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ISLAMABAD: The Fede­ral Investigation Agency (FIA) has once again claimed that it is not in a position to prosecute or conduct trial for implementing the court verdict in the Air Marshal Asghar Khan case.

“No sufficient evidence could be found to enable this case for further prosecution and trial in the court of law,” stated an FIA report furnished before the Supreme Court on Monday.

A three-judge SC bench, headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, had taken up the case regarding the imple­mentation of the 2012 court decision pertaining to the 1990 elections when the Inter-Services Intelligence allegedly doled out Rs140 million among politicians.

The apex court at the previous hearing on April 2 had asked the FIA to make another effort and furnish a comprehensive report on implementation of the 2012 verdict after the court had been informed about reluctance especially on the part of certain banks to provide information required for further probe.

Like the FIA, the Ministry of Defence also came up with a report stating that all-out efforts were being made to finalise the proceedings in accordance with rules and regulations. A special court of inquiry was in progress, the ministry claimed, adding that six witnesses had been examined so far. The court of inquiry is being headed by an officer of the rank of lieutenant general, stated the defence ministry report.

Moreover, it added, efforts were under way to trace or call other witnesses including civilians besides all material evidence to be examined by the court of inquiry.

In its fresh report, the FIA stated that an inquiry committee comprising FIA’s Additional Director General Dr Mujeebur Rahman Khan, directors Mujahid Akbar Khan, Syed Fareed Ali and deputy director (law) Chand Ashraf interviewed a number of journalists including Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Shami and Habib Akram, then sector commander of Military Intelligence retired brigadier Hamid Saeed and Advocate Yousaf Memon.

The court, however, rejected the report with a direction to furnish a fresh report within four weeks by removing the loopholes coupled with complete statements of witnesses in a sealed envelope.

The FIA report also provided excerpts of different interviews like in the case of Habib Akram, the report narrated that the anchorperson recalled how former prime minister Benazir Bhutto had allegedly become a security risk in the eyes of the security establishment due to her views about Pakistan’s nuclear programme and her handling of certain operations which brought different institutions into potential conflict with each other.

An election cell was thus established, Mr Akram recalled, at the presidency whose objective was to ensure PPP’s defeat in the upcoming elections.

Then army chief Gen Aslam Beg and Lt Gen Asad Durrani sought help from Younus Habib, then provincial head of Habib Bank Ltd, to raise money for politicians aligned against the PPP, the report cited Akram as saying, adding that the banker set up fake accounts through which money was transferred to those politicians.

On being asked about the source of leakage of this information, Mr Akram replied that this information was leaked by Jam Sadiq Ali – one of the recipients of the money. Later, Gen Durrani also gave a signed affidavit to the government in order to achieve his post-retirement ambition of joining politics and also mentioned Brig Hamid as his source of information.

Similarly, Mr Shami was of the opinion that there were two parties to this episode, the distributors and the recipients. As the distributors admitted to doling out money to influence the election results, they should be proceeded against as per the relevant provisions of law.

Likewise, the report quoted retired Brig Saeed as saying that he was the sector commander of Military Intelligence (MI) in Sindh in 1990 when he was approached by the two generals to deliver money to certain politicians. For this purpose, it added, he opened six accounts in different bank branches in Karachi and money was received in these accounts from GHQ Rawalpindi as per his perception along with instructions about their distributions.

He conceded that a total of Rs140 million was received in the six accounts which were personally operated by him and his second in command Col Ali Akbar. The report stated that he sent back the undistributed money to GHQ and handling officer, Col Eqbal Saeed aka Bala.

However, the former MI sector commander stated that he did not have any information about the disbursement of money as Gen Durrani remarked that this money would be used for a cause “that is very close to our hearts”.

Brig Saeed said this operation was personally supervised by Gen Durrani and he continued to supervise this operation even after he was appointed director general of ISI and even alluded to certain political ambitions of Gen Beg and his collusion with the MQM.

However, Brig Saeed claimed he did not have any knowledge of disbursement of the funds in the Punjab, neither elsewhere, nor the officers involved in that exercise. Moreover, he said Younus Habib also distributed funds to the politicians directly to buy their influence and to further his own business and commercial interest.

Brig Saeed recalled that there was a big hole in the account of HBL, as Younus Habib was encashing foreign currency deposited in the foreign currency accounts by individuals. Since cheques were bounced and even ISI cheques were not honoured, Habib leaked the news to ease out the pressure of agencies on him.

The FIA report contended that summons were also issued to senior journalists Arif Nizami and Nasim Zehra, but they did not appear before the inquiry committee. Likewise, Habib was asked to appear but his brother furnished a signed affidavit that Habib had been admitted to the Aga Khan University (AKU) Hospital in Karachi and could not be interviewed for being in a precarious condition.

About interviews with bankers, the report stated that the FIA approached four heads of the relevant banks for the provision of details of the ‘fake’ bank accounts but none of the banks provided requisite information to the inquiry committee initially.

Therefore, the committee travelled to Karachi and met some authorised representatives of the banks. Some banks provided certain records, while others provided no record.

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2019