ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court reiterated on Wednesday that presidents should never support a particular political group because their post was a symbol of the federation.
“The presidents inside the presidency are presidents for the entire country and are under oath not to discriminate against any party as was done in the 1990s when a group of political parties (IJI) was created on the support of the then president,” observed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.
The observation came when Secretary to the President Malik Asif Hayat submitted a statement denying that any political cell was currently operating in the President House.
A three-judge bench comprising the chief justice, Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain is seized with a petition filed in 1996 by Tehrik-i-Istiqlal chief Asghar Khan requesting the court to look into allegations that the ISI had financed many politicians in the 1990 elections by dishing out Rs140 million to create the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad and stop Benazir Bhutto’s PPP from coming to power.
The petition was based on an affidavit of ISI’s former director general Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani.
The court hinted at closing the proceedings by Thursday and observed that had former army chief Gen (retd) Aslam Beg realised the consequences of political interference, military interventions, like those of Oct 12, 1999 and Nov 3, 2007, could have been avoided.
Brig (retd) Hamid Saeed, the former head of Military Intelligence (MI), may appear before the court on Thursday when it was informed by the registrar that he had reached Islamabad and a notice had been issued to him.
The court noted that the presidency’s statement showed that an election cell was operating in the presidency in the 1990s, but no such cell existed after 2008.
“This creates a doubt that prior to 2008 such cell was there in the President House,” the court observed. It asked the president’s secretary to submit another reply after thoroughly searching the official record.
The court ordered the legal director of the defence ministry, Commander Shahbaz, to submit by Thursday details of five accounts, known as “S” accounts (survey and construction), of the Military Intelligence in which Rs80 million had been deposited in 1990.
In his affidavit submitted to the court, Gen Asad Durrani had claimed that out of Rs140 million only Rs60 million had been distributed among different political parties and politicians.
The remaining Rs50 million was deposited in the “S” accounts and Rs30 million transferred to the account of “Friends”, an organisation owned by General Aslam Beg.
The court recalled that late Gen (retd) Asif Nawaz Janjua had also objected to the transfer of the money to the Friends’ account.
Salman Akram Raja, the counsel for Asghar Khan, cited the statement of former interior minister Lt-Gen (retd) Naseerullah Babar who had claimed that the remaining money had been transferred to GHQ’s welfare funds.
Advocate Akram Sheikh, representing Gen Aslam Beg, contended that the court had no power under Article 183 of the Constitution to proceed against army officials. Only the army chief could initiate action against them.
He argued that the case was based on disputed facts in which everything was controversial and not cross-examined.
But the court said it was an admitted fact that Gen Beg was aware of activities about the funding of IJI. “The case has become simple and all of us should assist each other so that institutions in future work independently without interference,” the court observed.