Former intelligence chief Asad Durrani said funds for rigging the 1990 elections were distributed to political parties at the behest of the then army chief General (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg, with tacit approval, if not outright support, of the then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan.
Durrani’s allegations come a day after the central protagonist in the case, Mehran Bank’s former chief Younis Habib, blamed Beg for the rigging scandal.
Meanwhile, the petitioner, Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan, suggested the court commence treason proceedings against Beg and his accomplices for subverting the Constitution. As government officials, all respondents violated their respective oaths while rigging the 1990 general elections, Khan submitted in a written application to the three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Therefore, appropriate proceedings under criminal and election laws are merited, Khan said.
The chief justice, however, said that “at this stage, all are innocent before us because there were contradictions in the stances of the respondents.”
‘Air of superiority’
Earlier, the court took exception to Beg’s ‘contemptuous’ statement submitted in response to the affidavit submitted by Younis Habib on Thursday.
Justice Khilji Arif Hussain ‘reminded’ the bench that five years ago, on March 9, 2007, “we also fought against [Pervez Musharraf] for sanctity of the courts.”
“Your air of superiority remains unchanged, along with your mantra of ‘bloody civilians’,” remarked Justice Khilji Arif Hussain.
Furthermore, Beg had ‘thanked’ the court for completing his ‘hat-trick’ of appearances before the Supreme Court in this case.
“Jaane kis jurm ki payee hay saza, yaad naheen (What crime am I being punished for, I don’t remember)” Beg wrote in his statement.
The chief justice was not amused.
“Mind your business. You are not here for a round of golf,” the chief justice said.
The ‘contemptuous’ content was deleted from his statement after Beg submitted a written apology to the court.
Durrani blames Beg, president
Former director-general Inter-Services Intelligence Asad Durrani said that the money was distributed to politicians on the directives of the then-army chief Beg and then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan.
“I received instruction from the COAS Mirza Aslam Beg that a certain business community in Karachi had raised some contribution to support the election campaign of the IJI [Islami Jamhoori Ittehad], and if I could arrange for it to be distributed as per the formulas (sic) that would be conveyed to me by the election cell in the President’s office,” Durrani said in his statement.
Beg requested that the court obtain transaction records from banks used for disbursing the funds.
The chief justice asked the attorney general to inquire from the federal government if former inquiry commission reports regarding Mehran Bank and Habib Bank have been made public. If not, the reports should be made available for the court’s use in-camera, the chief justice said.
The attorney general sought permission to go through past records of cross-examinations on the affidavits.
Political cell in ISI
The former army chief stated that a political cell in the intelligence agency was created under an administrative instrument, or executive order, passed by former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1975.
The existence of such a cell is unwarranted and interferes with the fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan, Beg said.
This court could declare that no such political cell be allowed to continue in the security agencies, he added.
In his statement, Beg stated that he believes this case is entirely based upon disputed facts.
Various Pakistan Peoples Party governments do not spare any opportunity to tarnish the image of the judiciary and the armed forces, he alleged.
(Read: Echoes from the past)
Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2012.
Correction: A statement of Justice Khilji Arif Hussain had been incorrectly attributed to General (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg in an earlier version of this article. The correction has been made.
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