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SC rejects FIA’s plea to close Asghar Khan case again


News Desk |

Supreme Court rejected on Monday the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA)’s request to close the Asghar Khan case and directed FIA to submit a detailed report within four weeks.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Azmat Saeed, remarked that the FIA’s report “is incomplete” and it contained only summary and not even the statements of the witnesses. “Testimonies can be presented in an envelope, and if needed, they will be disclosed,” the bench remarked.

Currently, SC is hearing the case on the implementation of the verdict in the Asghar Khan case which concerns the dishing out of Rs140 million among politicians before the general elections in 1990.

It added that efforts were underway to search more witnesses. On April 2, the court had directed FIA to produce a supplementary report in the case. The court is expected to take up the case after four weeks.

When the case was taken up, FIA once again requested the court to close Asghar Khan case saying it has become impossible to plead the case in any court due to the insufficient evidence.

The investigation agency informed the court that investigation was conducted into benami bank accounts and statements of all the key witnesses were recorded, adding that the FIA inquiry committee also interviewed two journalists, Mujibur Rehman Shami, and Habib Ikram.

In addition, FIA said that key witnesses Brig (retd) Hamid Saeed and Yousuf Memon were also investigated but adequate evidence to proceed the case further did not emerge. The local media reported that the FIA informed the bench that “it has become impossible to run the case in any court due to insufficient evidence”.

Read more: Asghar Khan Case: SC gives FIA one month to complete inquiry

As FIA requested the court to close the case because the witnesses were denying to take money, Justice Saeed remarked “If a person pleads not guilty, then does that mean that the case should be closed? FIA’s earlier request made in January this year was also turned down.

Meanwhile, the defense ministry also filed a report in the case on Monday saying that all the efforts were being made to take the matter to its logical end. The ministry’s report said that an inquiry committee was constituted to review all the evidence, adding that the committee has so far recorded statements of six witnesses. It added that efforts were underway to search more witnesses. On April 2, the court had directed FIA to produce a supplementary report in the case. The court is expected to take up the case after four weeks.

Case History

Former air chief Air Marshal Asghar Khan had petitioned the Supreme Court in 1996 alleging that the two senior army officers and the then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan had doled out Rs140 million among several politicians ahead of the 1990 polls to ensure Benazir Bhutto’s defeat in the polls.

The case began in 1996 after Khan had written a letter to the then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Justice Nasim Hassan Shah and informed about the disbursement of public money and its misuse for political purposes.

After 16 years – on October 19, 2012 – the Supreme Court issued a 141-page verdict ordering legal proceedings against Gen (retd) Aslam Beg and Lt Gen (retd) Asad Durrani in the case. Khan, who passed away in January this year, is being represented by Salman Akram Raja.

The Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), consisting of nine parties including the Pakistan Muslim League, National Peoples Party and Jamaat-e-Islami, had won the 1990 elections, with Nawaz Sharif being elected prime minister. The alliance had been formed to oppose the Benazir Bhutto-led Pakistan Peoples Party.

The case began in 1996 after Khan had written a letter to the then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Justice Nasim Hassan Shah and informed about the disbursement of public money and its misuse for political purposes. He had named Durrani and Younis Habib, the ex-Habib Bank Sindh chief and owner of Mehran Bank.

Read more: Asghar Khan case: The ugly truth about Pakistani politics

In 2012, the then-Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry had directed FIA to initiate a transparent investigation and subsequent trial if sufficient evidence was found against the former army officers.