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Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, a PML-N member and leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-N came out on Sunday with a clear stance on the Supreme Court verdict in the Asghar Khan case and said it accepted the decision but rejected an investigation by the FIA into distribution of money by the ISI among politicians in 1990.

Two days after the court decision which declared that the 1990 elections had been “polluted”, party stalwart and Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said at a press conference that his party wanted investigations through an “independent judicial commission” and not by the FIA which was under the control of the ministry headed by Rehman Malik.

“We accept the SC decision in letter and spirit and are ready to cooperate, but a probe through the FIA is totally unacceptable,” said Chaudhry Nisar, whose party was part of the nine-party Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) that was formed and supported by the then military establishment in a bid to defeat the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in the polls.

He expressed surprise over the SC move to give responsibility of the investigation to the FIA despite knowing its “performance” over the past four years. He questioned the FIA’s role in investigations into various corruption scams. “Did the FIA carry out a transparent probe into the NICL, OGDCL and Haj scams,” he appeared to be asking the SC.

He termed the SC verdict a “welcome development” and expressed the hope that it would curtail (intelligence) agencies’ role in future elections.

But he voiced “reservations” over paragraph 14 of the judgment in which the government had been directed to carry out an investigation through the FIA into allegations against politicians, including Nawaz Sharif, of having received money from the ISI prior to the 1990 elections.

Without saying anything about composition of the judicial commission proposed by his party, Chaudhry Nisar said the PML-N could approach the court on the issue, if needed. “We are ready to face accountability. However, the SC (in its verdict) has called for a transparent inquiry which is not possible through the FIA,” he said.

He said the proposed commission should investigate the role of the agencies since the time former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, according to him, approved the setting up of a political wing in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

“There should be an open trial. Nothing should be kept secret so that people should know who had given money to whom,” he said.

Seemingly disturbed over the attacks on the PML-N from different directions after the verdict, he asked the opponents to stop “media trial” merely on the basis of allegations.

Citing paragraph 8 of the judgment, he said that a floodgate of criticism had been opened against the PML-N although the SC had restrained itself from making any “adverse order” against the politicians who had been accused of having received Rs60 million from the ISI “without a thorough probe”.

He said PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf chief Imran Khan and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf were trying to politically exploit the SC decision by maligning the PML-N. “For the past 48 hours, all guns are blazing at the party,” he said.

Defending his leader Nawaz Sharif, he said the PML-N did not even exist during the 1990 elections and Mr Sharif was then a member of the PML headed by former prime minister Mohammad Khan Junejo. He agreed that Mr Sharif headed the IJI at that time, “but by virtue of rotation of the presidency and not by choice”.

When asked why the PML-N did not approach the SC on its own like the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) which had submitted an affidavit stating that it had not received any money, Chaudhry Nisar said the PML-N had not done so after consultations with legal experts. He termed the PML-N move a correct decision and said the JI initiative had produced no results as the SC had not cleared it in its judgment.

The opposition leader said everyone knew how former dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf created the PML-Q by making generous offers to the PML-N members in 2002, adding that Gen Musharraf had admitted this in his book.

He alleged that misuse of Presidency, as mentioned by the SC in its verdict, was still going on and President Asif Ali Zardari was channelling public money to support his PPP. On the one hand, he said, PPP leaders were criticising them on the basis of the judgment and, on the other, they said the President would continue his political activities.

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