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PPP govt denies ISI political cell existence

The defence ministry of the PPP government Wednesday denied the
existence of political cell in the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI),
but the Supreme Court demanded the statement should be signed by the
defence secretary.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice
Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was hearing the Asghar Khan petition, in
which he has alleged that the ISI financed politicians in the 1990
elections by dishing out Rs140 million to create the Islami Jamhoori
Ittehad (IJI) and prevent Benazir Bhutto’s PPP from winning the polls.
At
the outset of the hearing, Defence Ministry Director (Legal) Commander
Shahbaz, in the pursuance of a court order, submitted reply on behalf of
the ministry stating that no political cell was in operation in the
ISI. He told the bench that the defence ministry had gotten it confirmed
from the intelligence agency before submitting its response.
At
this, the chief justice directed him to submit the statement relating to
non-existence of political cell in the ISI after getting it duly signed
by the defence secretary. The chief justice cited a letter which he
said was submitted before the court on June 26, 1997 stating that a
political cell was functioning within the ISI.
During the hearing
the chief justice remarked that they would pass a judgment in the case,
but he wondered if the executive would implement it or not. He said they
had passed judgments in the cases of Steel Mills, Ogra chairman and
Rental Power Projects but those were not complied with fully. Addressing
Salman Akram Raja, counsel for Asghar Khan, the chief justice remarked:
“You and we agree that the whole nation is concerned at the way the
authorities were playing with their fate.”
Arguing the case, Akram
Raja read the affidavits of Lt-Gen (r) Asad Durrani, Gen (r) Mirza
Aslam Beg, Younis Habib and Gen (r) Naseerullah Babar and some previous
orders of the SC, passed since 1997. He contended that distribution of
funds, among politicians, through agencies was an illegal act.
No
authority is bound to follow the illegal orders, the counsel said,
questioning that if tomorrow 111 Brigade sieges the Prime Minister
House, should he obey any illegal order? On this, the chief justice
remarked that it was actually the Chief Justice House that was encircled
at the time the counsel was referring to.
The counsel prayed to
the court to pass an order that disobeying illegal orders should not be
considered unlawful acts. Raja further said that in 1942, the then Air
Force commander ordered Asghar Khan to bombard the Hurs caravan. He said
the retired air chief did flew his plane but when he saw that instead
of armed men there were women and children in that caravan he refused to
obey the order.
Moreover, he said that the culprits who commit a
crime even in distant past must not be spared as there was no time limit
to punish the culprits. In Turkey, many army generals, who committed
crime in 1980s, were sentenced recently. The chief justice said that
they have read in the newspapers that three retired generals of NLC, who
were involved in Isaf containers scam, were reinstated for departmental
disciplinary actions against them.
The court expressing annoyance
over the absence of interior and defence secretaries, summoned them.
The chief justice said neither the secretaries nor their counsels, and
not even the attorney general is present in the court, which shows the
level of interest of the federation in this case. He remarked that the
defence ministry was not taking the matter seriously enough, adding that
the ministry did not understand what it meant to appear before a court.
After
the court break, Commander Shahbaz apprised the bench that Defence
Secretary Lt-Gen retired Asif Yasin Malik was on a visit to new airport
at Fateh Jhang Road. The chief justice inquired from Commander Shahbaz
as to who was representing the ministry. He said since 1997 the attorney
general was representing the ministry.
But Deputy Attorney
General Dil Muhammad Alizai, who appeared on behalf of Attorney General
Irfan Qadir, said the AG was not representing the ministry. The court,
however, stopped Mr Alizai from representing the attorney general,
saying the AG was on court notice. Later, the bench adjourned hearing of
the case until today (Thursday).
During the proceeding, Raja
alleged that ISI had disbursed money for political purpose and ISI
officials breached their oaths. On this, the chief justice observed
there must be evidence that who received the money for the political
operation. Giving breakup of the alleged disbursed amount, the learned
counsel told the bench that out of Rs140 million around Rs60 million
were distributed among politicians whereas remaining amount of
Rs80million was deposited in the account of the ISI.

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