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

ISLAMABAD: During Tuesday’s hearing of the petition filed by Air Martial (retd) Asghar Khan pertaining to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) distributing money among politicians, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said the greater national interest lay in the continuation of the democratic process, DawnNews reported.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar, has been hearing the 1996 petition filed by 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 Durrani.

The chief justice said no IJI would be formed again and only that would be done which the Constitution permitted.

Chief Justice Iftikhar further said that that which happened in the past could not be forgotten, adding that, attempts had been made to distort the spirit of the Constitution.

He said difficult decisions needed to be taken to protect democracy and the country's Constitution.

The chief justice moreover remarked that the Asghar Khan case was very significant after the confessions of some of those who had been made party in it, adding that, decisions would be taken on a number of matters.

Earlier during the hearing, Chief Justice Iftikhar remarked that the position of the president was extremely significant and it was unfortunate that a former president was involved in such activities.

The chief justice further said that the bench was awaiting a response from the office of the president as to whether or not there were any records pertaining to the matter and if the response would be a negative, then the court may consider summoning Ijlal Haider Zaidi, a member of the election cell that Durrani had alleged had been constituted in the presidency at the time on the instructions of then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan.

Counsel for Asghar Khan, Salman Akram Raja, presented a summary of “the facts pertaining to the case”.

Raja said the disbursement of funds was a joint operation and accounts belonging to the Military Intelligence (MI) were also employed during its execution.

Upon which, the chief justice said that the fact that Brigadier Hamid Saeed – who Durrani previously alleged had a role in the distribution of money – had opened an account did not imply that the MI was involved in the operation.

The counsel further alleged that for the operation, the ISI was controlling the accounts of the MI.

Raja said former ISI chief Durrani, who was in charge of the operation, had admitted that the accounts had been opened on his orders.

The counsel moreover stated: “It has been established that seven out of rupees 14 crores had been distributed among politicians”.