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Asghar Khan's heirs oppose FIA's suggestion to close 2012 case

Updated January 10, 2019

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Late Asghar Khan. — File
Late Asghar Khan. — File

Late Asghar Khan's legal heirs on Thursday submitted their joint reply to a notice in connection with the implementation of the landmark 2012 verdict in the Asghar Khan case, asking that an inquiry in accordance with the Supreme Court's six-year-old order be continued.

The apex court had issued a notice to the heirs of the late Asghar Khan after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) last month suggested that the case relating to the implementation of the 2012 verdict be closed.

The 2012 SC verdict was issued on a petition filed in 1996 by Asghar Khan, requesting the top court to look into allegations that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had secretly bankrolled many politicians in the 1990 elections by dishing out Rs140 million.

In the latest development, Khan's wife Amina Asghar Khan, his daughters Nasreen Ahmed Khattak and Sheereen Awan, and son Ali opposed the FIA's suggestion and highlighted what they perceived to be halfhearted efforts of the authorities.

"The late air marshal, Asghar Khan endeavored to cleanse the democratic process from unlawful interference by any person, military or civilian, no matter highly placed. This endeavor has not yet achieved fruition and a just end. Consequently, the family of late air marshal Asghar Khan seeks to continue his endeavor and opposes the closure of the inquiry sought by the FIA," said the written reply.

The family also sought conclusion of the trial against the military personal involved and the placement of the result of the trial before the people of Pakistan.

Citing the FIA's progress in the case, the reply mentioned it was clear that "no attempt has been made by the FIA to approach for evidence the central figure retired Brig Hamid Saeed Akhtar, who had confessed before the court his personal role in carrying out the unlawful operation regarding disbursement of funds" to various politicians and institutions before the general election of 1990.

The joint reply claimed that the Ministry of Defence did not support the FIA in execution of the court orders. "In these circumstances, the request to close the inquiry and the case is unwarranted," it added.

Additionally, the family members expressed their concerns that "more than six years after the final judgement of the apex court, proceedings against none of the military personnel involved in the matter, including retd Gen Aslam Baig and retd Gen Asad Durrani who had confessed their wrongdoing against the Constitution and the law, have been concluded".

On Dec 29, 2018, the FIA had suggested that the apex court close the case relating to the implementation of the Asghar Khan verdict for want of concrete evidence. A report furnished before the court by the FIA stated that the authorities did not have enough evidence to launch a criminal prosecution against the individuals named in the judgement.

According to the FIA report, 18 politicians in their statements submitted in the SC denied receiving the funds to allegedly manipulate the 1990 polls.

The agency contended that the statements of witnesses recorded in the case so far had gaps and did not correlate with each other. Moreover, the investigation agency has also remained unsuccessful in securing financial records from the relevant banks since the matter is 24 years old.

Asghar Khan case

In 1996, Asghar Khan had filed a human rights petition in the SC, accusing the 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 claimed in the National Assembly in 1994 that 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.

Sixteen 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 Rs140m 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 retired Gen Mirza Aslam Beg and former director general of ISI retired Lt Gen Asad Durrani for their role in facilitating the group of politicians and political parties to ensure their success against their rivals in the 1990 elections.

On May 7 last year, the SC bench had rejected Beg and Durrani's petitions to review the October 19, 2012 apex court verdict in the Asghar Khan case.