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May 9, 2018

Asghar Khan case: 18 politicians died before probe


May 9, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The FIA head is all set to form a new high-powered inquiry committee to complete the long-pending probe into Asghar Khan case initiated on the Supreme Court’s directions, The News has learnt.

According to sources privy to the developments, the new FIA team would be formed within the next couple of days which is to probe the distribution of money among politicians by the military personnel. The new team is being formed as some members of the earlier FIA team have been transferred after promotion.

When contacted, FIA DG Bashir Ahmed Memon, who attended the Supreme Court hearings on the subject during the last couple of days, confirmed the news to The News on Tuesday, saying the FIA would complete its task within the deadline given by the Supreme Court. Earlier, an FIA inquiry team was set up after a three-member bench comprising the then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain gave a historic verdict in the Asghar Khan case on October 19, 2012 regarding distribution of around Rs 60 million among politicians contesting the 1990 elections from the platform of Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI).

According to the sources, the FIA team led by the then Karachi Director Shahid Hayat, Punjab Director Dr Usman Anwar and Islamabad Director Economic Crime Wing (ECW) Sardar Zaheer had so far recorded statements of over a dozen and half accused.

They include former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, former army chief Gen (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg, former ISI DG Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani, late Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan, former chief executive of the now defunct Mehran Bank Younis Habib, former ambassador to the US Syeda Abida Hussain, seasoned politician Javed Hashmi, former Punjab governor Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Advocate Yousuf Memon, senior journalist Altaf Hassan Qureshi, National Bank of Pakistan Legal Division Head Raza Mohsin Qizilbash, Habib Bank Company Secretary Nosheen Ahmed, Allied Bank Limited Clifton Branch Karachi Banking Service Officer Shafiq Ahmed, UBL City Branch Karachi Customer Service Operation Manager Sarmad Faisal Abbasi, MCB Clifton Branch Karachi Manager Faisal Nisar, Advocate Muhammad Yousaf Memon, former Sindh chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim, Ghulam Ali Nizamani, Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah and others.

All the accused politicians the FIA probed has so far vehemently rejected the allegations of receiving any amount from the ISI during the 1990 elections. Nawaz had stated before the FIA team that if proved otherwise, he would return the amount with interest. “If the inquiry finds that any transaction did take place, I won’t have a problem returning the amount with interest,” sources said quoting his statement which he had given a couple of years back.

Similarly, Hashmi told the FIA that the NAB had already investigated these allegations during Musharraf regime but nothing could be proved and he was declared as innocent. In their statements, sources added, Abida Hussain, Khar, Qureshi and others had also rejected the allegations.

It is also worth mentioning here that around 18 accused politicians could not be associated with the proceedings because they had died before the start of the FIA probe, including three former prime ministers – Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, Muhammad Khan Junejo and Malik Meraj Khalid and three former chief ministers, Jam Sadiq Ali of Sindh, Mir Afzal Khan of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Jam Yousaf of Balochistan.

Two former federal ministers Abdul Hafeez Pirzada and Ghulam Sarwar Cheema also died before the start of the probe. Former MNA Pir Sibghatullah Rashidi (Pir Sahib Pagara) and a journalist named Salahuddin also died before the probe could get underway in 2014.

According to the sources, after the dismissal of review petitions filed by Beg and Durrani, the new FIA team would summon both the retired military officials once again to get evidences from them, if there are any, regarding distributing money among the accused lawmakers over two decades back.

There is no evidence available yet with the FIA team regarding any politician of receiving money from the ISI. All depends upon Beg and Durrani that what kind of incriminating and admissible evidences they have to share with the FIA, the sources maintained.

They also claimed that the former military officials had certain evidences regarding distributing certain amount among the politicians which haven’t been shared with the FIA as yet. Moreover, there was no evidence available against supreme leader of a party, they added.

The accused politicians, the sources further said, would also be crossed-examined in the coming days by the inquiry committee with a final report to be submitted to the Supreme Court within a one-month deadline.

To a question whether a case could be registered against the accused politicians and the generals, the sources replied in affirmative, saying, a case could be registered against those politicians FIA team found any evidence.

“Former spymaster had already accepted of distributing money among the politicians and Younas Habib had also availed a plea bargain facility of National Accountability Bureau, confirming the illegality done with the national exchequer so a case is on the card,” the sources further held.

It may be relevant to mention here that the Supreme Court had ruled that the 1990 polls were rigged and action should be taken against Beg and Durrani for violating the Constitution by manipulating the subject elections.

The apex court had also directed the federal government to take necessary action under the Constitution and law against them for their role in facilitating a group of politicians and political parties to ensure their success against their rivals in the 1990 elections.

Similarly, the court had observed the legal proceeding should be initiated against politicians who had received donations to spend on election campaigns. “Therefore, transparent investigation on the criminal side shall be initiated by the FIA against all of them and if sufficient evidence is collected, they shall be sent up to face the trial, according to law,” the judgment says.

Beg and Durrani were approached for comments on Tuesday but they avoided giving any response to phone calls and text messages.

Similarly, efforts were also made to reach Law Minister Mehmood Bashir Virk and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Law Barrister Zafarullah Khan to know what steps the federal government have taken in regard to implement the Asghar Khan judgment but they didn’t respond.

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