Islamabad (Staff Report/Agencies): The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday granted a one-month deadline for the completion of any inquiry against Pakistan Army officers involved in distributing millions of rupees among politicians and public figures to manipulate the 1990 elections.
A three-member SC bench headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed heard a case filed by late air chief marshal Asghar Khan in 1996, alleging that two senior army officers and then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan had doled out Rs140 million among several politicians to rig the 1990 polls against Benazir Bhutto.
During the hearing, Justice Gulzar reprimanded the Defence Ministry for its failure to initiate court martial proceedings against the officers, ordering that the inquiry against the Pakistan Army officers involved in the case be completed within four weeks, the top court directed that a report be presented.
He said it seemed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had also lost interest in the case.
Earlier, the SC had rejected the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) recommendation to close a case filed by late air chief marshal Asghar Khan due to “lack of evidence”.
A two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar resumed hearing the case regarding non-implementation of its October 19, 2012 judgment.
Family of the late Asghar Khan had rejected the Federal Investigation Agency's (FIA) recommendations, requesting the Supreme Court not to close the case.
In their joint reply to a notice in connection with the implementation of the landmark 2012 verdict in the Asghar Khan case, Khan's legal heirs requested that an inquiry in accordance with the SC's six-year-old order be continued.
A two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar resumed hearing the case earlier today regarding non-implementation of its October 19, 2012 judgment.
The FIA had recommended the top court to close the case, stating that the case is more than 25 years old and therefore relevant banks do not have the details of deposits made at the time. The report added that there are contradictions in the statements of the witnesses.
The report further says that the statements of important witnesses in the case contradict each other, whereas the politicians accused of receiving money have also denied the allegations.
The Supreme Court had issued a 141-page verdict on October 19, 2012, ordering legal proceedings against Gen (retd) Aslam Beg and Lt Gen (retd) Asad Durrani.
Asghar Khan, who passed away in January this year, was represented in the SC by renowned lawyer Salman Akram Raja.
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 Islamic 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.
In 1996, Khan had written a letter to the then Supreme Court Chief Justice Nasim Hassan Shah naming Beg, Durrani and Younis Habib, the ex-Habib Bank Sindh chief and owner of Mehran Bank, about the unlawful disbursement of public money and its misuse for political purposes.
The 2012 apex court judgment, authored by the then-Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry, had directed the Federal Investigation Agency to initiate a transparent investigation and subsequent trial if sufficient evidence is found against the former army officers.
On May 7 this year, Supreme Court of Pakistan had rejected review petitions filed by former army chief Gen Mirza Aslam Beg and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) former chief Gen Asad Durrani against its 2012 verdict in Asghar Khan case , saying both officers would face consequences of their illegal acts.
The SC ruling also has implications for former PM Nawaz Sharif, who had also been accused of receiving money ahead of the 1990 general election. The court also sought a reply from the federal government regarding executing the verdict.