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FIA not to summon Nawaz Sharif in Asghar Khan case

23 May, 2018

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LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has decided in principle not to summon former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Asghar Khan case till it gets “concrete evidence” against him for receiving money from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the 1990 elections to stop Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party from coming to power.

“The FIA’s committee for implementation of the Supreme Court’s Oct 19, 2012 judgement in the Asghar Khan case will not summon Nawaz Sharif till it gets some solid evidence against him for his alleged involvement in receiving money from the intelligence agencies in the 1990 elections,” a source privy to the development told Dawn on Tuesday.

He said the FIA team would record statements of the officials of the intelligence agencies involved in this case and if “some concrete evidence” was found, it (FIA) would confront the former premier (Nawaz) with it.

“Otherwise, the FIA will use his (Nawaz) earlier statement he recorded with it a few years ago in which he had denied receiving money (from the intelligence agencies in the 1990 elections),” he added.

Mr Sharif had appeared before a four-member FIA team probing the Asghar Khan case in 2015 and recorded his statement.

The current implementation committee is headed by FIA Additional Director General Ehsan Sadiq. The Supreme Court had ordered Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf and the FIA director general on May 7 to inform it about the progress made to implement its verdict in the Asghar Khan case.

The FIA team had last week recorded the statements of former army chief retired Gen Mirza Aslam Baig and former ISI chief retired Lt Gen Asad Durrani. Earlier, both generals had refused to answer queries of the FIA team, saying their review petitions were pending before the court.

“In the coming days the FIA committee will summon the intelligence agencies’ officials involved in the case and seek documentary evidence regarding distribution of money among the politicians and others,” the source said.

The Supreme Court had in October 2012 ordered legal proceedings against the ex-ISI head and the former army chief over allegations that politicians were bankrolled to stop the PPP from coming to power after winning the 1990 elections.

The court’s decision came 16 years after retired Air Marshal Asghar Khan filed a petition 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 (IJI) and stop Benazir Bhutto’s PPP from coming to power. The petition was based on an affidavit of Gen Durrani.

A three-judge SC bench comprising then chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain had ruled in its short order that there was “ample evidence” to suggest that the 1990 elections were rigged and that a political cell maintained by then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan had supported the formation of the IJI.

“Late Ghulam Ishaq Khan, retired Gen Aslam Baig and retired Gen Asad Durrani acted in violation of the Constitution,” said the verdict, adding that the federal government should take “necessary steps under the Constitution and law against them”.

The apex court had ordered the government to take legal action against the retired generals involved in corruption as well as against Younus Habib, former president of the now defunct Mehran Bank.

The court further ordered that the money illegally disbursed among the politicians by the then president and the ISI be recovered and deposited in Habib Bank, along with the accumulated interest on it. “Legal action should also be taken against the politicians who received the money.

Legal proceedings shall be initiated against the politicians, who allegedly have received donations to spend on election campaigns in the general election of 1990, and a transparent investigation into the criminal side shall be initiated by the FIA against all of them,” the order had said.

In compliance with the apex court’s order, the FIA had launched a probe into the Asghar Khan case by the end of 2013. An FIA committee headed by Ghalib Bandesha and comprising Dr Usman Anwar, Qudratullah Murawat and Najaf Mirza had then recorded the statements of Nawaz Sharif, Asghar Khan, Younis Habib, advocate Yousuf Memon, veteran politician Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, former Sindh chief ministers Dr Arbab Ghulam Raheem and Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah, Altaf Hassan Qureshi of Urdu Digest, politician Syeda Abida Hussain, former governor Ghulam Mustafa Khar and others.

All politicians, including Mr Sharif, in their statements had denied receiving any money from the ISI or else.

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