PM vows to punish culprits

ISLAMABAD — The Supreme Court’s ruling declaring that the 1990 elections were rigged and directing action against some retired senior army officials has been widely acclaimed by political, legal and civil society activists as “historic”.

By (Afzal Khan)

Published: Sun 21 Oct 2012, 9:19 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 1:21 PM

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf addressing a news conference lauded the verdict and vowed to implement it by bringing to justice the “culprits” who rigged the 1990 polls.

“The day of the ‘historic’ verdict was a day of democratic triumph,” the premier said.

The Supreme Court ordered legal proceedings against a former head of intelligence and former army chief over allegations that politicians were bankrolled to stop late Benazir Bhutto and her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) from regaining power after she was dismissed by the then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan on corruption charges.

Prime Minister Ashraf said the people who accepted money to rig the elections must apologise to the nation. “It will be up to the masses whether they want to forgive the culprits or not,” he added.

PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, former interim premier late Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, spiritual leader late Pir of Pagara, the Jamaat-e-Islami and Abida Hussain were among those who allegedly received money from the then Inter Services Intelligence chief Gen. Asad Durrani.

The premier vowed to get every penny of the nation back from the culprits by obeying the ruling of the apex court.”

He did not directly answer question whether action would be taken against retired senior army officers but Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira admitted it was a difficult proposition.

Justice (retd) Tariq Mahmood said the court had thrown the ball into the civilian government’s court but thought that it would have to consult the army before initiating unprecedented criminal proceedings against some retired generals.

While the premier promised investigation by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against people who manipulated the 1990 poll, chairman Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf, Imran Khan, was sceptical that the FIA would be able to do that.

In an apparent reference to Nawaz Sharif and his PML-N, the PTI chairman said that the SC ruling has clearly shown which party was created by secret agencies.

Imran requested the Election Commission to bar those political leaders from participating in the next general elections who accepted money from the ISI in 1990.

Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan who had to wait for 16 years before the court delivered verdict on his petition, urged the government to initiate criminal proceedings against those involved in the scam.

He added that it was for the first time in the country’s history, that a ruling had come against retired military officials.

On the occasion, Khan’s counsel, Salman Akram Raja, said that it was not possible for the government to not act on the court’s verdict.

Responding to a question, Raja Ashraf said the constitution’s Article 6 could be used to proceed against former army chief Gen (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg and ISI’s former director-general Lt-Gen. (retd) Asad Durrani for subverting the constitution that prohibits army personnel from taking part in politics.

Several jurists also noted that the court had censured late president Ghulam Ishaq Khan for operating a political cell in the Presidency to create political alliance Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) and manipulate elections. The ruling has implications for President Asif Ali Zardari who continues to actively lead partisan politics from the Presidency. He is already facing contempt proceedings in the Lahore High Court for failure to obey its directive to discontinue using his office for political activities.

JUI chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman while commenting on the verdict said that the presidency should not have any political wing and should refrain from expelling or inducting anyone in the government.

He further alleged that the establishment has always influenced the political landscape of Pakistan in the past.

Fazl maintained that a mere decision was not enough in Asghar Khan’s case and a thorough probe should be conducted. “If a prime minister of the country could be sent packing, punishment should also be declared in this case as well,” he added.

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