90s poll rigging: ‘I followed orders in best interests of Pakistan’

Ex-ISI chief admits agency role in riggin­g 1990 polls, says Army Chief fully inform­ed of all activi­ty.

Azam Khan May 16, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt-Gen Asad Durrani, conceded that the ISI and Military Intelligence (MI) had played their respective roles in rigging the 1990 parliamentary elections. However, Durrani maintained that this was conducted within a legal ambit and as per orders of then President, with then Army Chief Mirza Aslam Beg being kept fully informed of all activity.

Durrani on Wednesday submitted a counter affidavit in response to former army chief Gen (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg’s statement in which he blamed the ISI for ‘corrupt practices’.

Durrani, defending his position, insisted that the role of ISI and MI to distribute funds among various politicians and political parties was lawful, and he added that Beg was also informed about the plan. “The ISI did have the mandate to carry out this task, which has often been reiterated during the proceedings of this case,” the former spymaster maintained.

“The decision to disburse election donations through the ISI may well have been taken by then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan, who, having handpicked the caretaker government including its Prime Minister Mustafa Jatoi, was de-facto the chief executive. The operation was therefore lawful and it followed an established chain of command,” Durrani said.

“All accounts were maintained by officers belonging to the various MI detachments, and funds were placed in temporary accounts and the details can be provided on a confidential basis. Only after the disbursements were over, the balance was transferred to a special fund of the ISI,” Durrani held, adding that “since records were meticulously maintained, all transactions can be accounted for.”

Beg had filed a fresh statement on May 10 wherein he had tried to absolve himself of any involvement in the distribution of funds to various recipients. Durrani said that “to put the record straight: General Mirza Aslam Beg, as the army chief, was right from the beginning on board in this operation; both in the process of issuing instructions, as well as overseeing the disbursements.”

Durrani, establishing the origins of his orders with then Presiden Ishaq Khan, said, “in fact, I received my initial orders to organise distribution of election donations (through president Ishaq Khan). Though the subsequent instructions were at times conveyed by Ijlal Haider Zaidi, a member of the president's election team, I kept the army chief fully informed.”

Besides Beg’s reference on the subject, the petitioner, Air Marshal Asghar Khan, in his letter dated January 30, 1999 to the chief justice acknowledged that “the charter of the ISI makes it clear that it can be used by the chief executive of the country to finance political parties”. Then Chief justice of Pakistan, Saiduzzaman Siddiqui in his order dated June 16, 1997, was pleased to refer to the documents placed before him by the then attorney general.

Durrani maintained, “as I had stated when called upon by the court to do so on March 9, 2012, I do not wish to merely take cover of the mandate, or of carrying out orders from the competent authority. I believe that as a general of the Pakistan Army, I also have to take responsibility for my action.”

The general sought a private audience, or if not granted, then to submit his reasons in a sealed envelope. “In this case, I followed orders convinced that it was in the country’s best interest. I seek the court’s permission to explain my decision on a confidential basis; or if it pleases the court, to submit an ‘eyes only’ paper on the subject.”

He said that the institution of the ISI was brought under political control way back in 1975. According to Beg’s affidavit dated February 23, 1997, a political cell was created in the ISI by the then prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

“Be as it may, ISI as an organisation responds to multiple centres of power: the president, in his capacity as the supreme commander of the Armed Forces; the three service chiefs and the chairman JSHQ; and indeed the prime minister. In practice, however, the army chief wields more power over the ISI than any of its other ‘bosses’; not only because of his extraordinary status in the national polity, but also because most of the ISI’s senior appointments including its director general are serving soldiers,” Durrani explained.


roheespk | 10 years ago | Reply

What a country! Generals distribute public money among politicians in the best interest of nation for rigging their (nation) votes. It is the time that SC order Court Martial of all such x-Generals in the best interest of nation.

Rao | 10 years ago | Reply

Some of them have died and will pay on the dya of judgment, and the rest will be soon leave this world and will be severly accountable by GOD. Let them enjoy their status and let them cheet this nation in the name of ' supereme naional interests".

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