Islamabad, Oct. 19: The Pakistan Supreme Court today ordered the government to take legal action against former army chief Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg and former ISI chief Asad Durrani over accusations of financing a group of politicians to prevent the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) from coming to power in 1990.
A three-judge panel, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, issued the directives in response to a petition filed in 1996 by former air force chief Asghar Khan against the alleged distribution of funds by the ISI among politicians to prevent the PPP’s victory in the 1990 polls.
The apex court resumed hearing the petition earlier this year after a gap of over 12 years. “It has been established that in the general elections of 1990, an election cell was established in the presidency to influence the polls and was aided by Baig, who was the chief of army staff, and by Durrani, the then director general of the ISI,” Chaudhry said.
Chaudhry also said that the election cell should be shut down immediately as such an institution was unconstitutional. Any notification to create such a cell would be null and void, the bench ruled.
It further directed the Federal Investigation Agency to probe the distribution of funds among politicians so that legal action could be taken against them.
While referring to the role played by Beg and Durrani, the bench said they had violated the Constitution and the law by meddling in politics. Their actions had affected the image of the country and the armed forces, it said.
Though the two generals have retired, the court directed the government to take action against them according to the Constitution and the law.
The bench said late President Ghulam Ishaq Khan had created the cell which had rigged the 1990 polls and polluted the political system. Neither the presidency nor the army chief cannot create such cells or interfere in the political process, it said.
During the hearing of the case, the apex court was informed that the cell had received Rs 140 crores from banker Younis Habib for rigging the polls. Of this, Rs 6 crore was distributed among politicians while Rs 8 crore was retained in a “survey and construction account” maintained by the military intelligence. The Supreme Court urged the authorities to recover the amount paid to politicians with interest and to deposit the funds with the national exchequer.
The amount retained by the military intelligence too should be recovered. Action should also be taken against banker Habib, the court said. Chaudhry read out the bench’s short order after delivering its verdict earlier in the day.
Asghar Khan, who is now linked to Imran Khan’s party, described the order as a “correct decision”. Khan’s lawyer Salman Akram Raja said the apex court had specifically named Beg and Durrani for violating the Constitution and directed authorities to probe all politicians linked to the scandal.