By Nafisa Hoodbhoy
(Includes ATDT Excerpt on Backdrop for Asghar Khan’s Petition)
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday fixed February 29 to hear the petition filed by Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Asghar Khan 16 years ago pertaining to Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) distributing money among politicians.
Meanwhile, the former ISI chief Gen. (Retd) Durrani submitted an affidavit confirming the accusation.
The petition has called upon the apex court to punish the politicians and political groups who have been receiving pots of money from the agency.
Various politicians had demanded the petition to be heard.
Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan, in 1996, wrote a letter to then chief justice Nasim Hasan Shah against former army chief Mirza Aslam Baig, former ISI chief Lt-General (retd) Asad Durrani and Younis Habib of Habib and Mehran Banks, relating to the disbursement of public money and its misuse for political purposes.
Aboard the Democracy Train Excerpt (P. 27)
Elections Were the Tip of the Iceberg
As a guest of the interim Prime Minister Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, I had witnessed how state funds and propaganda were used to defeat Benazir. But I was still an onlooker, without inside knowledge of what had transpired in the inner circles. Then still an inexperienced reporter, I couldn’t guess how the establishment defeated the PPP, which, right or wrong, had the support of the masses.
In 1996, some clues emerged. Retired Air Marshal Asghar Khan filed a case in the Supreme Court, alleging that the powerful secret service wing of the army – the ISI – had rigged the 1990 election. Based on Asghar Khan’s petition, former ISI chief, Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani took the stand in the Supreme Court and provided an affidavit that the army had indeed distributed Pkr 140 million (USD 1.6 million) to anti-PPP candidates, only a few months before the October 1990 election.
The anti-PPP candidates banded in the IJI comprised feudal, Islamic and ethnic parties that resolutely opposed Benazir’s populist rule. Subsequently, we learnt that the care-taker President Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, who had stayed mum while Chip probed him – had actually taken PKR 5 million (USD 59,000) from the ISI. Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif – who was ushered in by the military to succeed Benazir as prime minister – was revealed to have received PKR 3.5 million (USD 41,000) from the spy agencies.
Apparently, the army was so scared that Benazir would be elected back into power that their IJI coalition distributed state funds among various interest groups to prevent her return.
As I covered national politics, Asghar Khan talked to me in earnest, as though I was a player rather than a reporter. Then in coalition with the PPP, he told me that Benazir and Nawaz ought to unite to repeal Article 58-2(b). This was the constitutional clause introduced by Gen. Zia ul Haq that allowed presidents like Ghulam Ishaq Khan to dissolve the assembly.
Although, I shared Asghar Khan’s desire for principled politics, it surprised me that he seemed clueless about Benazir’s approach of doing whatever it took to return to power.
Courtesy: Aboard The Democracy Train