ISLAMABAD: The family of the late Air Marshal Asghar Khan on Thursday submitted before the Supreme Court that it opposed the closure of financial scams of the 90s and called for conclusion of the trial against the military personnel involved.

“The late [retired] Air Marshal Asghar Khan endeavoured to cleanse the democratic process of unlawful interference by any person, military or civilian, no matter how highly placed,” said a five-page reply submitted to the court by Advocate Salman Akram Raja on behalf of Mr Khan’s widow Amina Asghar Khan, son Ali Asghar Khan and daughters Nasreen Ahmed Khattak and Shireen Awan.

“This endeavour has not yet achieved fruition and a just end,” the reply said, pleading that the outcome of the trial against the military personnel should be placed before people.

Contends that in the last six years FIA made no attempt to procure documentary or oral evidence from military officers

At the last hearing on Dec 31, the apex court had asked Mr Khan’s heirs to assist it on the legal course that should be adopted, especially when the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had suggested closure of the case.

The FIA had pointed out that the army’s general headquarters was conducting its own probe against the military personnel concerned, but GHQ had yet to inform the investigation agency of the outcome of the probe. Therefore the FIA had no legally acceptable evidence on the basis of which a criminal case could be initiated against the politicians allegedly involved.

The Supreme Court is seized with a case relating to the implementation of its landmark verdict of Oct 19, 2012 in which it had ordered the federal government to initiate necessary action against former army chief Gen retired Aslam Beg and former director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) retired Lt Gen Asad Durrani for their role in dishing out Rs140 million to a particular group of politicians, including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in the general elections of 1990 on a petition filed by Mr Khan.

In 1996 the late Mr Khan had filed the constitutional petition with the apex court, requesting it to look into the allegations that ISI financed many politicians in the 1990 elections by distributing Rs140m among them.

On Thursday, Mr Khan’s family said it was a matter of great importance to it that the late air marshal’s 16-year-long struggle that resulted in the historic judgement of Oct 19, 2012 was not frustrated by the authorities concerned.

The family’s reply said that more than six years after the final judgement in the case, proceedings had been initiated against none of the military personnel involved, including Gen Beg and Lt Gen Durrani, who had confessed to committing wrongdoing in the 1990 elections.

Unless the military or civilian persons involved in the violation of the Constitution and in the corrupt practices identified by the Supreme Court in its judgement were “visited with penal consequences in accordance with the law... the [possible] recurrence of such violations of the Constitution and the commission of corrupt practices will remain a threat to the democratic process in Pakistan”, said the reply.

Meanwhile, it is surprising to note that the name of retired Brig Hamid Saeed Akhtar has not been mentioned by FIA in its report as a person capable of providing documentary or oral evidence relevant to the inquiry. Brig Akhtar had appeared before the court during the course of hearings that culminated in the court’s judgement as he had filed a written statement and had also handed over his personal diary to the court detailing the disbursements made by him to different individuals and institutions.

Over the last six years, the reply contended, no attempt was made by the FIA to procure documentary or oral evidence from Brig Akhtar or any of the other officers like retired Lt Col Eqbal Saeed, retired Col Salman Butt, retired Brig Amanullah Khan and retired Lt Col Amir Akbar Khan. FIA only made half-hearted attempts to approach the other military officers, it said.

Referring to Gen Beg and Lt Gen Durrani, who secured funds from Younus Habib of the now defunct Mehran Bank, the reply said their conduct brought a bad name to Pakistan and its armed forces in the eyes of the nation.

Therefore, notwithstanding that they might have retired from service, the government should take necessary steps under the Constitution and law against them, it added.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2019