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GIK’s grandson regrets delay in justice

October 23, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Oct 22: Senator Osman Saifullah Khan, a grandson of former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan, said on Monday that the Supreme Court had “summarily executed” the reputation of his late grandfather through its verdict in the Asghar Khan case and he could have defended himself if the case had been heard during his lifetime.

“The inordinate delay in the dispensation of justice denied him justice,” Osman Saifullah, who was elected senator from Islamabad on a PPP ticket in March, said in a statement emailed to Dawn from London.

In its short order on Asghar Khan’s petition filed in 1996, the court held Ghulam Ishaq Khan as the main person responsible for misuse of authority and public exchequer by distributing money among politicians through the ISI to influence the outcome of the 1990 elections and defeat the PPP. The petition did not come up for hearing for more than 13 years and the apex court decided to hold regular hearings earlier this year after criticism from certain quarters, particularly the PPP, over the inordinate delay.

“As the eldest grandson of Ghulam Ishaq Khan (GIK), I have found the events of the past eight months culminating in the recent short order deeply distressing. My grandfather left office (of the president) in 1993 and passed away in 2006, spending the intervening 13 years living quietly in his house in Peshawar. I do so wish that during this time he had been confronted with the allegations against him; that one of our many investigative journalists or one of our political leaders had drawn on their reserves of courage and pointed an accusatory finger in his direction; or that the honourable Supreme Court had taken up the petition in the decade that it remained pending and he remained alive. His reputation has summarily been executed.

“It was a reputation acknowledged by men as different as Field Marshal Ayub Khan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Gen Ziaul Haq. It was a reputation that led to Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the architect of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, entrusting him with the task of shepherding funding for this momentous undertaking. My grandfather brought to this task the same fiduciary sense he displayed throughout the rest of his long career.”

The senator said his grandfather was the only Pakistani to chair the World Bank’s development committee and he left the Presidency quietly, choosing to retreat to a quiet life in his own country, never benefiting financially or otherwise from his status as a former head of state. “He was a president whose only son toiled away in obscurity during his presidency. There was to be no mercurial building up of assets with a father like Ghulam Ishaq Khan,” he said.

“I have no facts to offer in his defence because he never discussed affairs of state with his family. He took very seriously the oaths of office that he took,” Mr Khan said.

The PPP senator said GIK might have made mistakes. “But as much as I knew him, there is no way, no way at all, a person of his conscience could condone, let alone suggest, such a blatant misuse of public funds,” he said.

“I do wish he had been given a chance to defend himself. My grandfather was a quiet, soft-spoken man. But even quiet people have the right to be heard,” he said.

Mr Khan said there was “much to be praised in the Supreme Court’s order which reminds us that all citizens of Pakistan are bound to act in accordance with our Constitution”.

After the judgment, the senator said, it should be clear that it was the people of Pakistan alone, acting through their elected representatives, who determined what was and what was not in the national interest.

“Neither the army nor the Supreme Court can claim this right. And of course, if it is proved that money was indeed used to tilt the playing field against the PPP, then it acknowledges the wrong that was done to Pakistan’s largest political party and to the will of its voters.”