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LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the country’s institutions to cooperate with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in its task of probing allegations in the Asghar Khan case and directed FIA Director General Bashir Memon to continue in his current post till the investigation is complete.

“The court cannot tolerate further delay in the probe,” Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar told him, and ordered him to complete the investigation without delay.

Veteran politicians Javed Hashmi, Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Syeda Abida Hussain and Mir Hasil Bizenjo, and former ISI chief Asad Durrani, among others, appeared before a three-judge bench led by the chief justice at the Supreme Court’s Lahore Registry on Tuesday. The court was hearing a plea seeking implementation of the 2012 judgement in the Asghar Khan case authored by then chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

SC urges country’s institutions to cooperate with FIA

At the outset of the hearing, the FIA director told the court that ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif had earlier recorded his statement in the case. He added that 18 others, including retired General Aslam Beg, retired Lt Gen Asad Durrani, Abida Hussain, Farid Paracha, Mustafa Khar and Altaf Qureshi, had also recorded their statements. The chief justice observed that anyone summoned by the FIA in the case had to appear before it.

While speaking to Mr Hashmi, CJP Nisar recalled one of his earlier statements, in which the veteran politician had claimed that the chief justice could never win an election, even if he contested it from his home ground (Bhatti Gate).

“I am not supposed to contest elections but to protect the Constitution,” the chief justice said. To which Mr Hashmi responded saying: “I respect you from my heart.”

Mr Hashmi added that he had languished in jail for six years during the military rule of former president retired General Pervez Musharraf. “Nothing was established against me and Musharraf had to release me,” he said.

Mr Hashmi complained that the Supreme Court had offered protection to the former military dictator who had abrogated the Constitution twice. He said the apex court had also done this before.

He said the election process was being sabotaged and certain politicians were being pressurised. “[However] we will not be afraid, but will fully participate in the election,” he said firmly.

CJP Nisar, however, observed that the court had only removed certain hurdles to pave the way for Mr Musharraf’s return to the country. It remained to be seen whether the former dictator would be brave enough to return and face the law, said the chief justice, who then advised Mr Musharraf not to issue statements from abroad but to return to the country and prove his innocence.

Mr Hashmi also objected to the presence of Advocate Yousaf Memon, who was allegedly involved in the Asghar Khan case, in the court. He claimed that the FIA had kept Advocate Memon in hiding for six years and had brought him out all of a sudden.

Mr Hashmi raised doubts over the impartiality of the FIA, and said that a fair probe could not be held in the prevailing circumstances.

When questioned by the chief justice, Advocate Memon said he was a lawyer, and added that he had received a court’s notice to appear in the Asghar Khan case. The FIA director then told the court that certain politicians had been given money through Yousaf Memon. However, Chief Justice Nisar asked Mr Memon to leave the rostrum.

Speaking at the hearing, Mr Khar said it was the only politicians who were being humiliated and stigmatised in the country. It was quite unclear who was anti-state and who was loyal, he added.

Chief Justice Nisar observed that the purpose of the probe was not to defame or harass anyone.

Separately, Mr Bizenjo told the court that he had no connection with the Asghar Khan case. CJP Nisar said all politicians from Balochistan were respectable and that he also had special love for the province. He told the politicians to bear in mind that there would be no injustice with anyone.

Representing Jamaat-i-Islami, senior lawyer Hafiz Abdul Rehman Ansari urged the chief justice to do the country a favour and end the role of intelligence agencies in the country’s politics.

But then the chief justice asked the counsel to point out if there was any role of agencies in the working of the courts. He said the politicians should grow stronger than the agencies, and the judiciary would protect them.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2018

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