JUN 13, 2018 — The defense ministry has expressed willingness to prosecute several former army officers for distributing millions of rupees to anti-PPP politicians in the general elections of 1990. The political engineering had led to PML-N Supremo Mian Nawaz Sharif’s obtaining his first victory toward getting elected as the country’s Prime Minister.
The military officers at that time who were involved in the manipulation were former army chief General (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg, former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant General (retd) Asad Durrani, Brig (retd) Hameed Saeed Akhtar, and Lt Gen (retd) Rafat.
The defense ministry submitted a one-page reply in the apex court, wherein it is stated that military authorities are willing to proceed against officers involved in the illegal act, a senior official told The Express Tribune.
The Supreme Court last week had asked the defense ministry to submit a reply regarding the ex-army men involved. The bench had also issued notices to politicians and political parties named in the Asghar Khan Case verdict given by the country’s top court in 2012 on the infamous 1990 polls rigging.
The apex court on June 6 sought written statements from all the politicians who were allegedly given millions of rupees ahead of the general elections of 1990. The attorney general also submitted a list of all the people involved in the matter.
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar also ordered all institutions of the country to cooperate with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in the Asghar Khan case.
A three-member bench led by CJP Nisar passed the order at the Supreme Court’s Lahore Registry while hearing a petition for the implementation of the 2012 judgment in the case.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan were the other members of the bench.
The CJP also passed directions to FIA Director General Bashir Memon to continue work till the conclusion of the investigation. He also directed the defense ministry to fully cooperate with the FIA.
Following the court order, veteran politicians including Javed Hashmi, Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Mir Hasil Bizenjo, Syeda Abida Hussain, former ISI chief Asad Durrani and others appeared before the bench. All are accused of participating in the 1990 poll rigging process.
The CJP reminded Hashmi of his old statement that the chief justice could not win an election even if he contested from his native area, Bhatti Gate. The CJP observed that he was not there to contest elections but to protect the Constitution.
The chief justice dispelled the impression that the top court was pressurizing anyone, or anyone was being targeted. “If you are clean, there is no worry,” he remarked.
Hafiz Abdul Rehman Ansari representing the Jamaat-i-Islami party called for ending the role of agencies in politics. At this, the CJP remarked that they would summon any general who committed a crime.
“Politicians should make themselves stronger than the agencies,” the CJP remarked.
The top judge made it clear that no delay would be tolerated in the implementation of the Asghar Khan case verdict and assured the FIA DG that all hurdles in the way of investigation would be removed.
“Pre-Poll Rigging, Creeping Coup”
Several politicians including ousted PM Nawaz Sharif allege pre-poll rigging has started in the country by fast-tracking cases and implementation of verdicts that could potentially tar them before July 25 general elections. Senior PPP politician Farhatull ah Babar said a creeping coup is under way in lead-up to election.
“A creeping coup has taken place against the authority of the civilian government. The coup has taken place very quietly before the election,” he said.
“It is different from the martial law of the past, with two resulting outcomes: the civilian government exists, but has no authority; press freedom exists, but journalists have no freedom,” he told a seminar organized by the Rawalpindi/Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) on freedom of expression and possible threats to the elections.
The former senator also called for amendments to be made to the existing contempt and cyber crime laws, and said that suo motu powers should not be abused to either reward or punish anyone.