ISLAMABAD: Former chief of Pakistan Army, Gen. (retd) Mirza Aslam Baig has denied any involvement in or knowledge of dishing out money to politicians in the 90s, laying the blame of the illegal distribution on Lt-Gen. (retd) Asad Durrani, who was the intelligence chief at the time.
On Wednesday, the former military head submitted his statement in the Supreme Court during a hearing of a petition filed by Air Martial (retd) Asghar Khan, a former chief of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF).
Khan had filed a petition in the Supreme Court in 1996, accusing the ISI of illegally financing several politicians during the 1990 elections to create the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) and prevent Benazir Bhutto’s PPP from winning. The case, after a few hearings, had been postponed indefinitely, but was recently picked up again after more than a decade. A bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, is hearing the case.
Khan’s petition was based on the affidavit of former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Asad Durrani. In the affidavit, the former ISI chief had alleged that Rs.140 million had been distributed among politicians on the directives of then Army chief Aslam Baig.
In the statement submitted Wednesday, Baig has maintained the stance that the alleged funds were transferred into the ISI’s accounts, and not the Army’s accounts. Baig has claimed that he neither had any knowledge of orders to distribute the funds by then president of Pakistan Ghulam Ishaq, nor was he aware of any illicit activity concerning the funds.
The former military chief has further claimed that the ISI at the time was not operating under the command of the Army chief.
The controversial case also involves Habib Bank Limited and the now defunct Mehran Bank Limited, through which the funds were allegedly transferred to several politicians and political parties, including former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, and the Jamaat-e-Islami, among others.
During the last hearing of the case on April 25, the three-member SC bench was of the opinion that a report submitted by the interior ministry was based on the recollections of Interior Minister Rehman Malik and therefore was not acceptable.
The report had quoted Malik as saying that he had been delegated the responsibility to investigate the issue by Naseerullah Babar but that reports of those investigations were no longer available.