Antagonism against Security Agencies-Asghar Khan Case

By Zaheerul Hassan

It would not be wrong in saying that Pakistan is passing through its political transaction phase since three decades. Though, political elite took over government after the fall of Dhaka but political maturity remained far-off from them, which again resulted into military coup. It was late Prime Minister Bhutto who introduced political wing in Inter Service Intelligence with a view to control opponent. The same wing was kept on operating to broil the desires of former civil and military rulers including former President General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf. However, the current military and ISI leadership closed the wing and put the institutions on right track to counter foreign aggression and intelligence agencies against our national interest. Marvelous results have been displayed by ISI and security agencies in elimination of foreign sponsored terrorism. But, anti Pakistan troika (US, India & Israel) with the help of their local agents have started tarnishing the image of security agencies and ISI, since they consider that ISI and others security agencies are major hindrances in their way of breaking Pakistan.

Open criticism on security forces after Osama bin Laden killing, raid on Mehran Navel Base, dragging ISI in the case of missing persons, Balochistan issue, Memo case, killing of Bugti and reopening of Mehran Bank Scandal (Asghar Khan Case) are examples of few foreign sponsored efforts of maculating of Pakistan security agencies. Regrettably, in this connection some of the local elements are being used in implementation of foreign agenda.

Nonetheless, Mehran bank scandal was a major political scandal in Pakistan between 1990 -1994. Reportedly, senior politicians and political parties have been bribed by intelligence officers to prevent the re-election and destabilize the government of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). In this regard, former Chief of Army Staff Mirza Aslam Beg with the alleged support of President Ghulam Ishaq Khan payments of up to 140 million Rupees were done by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Chief Asad Durrani and Javed Nasir via the owner of Mehran Bank Yunus Habib. Intelligence funds were deposited in Mehran bank in 1992 propping up what was an insolvent bank as a favour for its owners help in loaning money to the Inter-Services Intelligence in 1990 that was used in the creation of the right wing alliance Islami Jamhoori-Ittehad and bankrolling the campaigns of many opponents of the PPP.

However, subsequently, then new ISI Chief Lt. Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi decided to transfer the intelligence funds back to state owned banks as per official rules. Anyhow, Supreme Court Petition was lodged by Air Marshal Asghar Khan with the bank transfer details. According to the petition’s details Rs140 million have been distributed amongst the Key politicians named as recipients of ISI funds included Jam Sadiq Ali (Rs70 million from Habib Bank and Rs150 million from Mehran Bank), Journalist Altaf Hussein Qureshi (Rs. 20 million); Yousuf Memon for Ijaz-ul Haq and Javed Hashmi (Rs.50 million); Nawaz Sharif (Rs6 million); former Sindh chief minister Muzaffar Hussain Shah through his secretary (Rs13 million), MQM Haqiqi (Rs5 million), former Sports Minister Ajmal Khan (Rs1.4 million), Jam Mashooq Ali (Rs3.5 million), Liaqat Jatoi (Rs1 million), Dost Mohammad Faizi (Rs1 million), and Jam Haider (Rs 2 million).

Yunus Habib was arrested on April 7, 1994 for misappropriation in the sale proceeds of the Dollar Bearer Certificates. On Dec 14, 1995, Younus Habib was convicted of fraud and embezzlement and given a sentence of 10 years rigorous imprisonment by the Special Court for Offences in Banks in Sindh.

It is mentionable that undoubtedly, the mentioned bribe has been given to the politicians on the instruction of late President Ghulam Ishaq Khan. It was then Chief of Army Staff and ISI chief those have abided by the instructions of the president. Anyhow, from present military and ISI leadership action, it is quite evident that they have neither earlier shown and nor now any interest in political matters since taking over of their respective command. As Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) decided to fix 29th February 2012 for hearing decade old petition filed by Air Marshal (retired) Asghar Khan, pleading to the court to punish all those political leaders / parties who received money from ISI. Since the main respondents of the case including former COAS General (retired) Mirza Aslam Beg, former DG ISI Lt General (retired) Asad Durrani and former Chief of Mehran Bank Younis Habib, had already committed (statements made by Gen Aslam Beg and affidavit by Gen Asad Durrani) before the court that Rs.140 millions arranged through Mehran Bank (insolvent / bankrupt) were distributed to different political parties and politicians, therefore, the case cannot be dismissed without trial and court decision .

However, the Supreme Court should keep in mind that in the wake of challenges posed by environmental retribution of politics, vibrant media, wakefulness of civil society and judicial assertiveness, the Armed Forces / ISI are likely to be the main focus of national and international debate, which can cause negative impacts on the status and the goodwill of these institutions. Notably, the amount distributed to different political leaders / parties has been denied by all the recipients and few claim to have been acquitted by the court for lack of evidence. Hence, manipulation by advocates / lawyers is likely to turn the table against Army / ISI damaging the prestige of Armed Forces. The court should ask the Asghar Khan to provide the proof / evidence against those who received money from ISI. But at the same time Court should ask from concern agency directly, through a question, “Who ordered the amount to be distributed and with what purpose”.

Supreme Court should give higher priority to the case so that it should be decided as possible to avoid further delay. We know that political environment has been charged by design against ISI and others security agencies so that they should be pitched against the government. From Ashgar Khan Case, some more facts emerge that our politicians do have the deadly feelings of revenge and settling scores against the opponents. The revealed weakness always provided room to foreign players to play their agenda comfortably while using local traitors. Same approach was adopted after President Zia death when they tried to create rift between executive and Pak Army, since any defiance of orders at that stage would have led to conflict between the executive and army leading to another coup / Martial Law.

Now again foreign hands are openly interfering in our internal affairs, in this regards some of media anchors are deliberately gave time in their programmes to those anti Pakistan Bloch lords who are raising slogans for Independent Balochistan. Our media anchors and so called human rights activists are showing the terrorism which has been carried out by the terrorism against innocent Bloch and security agencies. They deliberately make efforts to craft and foment hatred effects against security forces and ISI. In short, Supreme Court should find out the actual facts of all those cases which are directly and indirectly showing true face of those traitors’ those are involved in leveling grounds for foreign interference. Government should take steps to stop hostile propaganda against country’s vital organs and institutions. Supreme Court should ask media not to make comments and air programme on under trial cases in the courts.

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