- CJP remarks Musharraf’s return to Pakistan depends on how courageous he is
- Top court orders all institutions, including Ministry of Defence, to ensure cooperation with FIA
- Javed Hashmi says assurances presented to Musharraf akin to pre-poll rigging
LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar remarked on Tuesday that he will not tolerate any further delay in Asghar Khan case verdict’s implementation while directing the authorities to complete the probe quickly.
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justice Umar Atta Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan with CJP Nisar in the chair, was hearing the implementation case of the 2012 order in Asghar Khan case which had implicated former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general (DG) Asad Durrani and chief of army staff (COAS) Gen (r) Aslam Beg as well as a number of politicians in relation to rigging in 1990 elections at apex court’s Lahore Registry.
Javed Hashmi, Abida Hussain, Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) DG Director General Basheer Memon and Gen Asad Durrani appeared before the bench. The court ordered all institutions, including the Ministry of Defence, to ensure cooperation with the FIA which had been tasked with ensuring implementation of the court verdict.
The court also asked Basheer Memon to continue at his post until investigations in the case are completed. “We have received Nawaz’s statement,” said the FIA director general in response to a question whether Nawaz Sharif had recorded his statement in the case.
CJP Nisar said that anybody summoned by the FIA must appear before the agency. “No agency has any power within the remits of this court,” he said.
“We have removed the hurdles in way of Pervez Musharraf to return to the country. Now, it all depends on Musharraf’s courage if he returns to the country or not. The investigation will be held as per law,” the CJP said in reference to the cases being faced by former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf.
Bizenjo and Khar denied any wrongdoing before the court, with Khar saying that only politicians are framed in such cases. On this, CJP Nisar said cooperating in a probe could in no way be likened to harassing one.
Hashmi told newsmen outside the court that the proceedings were being conducted to pressurise politicians in the run up to the forthcoming general elections. “We will not be intimidated,” the veteran politician asserted.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said a man guilty of violating the Constitution had been promised protocol. “This is akin to pre-poll rigging. I salute all those standing with the PML-N today.” Hashmi also wondered why proceedings were being conducted in connection with a three-decade-old case.
The FIA had previously sent notices to 19 politicians, including the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, directing them to appear before the top court in reference to the Asghar Khan case.
Zafarullah Jamali, Afaq Ahmed, Syeda Abida, Javed Hashmi and Qadir Baloch are some of the other politicians sent notices.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Rehman Malik, Younus Habib and Imtiaz Shiekh dismissed calls to appear before the FIA over the Asghar Khan case on Monday.
Advocate Yousaf Memon, Jam Mashooq and Haider Afaq were only ones who responded to FIA’s call for appearance while Rehman Malik informed FIA officials that he is trying to avoid the media limelight.
Earlier, Nawaz Sharif had submitted his response via his counsel after the top court had directed him to do so.
Nawaz’s response had stated that he never received Rs3.5 million from Lt General (r) Asad Durrani or his representatives to spend on the campaign for general elections in 1990.
In addition, he had also denied that he received Rs 3.5 million and Rs2.5 million from Younus Habib or his representatives. On October 14, 2015, Nawaz Sharif recorded his statement before the FIA inquiry committee, read the former premier’s response.
Sirajul Haq, Jamaat-e-Islami chief, and Abida Hussain also deny their involvement in the case.
On October 19, 2012, the apex court had issued a 141-page verdict, ordering legal proceedings against Gen (r) Beg and Lt Gen (r) 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 Ittihad (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 PPP.
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 then chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, had directed the FIA to initiate a transparent investigation and subsequent trial if sufficient evidence is found against the former army officers.
The investigation is yet to conclude.