ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Monday granted two-days to the Presidency to submit written reply in response to Air Marshal (Retd) Asghar Khan’s petition over alleged distribution of Rs 140 million among politicians by Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to manipulate general elections of 1990.
The former PAF chief had alleged that ISI dished out Rs 140 million to prevent Pakistan Peoples Party from winning the then polls.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, resumed hearing of Asghar Khan’s petition.
Malik Asif Hayat, Secretary to President Asif Ali Zardari apprised the bench that there is no political or election cell of ISI which existed in the President House. Secretary to President further said after tracing out the relevant record the response would be filed. During the proceedings, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja said that the oath of Armed Forces officers bound them that they would not take part in politics.
He said that Armed Forces officers must see that the order given to them is in accordance with their oath.
Justice Khilji said they would see whether the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces was authorised to give order for the distribution of money among the politicians.
Salman Akram Raja said that it was not in writing whether the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan ordered the then COAS to distribute funds, adding, that only Mirza Aslam Beg has alleged in a statement that the President had ordered him for distribution of money.
Roedad Khan, former bureaucrat, on Monday categorically denied his involvement in disbursement of funds from Presidency to IJI and stated that he never acted in his official capacity being the in-charge of Accountability Cell.
During the proceedings, Lt-Gen (Retd) Asad Durrani, ex-chief of ISI, informed the court that Hamid Saeed, being the in-charge of the cell, distributed funds. He said in Presidency cell was established for elections and he had contacts with Ijlal Haider Zaidi in that regard and also met him many times. The ex-chief said: “Col Rafi Raza was also there (cell), but don’t know about his role.”
He said the General (Retd) Aslam Beg had instructed him about the distribution of money among the politicians and whatever he did was for the ‘national interest’.
The Chief Justice addressing Durrani said your actions were against the Constitution and your oath, adding, after becoming Ambassador Durrani confessed about distribution of money.
The Chief Justice said they wanted to see that how the Presidency got involved in politics. He further said a person in the Presidency is the President of Pakistan and not of any particular group or party. The President is the symbol of Federation’s unity, he said.
Iftikhar Chaudhry said as a layman he always appreciated the services of Ghulam Ishaq Khan but being a judge condemned his role in politics.
The CJP said that national interest was that Army’s role was only to face threats on the borders, while the civil administration was responsible to control law and order situation within the country.
Iftikhar questioned how the victory of one party in the elections could be termed as the ‘national interest’. He said still the Army and ISI were fighting with foreign elements brilliantly.
Salman Akram Raja argued that during the tenure of Ziaul Haq there were contacts between ISI and Presidency and at that time Roedad Khan remained Secretary Interior for eight years. The former bureaucrat said that it was wrong that he was member of the cell.
Justice Khilji remarked that they wanted to make sure that whether agencies interfered in the elections. Roedad Khan said that Rafi Raza wrote in his book that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto used the cell for political purposes. He claimed that at the age of 90s he still remember that he never had contact with any cell and asked the Chief Justice that if his claim is proved wrong then send him to Adiala Jail.
Justice Khilji stated that he was fed up with the word ‘national interest’, adding, that the national interest was what that was written in the Constitution.
Salman Akram contended that the illegalities by senior officers should not go unnoticed, as everyone is bound to act in accordance with the Constitution.
He said Asghar Khan is not against any institution but wanted action against those senior officers of the Armed Forces, who took unconstitutional steps.
The Chief Justice asked him you wanted some legislation against that institution.
Raja replied that for some reason the efforts in this regard could not prove fruitful. The Chief Justice said that they never stopped anyone from making laws in this regard.
Iftikhar remarked that the President was the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and he was not authorised to help the IJI.
The Chief Justice further said that interference in the political system was the violation of Article 17 of the Constitution and in the Adnan Khawja case they have passed judgement that officers are not bound to obey illegal orders.
He said if the President had given any illegal order to the then COAS, then Beg had to consult the experts.
The court directed Lt Gen (Retd) Durrani to submit his arguments in written form and asked Salman Akram Raja to file the synopsis of his legal points. Munir Paracha, counsel for Younas Habib, and Akram Sheikh appearing on behalf of Aslam Beg would argue their case on Tuesday (today).