ISLAMABAD: During Wednesday’s hearing of the petition filed by Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan pertaining to Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) distributing money among politicians, Secretary to President Asif Ali Zardari, Malik Asif Hayat, submitted a response stating that no political cell had been operating in the President House since Sept 2008, DawnNews reported.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar, 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 Durrani.
Justice Khilji Arif Hussain inquired of the president’s secretary as to whether a political cell existed in the Presidency prior to Sept 2008.
Upon which, Hayat stated that it was possible that an election information cell had operated from the President House in the past.
Hayat said there were some files in the possession of the president’s military secretary, adding that, he would be able to respond on the matter once he had reviewed those.
In his remarks, Chief Justice Iftikhar said that the then president’s support for the IJI was a violation of his oath.
The chief justice reiterated that the head of state should not support any political group.
“Under the Constitution, the president is the head of state, not the chief of a political party,” Chief Justice Iftikhar said.
The then head of the Military Intelligence, Brig (retd) Hamid Saeed, could not appear for the hearing on account of ill health.
The bench subsequently issued summons for Saeed – who Durrani previously alleged had a role in the distribution of money among politicians – for tomorrow. Advocate Akram Sheikh, the counsel for former army chief Gen (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg, told the bench that his client had spoken to everyone advocating to abolish the political cell.
Upon which, Justice Khawaja remarked that institutions were to be run constitutionally, adding that, that was what the bench was concerned with.
Sheikh further said that Durrani's statement of March 8, 2012 in the court had stated that six crore rupees had been spent on internal intelligence and election expenditure and eight crore rupees had been deposited in the ISI's Karachi account to be spent on foreign intelligence.
The bench subsequently adjourned the hearing to Oct 18 (Thursday).