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Asghar Khan and PNA’s funding

October 25, 2012

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PROF Ghafoor Ahmad was one of the team members of Pakistan National Alliance that negotiated with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for holding new and fresh elections after the opposition had refused to accept the outcome of March 1977 general elections held by the PPP government.

He writes in his book, ‘Phir Marshal Law Agya’, that when almost an agreement had been reached, the team received a message from Air Marshal Asghar Khan, who was a member of the alliance, not to go into agreement with Bhutto and guaranteed that the army would hold elections within 90 days.

The army toppled the Bhutto government the same night, imposed martial law in the country and assumed power.

Earlier, the air marshal had also written a letter to the army chief Gen Ziaul Haq to intervene and take over the power from Bhutto. After imposition of martial law, the air marshal withdrew himself from the front line of the PNA and took a back seat.

Gen Zia in spite of his promise on an ‘oath’ did not hold elections for a number of years and remained in power till August 1988 when he died in an air crash. Bhutto was accused of using government funds in his election campaign by the opposition but in spite of Bhutto’s repeated allegation it never came out in the open from where the alliance of nine political parties got the funds to fight an expensive elections and civil disobedience campaign for months.

We all are very grateful to the air marshal for pursuing his petition in the Supreme Court for nearly 17 years and to bring the distribution of Mehran Bank’s Rs140 million among politicians in the 1990 general elections in the open.

However, in view of his prominent position in the PNA, let him also explain the source of funding of the PNA and his own ‘role’ in the PNA.

For a few years, he was also associated with ‘friends’ of Gen Aslam Beg who is alleged to have used the undistributed part of Mehran Bank’s monies for his political activities after retirement. Let us hear all about it before it is too late.

ANWAR KHALIL SHEIKH Lahore

Renaming GIKI AS a minister, Ghulam Ishaq Khan managed to convince the BCCI people and others to put their funds into a technology institute in the NWFP. This was later to be named after him courtesy of sycophants in the government and the planning body of the institute. While president Ghulam Ishaq Khan remained the guiding light of the institute’s board, it was during this period that he worked to derail the PPP government headed by Benazir Bhutto. All means were used for this, among them the involvement of the top army brass, to manipulate the elections through misuse of secret funds. The wily chief minister of Sindh, Jam Sadiq Ali, also came handy in carrying out the dirty deeds. Also, Ghulam Ishaq Khan’s son-in-law Ehsanullah Marwat, who was then in Sindh’s cabinet, later achieved greater notoriety in a much-publicised case of rape against him, which he dodged without any punishment. Soon after the institute was named, I wrote many letters and op-eds to Dawn and other publications, disapproving that Ghulam Ishaq Khan should be honoured by naming an institute after him. A conservative member of the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology (GIKI) board and an alumnus came up with the excuse that GIKI had ‘brand recognition’ and, therefore, it would not be wise to change the title. This lame excuse has now surely vapourised in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to try all those involved in the Asghar Khan case. Surely, the mastermind, the instigator of the army men on the ground, ought to be tried posthumously. An apt outcome would be to immediately remove his name from the reputable institute in Topi. For this, the ANP government should approach President Asif Ali Zardari, who is the university’s chancellor by virtue of him being the president, to approve it. This, however, does not mean that the name be changed to that of his late wife. Q. ISA DAUDPOTA    Islamabad