ISLAMABAD: During the hearing of a petition filed by Tehrik-i-Istiqlal chief Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan in the Supreme Court pertaining to the distribution of money among politicians by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the defence ministry in its reply stated that no political cell was operating in the ISI, DawnNews reported.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, has been hearing the 1996 petition filed by Khan who had accused the ISI of financing politicians in the 1990 elections by dishing out Rs140 million to create the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) and prevent Benazir Bhutto’s PPP from winning the polls. The petition was based on an affidavit of former ISI chief Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani.
During the hearing, the ministry submitted its reply saying no political cell was operating in the ISI.
Upon which, Chief Justice Iftikhar remarked that a letter submitted before the court on June 26, 1997 had stated that a political cell was functioning within the ISI.
The court subsequently directed Commander Shahbaz, the official representing the ministry, to submit the reply after it had been signed.
Shahbaz told the court that the ministry had confirmed the information with the intelligence agency before submitting its response.
Expressing its displeasure over the absence of Interior Secretary K.M. Siddiq Akbar, the bench issued summons for both the interior and defence secretaries.
After a short recess in the hearing, Shahbaz told the court that Secretary Defence Lt-Gen (retd) Asif Yasin Malik had failed to appear for the hearing due to his professional engagements.
The defence secretary had gone to conduct a survey of the airport, Shahbaz told the bench.
Upon which, the chief justice remarked that the defence ministry was not taking the matter seriously enough, adding that, the ministry did not understand what it meant to appear before a court of law.
Moreover, during the hearing, Asghar Khan’s counsel Salman Akram Raja told the bench that the ISI had disbursed money for political operations.
Upon which, the chief justice said that it was important to produce evidence pertaining to those who had received the money.
Raja moreover said that out of 14 crore rupees, six crore were distributed among politicians and the remaining eight crore were deposited in the account of the ISI.
He added that the officials of the ISI had violated their oaths.
Subsequently, the bench adjourned the case's hearing until tomorrow.