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The Supreme Court (SC) on Saturday issued notices to 21 people including politicians and army officials that are connected to the Asghar Khan case.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif; politicians Javed Hashmi and Abida Hussain; and retired Lt Gen Asad Durrani are among the group of politicians and army officials being issued legal notices. Officials of National Accountability Bureau and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) were also issued notices by the court.

During a hearing of the case in the SC Lahore registry today, Chief Justice (CJ) Mian Saqib Nisar asked the Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Ashtar Ausaf if the cabinet had decided to implement the court's verdict issued in the case in 2012. The AGP responded in the affirmative, saying that the former government had decided to act upon the court's decision and had directed the FIA to continue the investigation.

The CJ also asked how the cabinet planned to recover the money that had been spent on rigging the elections in 1990. Ausaf, however, did not give a specific answer and requested the CJ to seal the report of the cabinet meeting that he had submitted to the court as it was confidential. Justice Nisar granted this request.

In 2012, the apex court had ordered the federal government to take necessary legal action against Durrani and retired Gen Aslam Beg for their role in 'facilitating' a group of politicians and political parties to ensure their success in the 1990 elections, by paying them millions of rupees.

The hearing of the case was adjourned until June 6.

Asghar Khan case

In 1996, Air Marshal Khan had filed a human rights petition in the SC of Pakistan, accusing the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of doling out money to a group of politicians in the 1990s.

The case was initiated by the air marshal after Benazir Bhutto's interior minister, retired general Naseerullah Babar, had disclosed in the National Assembly in 1994 how the ISI had disbursed funds to purchase the loyalty of politicians and public figures so as to manipulate the 1990 elections, form the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), and bring about the defeat of the PPP.

16 years after the petition was filed, the SC in its judgement — penned by then chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry — ruled that the 1990 general elections had been polluted by dishing out Rs140 million to a particular group of politicians only to deprive the people of being represented by their chosen representatives.

The court had, however, thrown the ball back to the then PPP government by directing it to take necessary action under the Constitution and law against former army chief Beg and former director general of ISI Durrani for their role in facilitating the group of politicians and political parties to ensure their success against their rivals in the 1990 elections.

In May 2017, PTI had announced its decision to file in the Supreme Court a petition seeking implementation of the orders of the already decided case.