–Federal cabinet had skipped framing policy on treason trial against Gen Beg and Lt Gen Durrani in Tuesday’s meeting
ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet is expected to frame a policy regarding action against former army chief Gen (r) Mirza Aslam Beg and former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general Lt Gen (r) Asad Durrani as ordered by the Supreme Court in the Asghar Khan case, when it meets for the last time on Thursday, marking the end of the ruling party’s five-year tenure.
Although the cabinet had met on Tuesday under the leadership of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, it had skipped outlining a policy to initiate action against the former top generals besides approving the composition of a special court to hold a treason trial against the accused for manipulating the 1990 general elections.
A four-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar had sought a reply from the federal government regarding the implementation of its 2012 verdict, which may also have implications for deposed premier Nawaz Sharif.
“The government should decide how it will proceed against the two officers,” observed the bench. It also asked why high treason proceedings under Article 6 of the constitution could not be initiated against them.
Declining Attorney General Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf’s request seeking two weeks for the government to outline a procedure, the apex court noted that the federal government’s tenure was ending on May 31; therefore, a special meeting of the cabinet could be summoned to decide on the matter.
However, since then, the successive cabinet meetings failed to discuss the matter as ordered by the top court.
On October 19, 2012, the apex court had issued a 141-page verdict, ordering legal proceedings against Gen (r) Beg and retired Lt Gen Durrani in a case filed 16 years ago by former air chief Air Marshal Asghar Khan.
Khan, who passed away in January this year, was represented in the Supreme Court 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 People’s 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.
That investigation is yet to conclude.
In May 2017, the PTI had said it would approach the Supreme Court over the FIA’s failure to follow through on the apex court’s order in the case.
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