 9, 2012 - 1:04AM

    I hope the SC will also ask these persons, including the good general, if they paid income tax on this “income”. It would be a good way of getting them for tax evasion which is a crime and punishable by jail.

    it is irrelevant that they passed this on; in which case they would have to provide receipts and those who got this money should also be charged with tax evasion. But they have to pay tax on this “windfall income”.

    Additionally, the tax evaded should be compounded for all the years that tax was not paid via penalties imposed and they should be sent a notice which should be published on the inter-net and compliance monitored.

    Will we do this or let this opportunity slip through our hands?

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  • Mirza
    Mar 9, 2012 - 2:56AM

    An imp fact is missing from this report. Y. Habib also told the court that he was pressured to initiate cases against Zardari. Can we look at the political victimization of secular parties by the military dictatorship? No wonder not a single case has been decided in any Pakistani court for a quarter of a century!

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  • John B
    Mar 9, 2012 - 3:11AM

    @smj:
    Kidnapped, yes. Pressured to give money, yes. Agenda against PPP, yes.

    But where did the bank president get that much sum of money, and who actually gave him that money.

    No one will give that much sum of money to bank president without something promised in return for them, by the ultimate beneficiary of the political outcome.

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  • my money too
    Mar 9, 2012 - 6:10AM

    @Taxpayer:
    Dear Mr. Taxpayer where % your money goes ….???
    Did you ever asked for…..?????

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  • F D Boaz Chaudhry
    Mar 9, 2012 - 8:59AM

    @javed sahibzada:

    Every Pakistani needs to see his own face in the mirror.

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  • F D Boaz Chaudhry
    Mar 9, 2012 - 9:13AM

    @Civilian:

    Judges are the only hope to bring all to justice.No matter who is stronger and weaker, no one should be put off the hook. (this includes from bottom to top).

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