IT is good news for Pakistan that the Supreme Court while announcing the short judgment on Asghar Khan’s case has recommended action against Gen Aslam Beg and Lt Gen Asad Durrani, ex-DG of the ISI, being instrumental in distributing money to politicians belonging to the IJI to defeat the PPP in the 1990 elections.
The decision is iconic and one of the first of its kind as it passes judgment on the already well established role of the establishment in affecting and influencing elections in Pakistan.
An error in the past has been identified and corrected as the entire nation knows that the IJI was formed by President Ghulam Ishaq through Gen Beg to dole out money to various politicians under the banner of the IJI to defeat the PPP. Unfortunate that a serving COAS got involved in politics and through him his institution as well.
What needs to be explored is why a democratic and able leader like Benazir Bhutto compromised and did not take action at that time against the culprits. This, in fact, is also the dilemma of our politicians compromising at a crucial juncture of history to deprive the state the much needed culture of accountability.
She had won the elections and enjoyed authority and powers that come with the portfolio of a prime minister. If she had not compromised then, we would have a totally different Pakistan today.
The money was doled out under the orders of the late president Ishaq who is no more in this world to explain his conduct.
Therefore, it would be very difficult to take any action against both the generals. The information minister has suggested that Gen Beg should be stripped of the Tamgha-i-Jamhuriat medal, along with other medals, awarded to him. I think it is stretching thing too much. Mostly these are non-operational awards and only add to beauty when displayed on service dress. It will matter very little if withdrawn.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Tamgha-i- Jumhuriat was awarded to all the three services by Benazir Bhutto for holding elections after the death of Ziaul Haq because he had the option to take over and continue military rule for some more years but he decided to go ahead with the already drawn-out plan for holding elections.
Let us not expect miracles after the judgment. Ideally the Supreme Court could have disqualified from politics for 10 years all those politicians who took money and whose names came up in the case.
This would have had far-reaching consequences and would have been a big warning to all politicians planning to contest the forthcoming general election.
M.A. BUTT Karachi