The Supreme Court’s short order in the Asghar Khan case may have placed blame on two army generals for violating the Constitution by rigging the 1990 elections against the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), but it left lingering questions about the details of the so-called “anti-state activities” of “some players” that prompted the interference to begin with.
One of the pushers of the “national interest” argument, the former head of the Military Intelligence (MI) Sindh chapter Brigadier (retd) Hamid Saeed shared details of such activities with The Express Tribune. In an earlier statement submitted by the former MI chief to the Supreme Court, which Saeed also shared with The Express Tribune, the former MI chief said former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was labelled a “security risk” for Pakistan, adding that Bhutto’s public criticism of the army had landed her in hot waters.
Saeed, who claimed that it was not an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) operation and that the MI was supervising it when Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani was its director general, claimed that the former prime minister had also blamed the army for supplying weapons to ‘Muhajirs’ in Karachi, citing the target killings of political workers by rival groups in the city. Bhutto also publicly slammed the army for enriching uranium to levels not acceptable to world powers, he said.
Furthermore, Saeed claimed that Bhutto in another incident censured the army for conducting an annual military exercise in Sindh without her consent, adding that the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) was forced to issue a press release clarifying that under the law the army chief was not obliged to seek anyone’s permission for conducting training exercises in any part of the country.
Saeed also referred to a BBC interview of Benazir Bhutto in which she voiced her support to India in crushing the armed dissident Khalistan movement in Indian Punjab.
In his affidavit, Saeed alleged that the Bhutto-led government had also given sensitive posts in the government to Al-Zulfiqar activists, endangering national security. The retired brigadier alleged that these activists had been given training by India to carry out acts of terrorism and that a record of these terrorists was available with the intelligence agencies. In an interview with Waqt TV, Saeed also named Mir Murtaza Bhutto, brother of Benazir Bhutto, as a supporter for these activists.
The former MI official claimed that, after the Bhutto government was sent packing through a presidential order on September 12, 1990, the then DG MI Major General Muhammad Asad Durrani visited Karachi and directed him to open six accounts in different banks, send him the titles of the accounts and monitor the account balances on a weekly basis.
Saeed added that, in compliance with these directions, six accounts were opened in different banks, in which funds began pouring in from September 16, 1990. By October 22, 1990, Rs140 million had been deposited in these accounts, he said.
“I would like to state that, during my service with the Military Intelligence, I was of the opinion that the funds were coming from the General Headquarters (GHQ),” Saeed said, adding that he only learnt of Younus Habib’s involvement in the case after he was arrested for fraud at Habib Bank Limited.
Furthermore, he claimed that Durrani had called him to explore the possibility of bailing Habib out of jail, adding that the army chief wanted to secure his release because he had been helpful in doing work of “national importance.”
“I showed him my inability to do so because the case was sub judice,” Saeed said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2012.