We never learn from history-3

August 11, 2002

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The contents of my two previous columns in this series are not revelations; they are a narrative of facts on record in our Supreme Court and as reported in our press, dating back to 1994, and for these past eight years there has been no public refutation of any accusation levelled against the politicians who accepted the people's money or were involved in one way or another in the shenanigans of the ISI.

Now, my friend Roedad Khan, perpetual bureaucrat steeped in the art of bureaucracy, yet again ready to serve his country, has reacted in a letter printed in this newspaper on July 26. Apparently, his innocence has been injured. He denies having had any connection with those in President Ghulam Ishaq's secretariat who were paid to 'fix' the 1991 elections. He has, however, said that though he does not wish "to comment on the substance of the matter," he "will do so at the appropriate time," which, hopefully, will be soon. His secretariat colleague, General Rafaqat, is listed as having accepted ISI funds to do the job. So it should seem unlikely that the other secretariat members such as Roedad Khan, Ijlal Zaidi and Chaudhry Shaukat would not be in the know. (Oddly enough, when last month President General Pervez Musharraf met a band of 'intellectuals' with whom to discuss the coming elections, the strategy to be adopted, and the constitutional amendments, these four retired members of Ghulam Ishaq's special assignment cell were amongst those summoned.)

One other to respond, whose letter was printed on August 8, was Kunwar Khalid Yunus of the MQM, who has spent well over two years in jail on various occasions during the last decade and who, when he is out and about, is the press spokesman for his party. He categorically states that the MQM has never received any illegal amounts on behalf of its founder and leader, Altaf Hussain. Listed amongst the recipients of ISI funds was "Yusuf Haroon, Rs 5 million [he confirms having received this for Altaf Hussain of the MQM]" which Khalid does not refute. Yusuf, now in Karachi, has reconfirmed that he handed over the money to Altaf Hussain at Nine-zero. Obviously Khalid was not privy to the transaction.

Last week, I was reminded by General Naseerullah Babar that I had ommitted certain names from the list of those 'anti-PPP politicians' who received payments from the ISI during the run-up to the 1990 elections rigged in favour of the IJI and Nawaz Sharif. These were: Jamaat-i-Islami Rs 5 million; Altaf Hussain Qureshi and Mustafa Sadiq Rs 0.5 million; Arbab Ghulam Aftab Rs 0.3 million; Pir Noor Mohammad Shah Rs 0.3 million; Arbab Faiz Mohammad Rs 0.3 million; Arbab Ghulam Habib Rs 0.2 million; Ismail Rahu Rs 0.2 million; Liaquat Baloch Rs 1.5 million; Jam Yusuf Rs 0.75 million; Nadir Magsi Rs 1 million; Ghulam Ali Nizamani Rs 0.3 million; Ali Akbar Nizamani Rs 0.3 million.

Yet more payments: During the Mehrangate investigations of 1993 which led up to the Supreme Court case, Younas Habib of HBL/MBL, as per his statement filed in court (recorded in Karachi under section 161 Cr.P.C), disclosed that the following political and other pay-offs were made between 1991 and 1994: "General Mirza Aslam Beg Rs 140 million; Jam Sadiq Ali (the then chief minister of Sindh) Rs 70 million; Altaf Hussain (MQM) Rs 20 million, Advocate Yousaf Memon ( for disbursement to Javed Hashmi, MNA, and others) Rs.50 million; 1992 - Jam Sadiq Ali Rs 150 million; 1993 - Liaquat Jatoi Rs .01 million; 1993 - chief minister of Sindh, through Imtiaz Sheikh Rs 12 million; Afaq of the MQM Rs 0.5 million; 1993 chief minister of Sindh, through Imtiaz Sheikh, Rs. 01. million; 1993 - Ajmal Khan, a former federal minister, Rs 1.4 million; 1993 - Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister, Rs 3.5 million; 27/9/93 Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister, Rs 2.5 million; 26/9/93 Jam Mashooq Rs 0.5 million; 26/9/93 Dost Mohammad Faizi Rs 1 million; Jam Haider Rs 2 million; Jam Mashooq Rs 3 million; Adnan, son of Sartaj Aziz, Rs 1 million; Nawaz Sharif and Ittefaq Group of Companies Rs 200 million (photocopies of cheques and deposit slips, etc, already attached with affidavit at page nos. 42 to 73); Sardar Farooq Leghari 12/12/93 (payment set/off) Rs 30 million - 6/1/94 Rs 2.0856 million - 19/3/94 Rs 1.92 million."

In 1997, in the Supreme Court, during the hearing of Human Rights Petitition 19/96 filed by Air Marshal Asghar Khan against the illegal distribution of the people's money by the ISI for political purposes, and also seeking the post-retirement court martial of General Mirza Aslam Beg, accusing him of gross misconduct by ignoring while he was chief of staff of the Pakistan Army such illegal distributions, Aslam Beg made the following statement: "I hereby take oath, and knowing fully well that I am saying this in the presence of Allah Almighty and this Honourable Court, submit that:

"ISI is Inter-Services Intelligence organization created by the government of Pakistan and had been directly answerable/responsible to the three Services through JCSC till 1975. In 1975 the then prime minister of Pakistan, through an executive order, created a political cell within the organization of ISI and by virtue of this change in the working of ISI it came directly under the control of the chief executive, particularly on political matters and for all the security matters concerning the armed forces ISI reported to the Joint Chief of Staff Committee. This status continues till today. ISI is virtually divided into two parts, one is [the] political wing and [the] other concerns matters relating to counter and strategic intelligence of the armed forces. During the days of Zia martial law, the ISI was reporting in all matters to the president, who, by virtue of his office as chief martial law administrator and president of Pakistan, controlled its office.

"After the general elections of 1988, ISI was free completely from the influence of the army and since then ISI is virtually under the control of chief executive while remaining responsible to JCSC. In 1990 when the money was donated by Younas Habib, ISI was acting under the directions of higher authorities. As chief of the army staff at that time, when I was informed of this matter my only concern was that the money received by the ISI was utilized properly and an account was maintained and beyond that I had no concern with the money.

"Although the director-general, ISI, is an officer in uniform but the chief of army staff has no authority to take action against him. The head of ISI was a person from army of which I was head at the relevant time."

During the hearing of the Supreme Court case, General Babar filed an affidavit recording that Rs.140 million was collected by the political cell of the ISI from Younas Habib at the instance of General Beg, the then COAS. When the then head of the ISI, Lt General Asad Durrani, was approached, he provided certain details in an affidavit, but approached the then prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, asking her to 'shelve' the case. The affidavit was obtained by Rahman Malik of the FIA who was sent to Germany, where Durrani was then the Benazir-appointed ambassador, with stamped papers for him to sign. In the affidavit, Durrani confirmed that he had received instructions from COAS General Beg to provide 'logistic support' for the disbursement of donations made by certain 'businessmen of Karachi' to the IJI election campaign of 1990, and was told that the operation had the blessings of the government.

The former attorney-general of Pakistan, Iqbal 'Groovy' Haider, representing General Babar in the Supreme Court, informed the court that the money was distributed not to political parties but to political individuals. It was common knowledge, he said, that the ISI was involved in politics. Lt General Hameed Gul, a former ISI chief, was on record as having boasted that it was he who created the IJI, and another ISI chief, Lt General Javed Nasir, had taken credit for creating the MQM Haqiqi.

Air Marshal Asghar Khan's pending petition involving illegal payoffs and corruption during the run-up to one of our previous elections should be heard now by the Supreme Court before the next round of elections. It will then be up to our honourable election commission to ensure that if any of the personalities involved in the ISI payoff and Mehrangate scandals are filing to stand once again for election to our assemblies they are disqualified from so doing.

This human rights petition has apparently been consigned to the Supreme Court morgue (for whatever reason). The air marshal has consistently written to all our successive chief justices of Pakistan asking that the case be heard, but nothing has happened. The last chief justice to show any interest in hearing the case was Sajjad Ali Shah who prematurely retired in December 1997 after having lost his battle with prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Since then, no chief justice has responded to the air marshal's repeated requests. We must hope that the next request that is being made this coming week will not be ignored by Chief Justice Sheikh Riaz Ahmed, who, in 1994 was the federal law secretary and undoubtedly remembers the SROs he issued in this matter.