Asghar Khan case: SC summons replies from Nawaz Sharif, other respondents in a week

  • Javed Hashmi denied receiving money doled out by two senior army officers against PPP.
Pakistan

ISLAMABAD- The Supreme Court ordered on Wednesday all respondents, including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, to submit their replies within a week in a case pertaining to implementation of Asghar Khan case verdict.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar inquired about Sharif when a three-member bench started hearing the case. The court was informed that the former premier was not present in the court, to which, the court ordered Sharif to appear before the court in an hour.

Later, the attorney general informed the court that Nawaz will appear before the court through his lawyer, adding that decision to select the counsel in the case is yet to be made.

In response, the chief justice gave time to the former premier to arrange a lawyer for the case.

However, renowned politician Javed Hashmi and others, who have been issued notices, appeared in the court. Hashmi denied receiving money doled out by two senior army officers and then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan to thwart PPP’s victory in the 1990 elections.

On Tuesday, the court issued notices to as many as 31 political figures including Nawaz Sharif, Javed Hashmi, Jam Mashooq, Ajmal Khan, Afaq Ahmed, Siraj ul Haq, Khursheed Shah, Ghulam Mustafa Khar and others.

The top court has also summoned Abida Hussain, former ISI chief Asad Durrani and Altaf Qureshi to physically appear before the bench and explain the position regarding their role in the case, loitering in the courts for over 20 years.

During the last hearing of the case, Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali submitted a report in the court pertaining to the cabinet’s decision in the case; he informed the bench that the cabinet has decided to implement the Supreme Court’s order and has directed the FIA to continue the investigation in the case.

Upon this, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar questioned what strategy has been devised to ensure that those who received the money return it back and ordered the court staff to re-seal the report detailing the cabinet meeting, as requested by the attorney general.

Despite the submission of the report, the top judge expressed his disappointment over the lack of progress in the high-profile case and remarked that the government “ran away” after forming a sub-committee for the implementation of the case verdict.

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.

Asghar KhanThe 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.

Gen (r) Asad DurraniAsghar 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.

Supreme Court Order

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.