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March 1, 2012

Mehran Bank scandal SC summons ex-ISI chief Durrani, officals of defence ministry


Web Desk
March 1, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notices to the Ministry of Defence and former chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Asad Durrani in a decade-old pending case of Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan, who had blamed the then ISI chief and ex-Army chief for distributing public money for political purposes through the Mehran Bank.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and comprising Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Pervez, heard the case of Asghar Khan.

The court also sought record from the Registrar’s office pertaining to the statements earlier recorded in-camera before former Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui, in 1999 by ex-Army chief Mirza Aslam Beg, ex-ISI chief Asad Durrani and former Interior Minister Naseer Ullah Khan Babar (Late) in the case.

In 1994, PPP leader and former Interior Minister Naseer Ullah Khan Babar had alleged before the National Assembly as to how the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) had disbursed funds among politicians and various political parties to manipulate the 1990 elections by setting up the Islami Jamhoori Itehad (IJI).

Later, Air Marshal (r) Asghar Khan had moved to the country’s top court in 1996, raising the issue of a donation made by the Mehran Bank in the year 1990 to former Chief of the Army Staff General Mirza Aslam Beg. He also alleged that the money was loaned to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) so that it could be used in the creation of Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), which was set up in 1988.

Asghar Khan blamed ex-Army Chief General Mirza Aslam Beg, ex-ISI chief Lt General Asad Durrani and Mehran Bank chief for “the criminal distribution of the people’s money for political purposes.

The court in its order ruled that according to the record maintained by this court during its previous hearing of the case, statements of M/s Mirza Aslam

Beg, Asad Durrani and Naseer Ullah Khan Babar were recorded in camera, but the same are not available on the present record, presented to us by the office.

The court directed its office to trace out the said statements and put up the same in sealed envelop on the next date of hearing. The court also directed the office to produce the sealed cover report earlier submitted on May 27, 1998, on the working of ISI (Parts IV & V) on the next date of hearing.

The court also issued notice to Younas Habib to appear before the court and directed that the petitioner is required to procure his address and file the same within two days.

During the hearing, Salman Akram Raja, counsel for Asghar Khan and Muhammad Akram Sheikh, counsel for ex Army Chief Mirza Aslam Beg, and Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq appeared before the court.

Salman Akram Raja, counsel for the petitioner read out the letter addressed to former Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Sajjad Ali Shah wherein he had stated that ex-Army Chief Mirza Aslam Beg drew a huge amount from Mehran Bank and distributed among the politicians.

Justice Khilji Arif Hussan reminded the learned counsel that in his letter, Asghar Khan had prayed the court to take action against the two persons—ex-Army chief Mirza Aslam Beg and former ISI Chief Asad Durrani.

Salman Akram Raja said that it was a clear letter wherein it was pinpointed that a conspiracy had been hatched against democracy. During the hearing, some news clippings were also read out, containing statements of former Interior Minister and PPP leader Naseer Ullah Khan Babar against Mian Nawaz Sharif as well as affidavit of ex-ISI Chief Asad Durrani for disbursing money among the politicians.

The petitioner’s counsel contended that in his affidavit, the former ISI Chief had submitted before the court to have disbursed money to Mian Nawaz Sharif (Rs3.5 million); Lt General Rafaqat, who was head of President Ghulam Ishaq Khan’s election cell (Rs5.6 million), Late Mir Afzal Khan (Rs10 million), Late ex-PM Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi (Rs 5 million), Jamaat Islami Rs5 million, Late Jam Sadiq Rs5 million, and Late ex-PM Muhammad Khan Junejo (Rs 2,5 million).

The learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the issue is of very much importance and the whole nation is looking towards it. The chief justice, however, observed that the petitioner had drawn the attention of the nation towards the issue, but he had the responsibility to provide the court documents and proofs, along with the letter.

The CJ observed that the court would decide the case in accordance with law but not on mere statements. The court is not scared of anything or any key official, he added.

Appearing before the court, Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq submitted that he would assist the court in the instant case and recalled that earlier when the court took up the case in 1994, he was deputy attorney general and had assisted the court.

Earlier, the court adjourned the hearing till March 2; however, when Muhammad Akram Sheikh, counsel for Mirza Aslam Beg, told the court that the former ISI chief was visiting Colombo, and he would not be able to come till March 5 or 6, than the court adjourned the hearing till March 8.

The CJ said that hearing of the case is not feasible till Asad Durrani’s presence. Akram Sheikh also requested the court to hold the case hearing in closed doors. The apex court turned down the request with the chief justice saying that everything in this case is open and on the record, so there was no need to hold the hearing in closed doors.