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Asghar Khan petition: President made respondent

October 04, 2012

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

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday granted a request by Askhar Khan's counsel, Salman Akram Raja, to make President Asif Ali Zardari a respondent in the petition pertaining to the distribution of money among politicians by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), DawnNews reported.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, has been hearing the 1996 petition filed by Tehrik-i-Istiqlal chief Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan who had 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 bench today granted Raja’s request to make the president a respondent in the case through Salman Farooqi, the president’s principal secretary, or through the president’s secretary in charge.

A notice was also issued to the president through the principal secretary.

Raja said he wanted the office, and not the person, of the president to be made a respondent in the case.

In his remarks, Chief Justice Iftikhar said that the President House should not be used for political activities as the president was the country's constitutional head as well as the supreme commander of the armed forces.

The chief justice said that the objective of a political cell in the President House could only be to ensure a victory in the elections, adding that, time and again during the hearing, officials had said that the President House at the time was issuing directions pertaining to political manipulation.

Chief Justice Iftikhar said that no political cell should exist in the President House, adding that, the President House had been involved in political activities in the past.

Moreover, Justice Hussain said that a politically-involved president would eventually affect the state’s institutions.

Earlier, during today’s hearing, the defence ministry stuck to its denial over the question of the existence of a political cell in the ISI.

The ministry submitted its statement, signed by Secretary Defence Lt-Gen (retd) Asif Yasin Malik, stating that at present no political cell was operating in any of its subordinate departments.

The chief justice asked defence ministry’s Director Legal Commander Shahbaz whether a political cell existed in the ISI in the past. Responding to which, Shahbaz said that there was a body in the intelligence agency pertaining to political activity in the past which was no longer operational.

Shahbaz moreover informed the bench that the ministry had appointed the deputy attorney general to represent it in future hearings of the case. Moreover, today, both the defence secretary and Interior Secretary K.M. Siddiq Akbar appeared before the bench and denied the idea of the existence of a political cell in the ISI.

Attorney General Irfan Qadir remained absent from the hearing upon which the court expressed its displeasure.

The hearing was adjourned to Oct 15.