In a first-ever bold ruling against two former military generals, the Supreme Court Tuesday gave a week time to the federal government to outline actions against former Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Gen Mirza Aslam Beg (retd) and former Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Gen Asad Durrani (retd) in the Asghar Khan case. A four-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had sought a reply from the federal government regarding the implementation of its 2012 verdict, which may also have implications for disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The bench said that the government should decide within a week how it will proceed against the two former military generals involved in distributing money among politicians to block PPP from coming to power. It also questioned the eligibility of the claim to file high treason cases against them.
Declining Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf's request seeking two weeks for the government to outline a procedure, the apex court noted that the tenure of the ruling set-up is ending in three weeks; therefore, a special meeting of the cabinet can be summoned to decide on the matter.
The counsel for the petitioner, Barrister Salman Akram Raja, said the case was a subversion of the Constitution by two military generals in view of the 2012 judgment hence high treason proceedings should be initiated against them. The attorney general said statements should be recorded from both the generals to inquire the nature of the offence. "It is a corrupt practice," said Chief Justice Nisar.
On Monday last, the Supreme Court dismissed a review petition filed by Gen Beg and Gen Durrani against the judgment ordering action against them for distributing millions of rupees among politicians against Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) ahead of the 1990 general elections. On June 16, 1996, Air Martial Muhammad Asghar Khan (retd) wrote a letter to the then CJP Sajjad Ali Shah, which contained the names of politicians who had allegedly received money from the ISI ahead of the 1990 polls. The fund was provided by Younas Habib.
According to the letter, Nawaz Sharif had allegedly received Rs 3.5 million; Mir Afzal Khan, Rs 10 million; Lieutenant General Rafaqat, Rs 5.6 million [for distributing among journalists]; Abida Hussain, Rs 1 million; Jamaat-e-Islami, Rs 5 million and senior journalist Altaf Hussain Qureshi, Rs 500,000.
In Sindh, Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi received Rs 5 million; Jam Sadiq got Rs 5 million; Muhammad Khan Junejo Rs 250,000; Pir Pagara, Rs 2 million; Maulana Salahuddin, Rs 300,000; and other small groups in Sindh got Rs 5.4 million. In Balochistan, Humayun Marri received Rs 1.5 million. The letter also contained the names of people from Bizenjo and Kakar tribes.
The apex court in its verdict had said that former President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, the then Army Chief Beg, and the then ISI chief Durrani, acted in violation of the Constitution by facilitating a group of politicians and political parties, to ensure their success against rival candidates in the general election of 1990.
The court noted that the president being head of the state in the parliamentary system of government represents unity of the republic under Article 41 of the Constitution. And according to the oath of his office, he will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favor, affection or ill-will.
The seven-page short order, authored by former CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry, said: "Any Election Cell/Political Cell in Presidency or ISI or MI [Military Intelligence] or within their formations shall be abolished immediately and any letter/notification to the extent of creating any such Cell/Department (by any name whatsoever, explained herein, shall stand cancelled forthwith."
The court also held that the involvement of the officers or members of secret agencies in unlawful activities, individually or collectively called for strict action 'being, violative of oath of their offices', and if involved, they are liable to be dealt with under the Constitution and the Law.
"The citizens of Pakistan as a matter of right are free to elect their representatives in an election process being conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with the law," the order had said.