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SC rejects FIA’s report, orders not to close Asghar Khan Case


News Analysis |

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday, Jan 11 has decided not to close the Asghar Khan Case and has summoned defense secretary to inform the court of the status of case allegedly involving army officers. Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar was hearing the case when he rejected the request made by the Federal Investigation (FIA) to close the case. “How can we close the case, we will carry out an investigation into the matter, ” the chief justice reportedly said. The court has also directed the FIA to submit its response to clarify as to why the case should be closed.

On December 29th the FIA had requested the SC to close the case because of its inability to gather sufficient amount of evidence to initiate criminal processing against the individuals involved. FIA maintained that the case was 25 years old and banks had no record of transactions, therefore, it could not have proceeded. “Statements of some witness are contradictory and some of the politicians have rejected the allegations”, the report added.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan declared the 1990 election rigged and ordered the FIA to initiate an inquiry against those who had given the money and those who had accepted the money. 

It is pertinent to note that the family of late Asghar Khan rejected the proposal of the FIA and demanded that the case should reach its logical conclusion. Analysts opine that Asghar Khan case is a historic case which has exposed the role of the spy agency, money, and politicians in Pakistan who worked for their respective interests instead of national ones.

What is Asghar Khan Case?

In 1996, retired Air Marshal Asghar Khan filed a human rights petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and accused the spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of distributing money during 1990 elections to get desired outcomes. The case was initiated by the air marshal after Benazir Bhutto’s interior minister, retired Gen Naseerullah Babar, had disclosed in the National Assembly in 1994 how the ISI had distributed money to purchase the loyalty of politicians and journalists and editors so as to manipulate the 1990 elections, form the Islami Jamhoori Ittihad (IJI), and affect the defeat of the PPP.

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

In 1990 PPP was in power and Benazir Bhutto was the prime minister of Pakistan. Just after 9 months of her election a vote of no confidence was brought against her. It is alleged that money was used by the ISI to bring the vote of no confidence against Benazir Bhutto and also to manage an electoral win for Nawaz Sharif.

Supreme Court of Pakistan gave a Historic Verdict on October 19, 2012

A three-member bench comprising the then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain gave a historic verdict in the Asghar Khan case on October 19, 2012 regarding distribution of around Rs60 million among politicians (and other public figures) contesting the 1990 elections from the platform of Islami Jamhoori Ittihad (IJI), consisting of nine parties including the Pakistan Muslim League, National Peoples Party and Jamaat-e-Islami.

A confessional statement of former ISI head made the case more interesting to further probe into the matter in order to punish those involved in this “illegal” activity.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan declared the 1990 election rigged and ordered the FIA to initiate an inquiry against those who had given the money and those who had accepted the money. The court also directed the federal government to take action against those involved in ‘unlawful’ practices within the bounds of the 1973 constitution.

FIA’s Initial Report

The FIA team led by the then Karachi Director Shahid Hayat, Punjab Director Dr. Usman Anwar and Islamabad Director Economic Crime Wing (ECW) Sardar Zaheer had so far recorded statements of over a dozen and half accused.

They include former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, former army chief Gen (Retd) Mirza Aslam Beg, former ISI DG Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani, late Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan, former chief executive of the now defunct Mehran Bank Younis Habib, former ambassador to the US Syeda Abida Hussain, seasoned politician Javed Hashmi, former Punjab governor Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Advocate Yousuf Memon, senior journalist Altaf Hassan Qureshi, National Bank of Pakistan Legal Division Head Raza Mohsin Qizilbash, Habib Bank Company Secretary Nosheen Ahmed, Allied Bank Limited Clifton Branch Karachi Banking Service Officer Shafiq Ahmed, UBL City Branch Karachi Customer Service Operation Manager Sarmad Faisal Abbasi, MCB Clifton Branch Karachi Manager Faisal Nisar, Advocate Muhammad Yousaf Memon, former Sindh chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim, Ghulam Ali Nizamani, Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah and others.

Read more: Reviewing Asghar Khan case is damaging for Nawaz Sharif only

All the politicians had vehemently rejected the ‘allegations’ except Abida Hussain who accepted her guilt during the course of the inquiry.

Confession of Lt. General Asad Durrani

Later on, during the course of inquiry ISI head Lt. General Asad Durrani confessed that money was distrusted to buy loyalties of politicians to manage elections for Nawaz Sharif. He also submitted an affidavit, giving names of the politicians as well as journalists, editors, and that of others belonging powerful elite of Pakistan.

A confessional statement of former ISI head made the case more interesting to further probe into the matter in order to punish those involved in this “illegal” activity.

Read more: Remembering Air Marshal Asghar Khan

Observers argue that this case needs to be probed carefully in order to give exemplary punishments to those who preferred money over national interest. The SC of Pakistan seems serious and focused on this case. It is worth noting that if this case further proceeds, the embattled Nawaz Sharif, who is currently in jail over corruption charges after his conviction by an accountability court, will face more problems since it will raise questions about the narrative he is trying to sell out these days.