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ISLAMABAD: As the Supreme Court is set to commence hearing in the Asghar Khan case from Monday, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has told the court that its investigation into the financial scams that hit the 1990 general elections has reached a dead end.

“The FIA has sincerely tried to unearth the facts and bring truth to light, but the investigation has reached a dead end …. and it seeks guidance and help from the apex court so that sufficient evidence can be gathered,” says a report furnished before the Supreme Court on Saturday.

A three-judge bench comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan will take up on Feb 11 the case related to the implementation of the landmark 2012 judgement in the Asghar Khan case.

In the judgement the Supreme Court had asked the federal government to take necessary action under the law against former army chief retired Gen Aslam Beg and former director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) retired Lt Gen Asad Durrani for their role in facilitating a group of politicians and political parties to ensure their success in the 1990 elections by dishing out Rs140 million to a particular group of politicians, including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Informs apex court probe has reached dead end

The FIA pleads in its report that it has left no stone unturned to trace the evidence related to alleged disbursement of money among politicians and that all important witnesses, including retired Brig Hamid Saeed who earlier indicated that the payments were made to different politicians as per the directives of retired Lt Gen Durrani, now say that they do not remember the names of the politicians.

Moreover, the bank records were also scrutinised and statements of bank officers concerned were recorded and even politicians were interviewed.

Likewise, assistance and information from the Pakistan Elec­tronic Media Regulatory Authority and the National Accountability Bureau were sought and more than 190 television programmes were analysed and even the defence ministry was requested to provide information regarding the required details to find necessary evidence.

But, unfortunately, the investigation cannot reach logical conclusion, the report says, regretting that no army office has given any statement about directly handing over money to any private person.

According to the report, documents provided by retired Brig Saeed however show that money was distributed in Sindh but the officials who actually distributed the money were not disclosed by him.

Moreover, the receipts of receiving money by the politicians, as mentioned by retired Brig Saeed, have not been provided to the FIA and, according to him, these receipts were sent to GHQ.

But upon asking by the FIA, Asad Durrani denied having information of any such receipts, the report says.

Besides, the intelligence agency team responsible for distribution of funds in Punjab and elsewhere could not be identified though the FIA asked the defence ministry about whereabouts of the intelligence agency personnel.

Besides, the report says, details of certain bank accounts, which would complete the money trail required for prosecution purposes, have not been provided to the FIA.

Since army/intelligence officials were primarily responsible for distribution of money among politicians, therefore splitting the investigation into two i.e. army and civil creates practical difficulties for a civilian agency during the investigations, it says.

The report recalls that all accused politicians who were associated with the inquiry proceedings have denied the allegations of receiving any money from the army or the ISI.

In 1996, retired air marshal Asghar Khan, who had formed the Tehreek-i-Istiqlal but now is deceased, had filed a petition in the Supreme Court, requesting it to look into the allegations that the ISI financed many politicians in the 1990 elections by dishing out Rs140 million among them.

In its response, the family of Asghar Khan has contended that it is the matter of immense concern to them that the 16-year-long struggle that he carried out resulting in the historic judgement of Oct 19, 2012 of the apex court is being frustrated by the authorities concerned.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2019