General

CJP directs federal cabinet to decide Asghar Khan case follow-up in a week

Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar gave the federal government on Tuesday a week’s time to summon a cabinet meeting to determine what action to take in light of the 2012 Asghar Khan case verdict.
The attorney general (AG) and head of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) appeared before the Supreme Court today over the implementation, or lack thereof, of the apex court’s verdict in the case filed by the late former air chief, Asghar Khan.
As the hearing went under way, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar remarked that the court has given its order in the case and rejected review petitions of former army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg and former Inter-Services Intelligence DG Lieutenant General Asad Durrani, accused of illegally influencing the 1990 elections.
Now, the implementation of the verdict remains, the chief justice asserted.
“To-date the federal government did not do anything,” he regretted, adding that the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) probe after the verdict also ceased after a certain point.
The chief justice directed the federal government to implement the court’s earlier verdict and decide what action has to be taken against the accused in the case.
Chief Justice Nisar observed that it is the government’s job to determine in which court former army officers are to be tried.
He remarked that the federal government had decided to initiate a treason trial against former president and army chief General Pervez Musharraf.
Appearing before the court, the attorney general (AG) said the FIA will now record statements of the former generals.
However, the AG contended that the treason trial will commence after the FIA investigation.
Salman Akram Raja, who represented the late petitioner in the case, argued that the retired generals will face action whereas investigations will be held against the others.
During the hearing, the chief justice also admonished lawyers, including Raja, for commenting on ongoing court cases on television, terming it contempt of court.
After Raja apologised, the chief justice remarked that this not about one case but pertains to every counsel.
On Monday, the Supreme Court had rejected the review petitions of the former generals against the 2012 verdict.
Dismissing the review pleas, the court had issued a notice to the AG and FIA DG to inform it of the implementation of the verdict.
Moreover, sources said on Tuesday that the FIA has decided to summon the former generals in the case to present evidence of providing money to politicians for the 1990 elections.
Sources claimed the FIA is also expected to make a new committee to probe the case in light of the apex court’s orders.
Case history
On October 19, 2012, the apex court had issued a 141-page verdict, ordering legal proceedings against Gen (retd) Beg and Lt Gen (retd) Durrani in a case filed 16 years ago by former air chief Air Marshal Asghar Khan.
Khan, who passed away in January this year, was represented in the Supreme Court by renowned lawyer Salman Akram Raja.
Khan had petitioned the Supreme Court in 1996 alleging that the two senior army officers and the then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan had doled out Rs140 million among several politicians ahead of the 1990 polls to ensure Benazir Bhutto’s defeat in the polls.
The Islamic Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), consisting of nine parties including the Pakistan Muslim League, National Peoples Party and Jamaat-e-Islami, had won the 1990 elections, with Nawaz Sharif being elected prime minister. The alliance had been formed to oppose the Benazir Bhutto-led Pakistan Peoples Party.
In 1996, Khan had written a letter to the then Supreme Court Chief Justice Nasim Hassan Shah naming Beg, Durrani and Younis Habib, the ex-Habib Bank Sindh chief and owner of Mehran Bank, about the unlawful disbursement of public money and its misuse for political purposes.
The 2012 apex court judgment, authored by the then-Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry, had directed the Federal Investigation Agency to initiate a transparent investigation and subsequent trial if sufficient evidence is found against the former army officers.
That investigation is yet to conclude.