Wednesday December 01, 2021

Gen Aslam Beg's startling revelations in Asghar Khan case

May 18, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Former Chief of Army Staff General Mirza Aslam Beg has claimed that he had vehemently warned the then spy chief Lt Gen Asad Durrani against dragging the military into "political engineering" ahead of the 1990 elections. The startling revelations came as part of his statement to a team of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) probing the alleged distribution of estimated Rs148 crores among politicians to pollute the 1990 polls in the country.

“I called [General] Asad Durrani and warned him to be careful in the handling of those [ISI] funds. After this, I never again discussed this matter with him [Durrani]. I gave him no names of politicians or the money to be distributed, because this was entirely his domain, and he was responsible to report to the president,” Gen Beg revealed in his written statement submitted to the FIA and the apex court.

“Durrani violated the army’s rule by opening several accounts in the name of 202 Survey Section, placed under his command for operational intelligence purposes only. I came to know of this breach of trust, only in 1996 when he so deposed in his affidavit before the Supreme Court. I have had no knowledge who all operated this account. I knew Brig Hamid Saeed as operation commander 202 Survey Section and not as the ISI account holder and funds distributor to the politicians. He [Durrani] claims to have distributed funds, and recorded in his handwritten notes as proof, which have no legality. Similarly, Durrani claims having distributed funds, with no witnesses, no written or verbal proof of such transactions. It is sheer lie. Durrani involved 202 Survey Section in this game intentionally, to involve the army in his sordid deed, so unbecoming of an officer of his rank,” added Beg's statement.

Beg leveled serious allegation against General Durrani by saying that he [Durrani] got so close to Pakistan People’s Party's top leadership, that “while in uniform he started attending PPP Central Executive Committee meetings, which was reported to the-then COAS, Gen Abdul Waheed, who promptly retired him from service due to fault of the officer.

"In October 1993, when Benazir Bhutto returned to power, she offered ambassadorial job to Durrani, which he accepted and before proceeding to Germany he discussed the Game Plan with her, which was revealed by Durrani himself, in his handwritten confessional letter, he wrote from Bonn to the Prime Minister. In this letter, he talked about the two objectives of the conspiracy: To put Gen Beg on the mat and target the opposition,” Beg further accused Durrani.

In this letter, Durrani also gave names of few politicians, who received Rs8.0 million, while the remaining Rs6.0 million were given to Director External Intelligence (ISI), Beg further revealed. “He [Durrani] further said that operation was in the knowledge of the army high command. As a matter of fact, the election engineering by ISI had been going on since 1975, and was in everybody's knowledge,” claimed General Beg.

General Beg continued to reveal that General Durrani after taking the charge requested me to place him under his command the 202 Survey Section deployed in Sindh for better coordination of intelligence in the province. The 202 Survey Section, commanded by Brig Hamid Saeed, was therefore placed under DG ISI for a period of one year, for intelligence purposes only, read General Beg’s statement.

The government was preparing to hold the elections, when army intelligence informed him that on orders of the President’s Election Cell, Younis Habib had placed some funds at the disposal of ISI, for the logistic support of the coming elections, said the 88-year-old General.

“I therefore called on the President and gave him the news which he already knew and said don’t worry, Durrani will take care of it. He knows how to handle it. The President gave me no orders because his election cell was handling those matters,” General Beg said adding, “he [Durrani] was not reporting to me either, because, a new procedure was being followed since 1975, when PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto through a special notification gave 'political responsibility to ISI. And this ‘political responsibility’ was never challenged by a court of law. That was the reason that from 1990 to 1994 there was a total blank for me about ‘ISI political responsibility.'”

Beg also recalled that it was July 1994, PPP Interior Minister Maj Gen (retd) Nasirullah Babar broke the news of disbursement of funds to the politicians in 1990 on the floor of the House. “I was shocked and surprised, but couldn't inquire about it either, because, Durrani was posted as ambassador to Germany and the 151-HQ at Islamabad held no record of such transactions,” General said. Asghar Khan filed the writ petiton against me, with the Supreme Court of Pakistan, ex COAS revealed that the proceedings started, revealing what all had happened curing the intervening period 1990-1996.

“I discovered that: it was a conspiracy hatched by the then director FIA Rehman Malik, at behest of Benazir Bhutto, which carried grudge against me, for several reasons: (i) since I was a close associate of General Ziaul Haq, who hanged her father, she considered me equally guilty. (ii) she believed that I supported President Ishaq Khan who dismissed her government in 1990. (iii) she blamed me for manipulating the elections 1991,” the retired general claimed.

How personal grudge of Benazir Bhutto turned into revenge, General Beg told in his statement that Benazir's grudge was shaping into conspiracy and executed, as a 'woman's vendetta.' In fact, since 1988, when she took-over as the Prime Minister, she continued to show her dislike for me, said Beg adding Rehman Malik cultivated relationships with Durrani, while he was the DG ISI (Aug 1990 to March 1992). Once Nasirullah Babar, General Beg revealed, made public list beneficiaries in the National Assembly in July 1994, Durrani got very upset at this breach of trust, and expressed his disappointment in his affidavit of 31-10-1997 submitted with the court later, added the statement. A few weeks later Mr. Rehman Malik visited Germany, the second time, with a typed letter, containing the list of alleged recipients of ISI funds, which Gen Durrani signed the letter "under special circumstances," i.e., under duress, because it was not the list he had given to PM Benazir Bhutto. However, that was the quid-pro-quo, for accepting the ambassadorial assignment, revealed General Beg.