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Asghar Khan Case: SC summons record of political cell

16 October, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry Monday said that the President—a symbol of the federation forms any political group, then it would be a misfortune.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has been hearing the 1996 petition filed by Asghar Khan who had accused the ISI of financing politicians in the 1990 elections by dishing out Rs140 million to create the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) and prevent Benazir Bhutto's PPP from winning the polls.

The petition was based on an affidavit of former ISI chief Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani.

During the hearing, President Asif Ali Zardari's secretary, Malik Asif Hayat appeared before the bench. Hayat said the case was old and a response would be filed over it as soon as the records were recovered.

Justice Jawwad Khawaja inquired of the president's secretary as to whether a political cell was currently operating in the President House.

Upon which, Hayat said that to the best of his knowledge there is no political cell in the President House now. In the past President House was in Rawalpindi also and about the existence of such cell in the past could only be said after checking the records. He further said that a response could be filed before the bench once complete records had been recovered.

Moreover, former bureaucrat Roedad Khan submitted his written response before the bench. Khan, in his response, asked why his name was being dragged into an old case, adding that, he had no idea whether or not a political cell was operating in the President House. The former bureaucrat further said that he was ready to go to Adiyala prison if it could be proven that he was aware of any political activity in the President House.

Justice Khawaja said it still needed to be determined what relation the political cell had with the President House and the facts about it coming to the fore would be beneficial for the country. A political cell was set up in ISI and we are looking for its root, he said.

Khan told the court that Durrani's statements were not based on facts, adding that, he (Khan) had never met with Aslam Beg.

Durrani told the bench that Ghulam Ishaq Khan had ordered the distribution in the greater national interest.

Upon which, the chief justice asked what he meant by the term "national interest", adding that, the idea of national interest must not be abused. He further remarked as to how could the manipulation of an election to ensure the defeat of a certain political party be in the greater national interest.

The chief justice said the president should not act as a party as the head of state was the symbol of the federation.

Chief Justice Iftikhar said it was the people's authority to empower a political party, adding that, what Durrani did was unconstitutional and a violation of his oath.

Durrani said whatever was done, was done under orders from above and he was admitting to the responsibility as that was in the greater national interest. He further said that Brig (Rtd) Hamid Saeed Akhtar also had a role in the distribution of money.

Justice Khawaja asked him to assist the court by providing more information relating to Hamid, may be a notice be served to him.

Asghar Khan's lawyer Salman Raja said that former army chief Waheed Kakar wrote the former Gen. Aslam Beg and Assad Durrani have tried to involve the army.

Chief Justice said that national interest is that the army should guard the borders and who has to be brought in power that is the exclusive right of the people. Why to blame Army and ISI for any one person---President is the head of the state not of the IJI---elections should be held transparent. Today, the parliament and the judiciary are working---many things have come clear—what is the role of the institutions that has to be decided—we are moving towards it. The hearing is still underway.

End.

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