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Asghar Khan case: Former MI chief Hamid Saeed submits statement

October 18, 2012

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

ISLAMABAD: During Thursday’s hearing of the petition filed by Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan pertaining to Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) distributing money among politicians, former head of Military Intelligence, Brig (retd) Hamid Saeed appeared before the bench and submitted a written statement in the case, DawnNews reported.

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 the ISI’s former director general Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani.

Saeed — who Durrani alleged had a role in the disbursement of money to politicians — also presented a 21-year-old diary in the court and said it had details of each and every account.

The former MI chief requested the bench to keep his statement’s first eight paragraphs classified.

He said paragraphs nine to 14 of the statement did not need to be kept secret.

Upon which, the chief justice said that it was Saeed’s discretion to keep certain information confidential and directed him to submit that separately.

Moreover, the defence ministry presented a report to the court.

Whereas, the attorney general said that the government had information which was classified and could not be made public.

Upon which, the chief justice said that the government should produce records as per the court’s request. He further said that the court should be provided with the requisite information and that the bench was also in possession of certain classified material.

Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja said bank statements should be produced so that facts of the matter could be ascertained.

The chief justice said Durrani had himself stated that out of Rs140 million, Rs80 million had remained unused, adding that, the amount had been deposited in a special account.

The chief justice reiterated that the bench had ordered a report pertaining to the use of the remaining Rs80 million.

Upon which, the defence ministry’s Director Legal Commander Shahbaz requested the bench to allow him time to consult with Defence Secretary Lt-Gen (retd) Asif Yasin Malik.

In response, Chief Justice Iftikhar said that the defence secretary should have appeared in court as the case was of special significance.

Moreover, during the hearing, Advocate Akram Sheikh, the counsel for former army chief Gen (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg, said that the ISI should be brought under the control of the army to establish transparency.

Sheikh called for the introduction of reforms in the army and said that the court should declare void the government’s notification bringing the ISI under executive control.

In a remark on that statement, Chief Justice Iftikhar said that it was not the job of the court but that of the government, adding that, if anyone could have changed things at the time the money distribution was carried out, it was Beg, Sheikh’s client.

Aslam Beg should have resisted the order, the chief justice said.

Sheikh argued that his client had been administered his oath under the Army Act and not the Constitution, adding that, the former military chief could not be accused of violating the latter.

Also during the hearing, President Asif Ali Zardari's military secretary Brigadier Muhammad Amir said that records were searched for pertaining to a political cell in the President House, adding that, no record could be found of one in the presidency prior to 1990.

The hearing was subsequently adjourned until tomorrow (Friday).