ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court has issued notices to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) DG Lieutenant General Asad Durrani and former army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg in the high-profile Asghar Khan case.
The top court has also fixed the case for hearing on August 15, summoning the attorney general and DG director general Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar will hear the case on Wednesday where the former premier Nawaz Sharif is not expected to show up owing to his imprisonment in the Adiala Jail.
The Asghar Khan case relates to the distribution of hefty sums of money to notable politicians including Nawaz Sharif to influence the 1990 elections and bar Pakistan peoples Party slain leader, Benazir Bhutto from winning.
The politicians alleged to have received a total of Rs 350 million deny the allegations, however, an affidavit by the former spy chief, Asad Durrani bolsters the case.
In an earlier hearing, the Federal Investigation Agency was tasked to probe the case following which the agency recorded the statements of former military bigwigs and politicians.
Asghar Khan Case
Filed by former air chief, Asghar Khan, the case in question is one of the most talked about cases in the judicial history of Pakistan. It also gives a glimpse about the civil-military relations and the role played by the military establishment in the political domain.
Air Marshal Asghar Khan, in his petition filed in 1996, claimed that two senior army officers and then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan doled out Rs 140 million among few individuals to thwart the bid of Pakistan People’s Party, secure victory in the 1990 elections.
The petition was filed when Justice Nasim Hassan Shah was the Chief Justice, however, the verdict came after a span of 16 years on October 19, 2012 when the apex court issued a 141-page verdict, ordering legal proceedings against Gen (retd) Beg and Lt Gen (retd) Durrani, however, nothing substantial was done in this regard.
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.
Asghar Khan, who passed away in January this year, was represented in the Supreme Court by renowned lawyer Salman Akram Raja.
Interestingly, the federal government had filed a review petition in 2012 when Asif Ali Zardari was the president, however, it was taken back.
Among the politicians accused of receiving money, the most noticeable is Nawaz Sharif, the former premier of Pakistan, who, according to the affidavit submitted by Asad Durrani got Rs 3.5 million.
Asghar Khan Case Verdict
On October 19, 2012, a Supreme Court bench headed by a former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP), Iftikhar Chaudhry, directed the then PPP government to take action against the former military officials for doling Rs140 million to politicians in order to ensure the defeat of slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto in the elections.
The Federal Investigation Agency had also been tasked with investigating the matter against the politicians, including embattled Sharif, who had allegedly received the money to run election campaigns. It was also ordered to recover the distributed amount from the accused politicians with profit.
Later, Beg and Durrani had later filed a review petition against the verdict, while these petitions were turned down by the Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar. However, both military officials refused the findings of the court in the case.
SC Scraps review Petitions
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 apex court’s ruling also has implications for former prime minister 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.
Salman Akram Raja, the counsel for former air chief, late Asghar Khan, appeared before a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.
The court also remarked that both retired officers would face the consequences of their illegal acts. Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, who is a member of the bench, asked another member whether the case can be sent for court martial.
During the hearing, the DG FIA was also summoned to inform the court about progress in the probe. The DG said that 12 accused in the case had died while statements of 18 persons have been recorded. He added that the probe was stopped after review petitions were filed. The FIA head further said that all accused were refusing the fact on receiving funds for election campaigns.
Later, the bench asked the FIA official to inform the court regarding the implementation of the 2012 verdict as review petitions have been turned down.