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Supreme Court of Pakistan
Supreme Court of Pakistan. — Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD, July 30: The establishment of much-dreaded political cell in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is still shrouded in mystery as the Supreme Court was informed on Monday that the notification concerning its birth had yet to be found.

Attorney General Irfan Qadir said that despite efforts he could not find the notification issued by then chief executive Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1975 to set up a special political cell in the ISI.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, is hearing a 1996 petition of Tehrik-i-Istiqlal chief Air Martial (retd) Asghar Khan who accused the ISI of financing politicians in the 1990 elections by dishing out Rs140 million to create the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) and prevent Benazir Bhutto’s PPP from winning the polls. The petition was based on an affidavit of former ISI chief Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani.

The court asked the attorney general to contact the new defence secretary and check whether the notification was available in the defence ministry.

Advocate Akram Sheikh, representing former army chief Gen (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg, recalled that then cabinet secretary Hassan Raza Pasha had placed on record before a Supreme Court bench certain documents which he had taken back during the proceedings in 1997. The documents might contain the notification about the setting up of the cell, he added.

The attorney general submitted to the court a sealed envelop, claiming confidentiality. The court decided that it would be appropriate not to disclose contents of the documents and ordered its associate to send them to the registrar.

The documents were earlier provided by Gen Durrani shedding light on the working of ISI’s political cell. The documents include facts about the existence of the cell contained in a concise statement he had earlier submitted to the court.

On Monday, Gen Durrani also submitted to the court sealed documents, claiming confidentiality.

But the court returned the documents on the grounds that these could not be treated as supporting documents to substantiate allegations and asked Gen Durrani to keep them in his safe custody unless demanded by the court.

In a statement earlier submitted to the court, Gen Durrani said the amount distributed by him was approximately Rs70 million out of a total of Rs140 million. The remaining amount was deposited in a special ISI fund.

He said he had assigned the job of distributing the money to certain officers of the Military Intelligence who were cognisant that the money was for the election purpose and after doing so they had informed him about its distribution.

The hearing was adjourned for a month.