Mehrangate scandal hits headlines again

By Abdul Zahoor Khan Marwat

The Mehrangate scandal has hit the headlines once again. As per details of the case, a PPP leader, retired Major General Naseerullah Khan Babar, had told the National Assembly in 1994 how the ISI had disbursed funds among politicians and various political parties to manipulate the 1990 elections by setting up the IJI.

This was done to bring about the defeat of the PPP, whose government had been earlier dismissed on corruption charges. Subsequently, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court in 1996 by veteran politician Air Marshal retired Asghar Khan, who raised 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, the objective being to defeat Benazir Bhutto’s PPP from sweeping the polls.

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

The Supreme Court has been told that late President Ghulam Ishaq Khan was providing the legal cover as the Chief Executive who ordered the disbursement. All the recipients have denied the amount that was distributed among different political leaders/ parties. The concerned names and the amount has been published in the media.

There is little doubt that it is an important case and we should be careful what lessons we draw from the Mehrangate scandal. In this regard, criticism, as long as it is balanced, objective and a mean to improve the future, should be welcomed by all. Unfortunately, in the present scenario, this has no longer been the case. Objectivity has been replaced by slander; balance has sunk under misleading, weighted and narrow views while there are few constructive proposals, if at all.

Significantly, while the case is being heard and is in the news, the events surrounding it should be discussed and debated fairly, truthfully and objectively. No attempt should be made to unduly criticise and slander the national institutions. It should be remembered that Pakistan is facing turbulent times and is in a state of war. At this juncture, national unity and cohesiveness is needed unlike slandering campaigns that tarnish the image of national institutions and those heading them.

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