The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday decided not to close the Asghar Khan case, rejecting the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) recommendation.
Last week, FIA requested the apex court to close the Asghar Khan case related to the alleged distribution of Rs140 million among politicians, including former premier Nawaz Sharif, to rig the 1990 general elections and ensure late Benazir Bhutto’s defeat.
As a two-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar heard the case, he asserted that the court “will not let Asghar Khan’s efforts go to waste”.
Ordering further probe into the case, the apex judge claimed that FIA seems to be backing out when it is time to implement orders. We will summon a response from FIA and the cabinet in this matter, he said.
Moreover, he said that “another institution can continue the probe” if it is outside the mandate of FIA.
He added that the late air chief marshal’s family was not taken into confidence by the FIA regarding the closure of the case.
The FIA submitted a report to the top court, stating that it does not have enough evidence to proceed against the accused in the case. The politicians accused of receiving money denied doing so in their statements, it added.
The report said there were gaps and contradiction in the statements of witnesses in the 25-year-old case. There was no record of transactions made through banks, it added.
On Thursday, the legal heirs of late former air marshal Asghar Khan had submitted a reply in the apex court, taking issue with the recommendations to close the case for a “lack of evidence”.
In the latest development, Khan’s wife Amina Asghar Khan, his daughters Nasreen Ahmed Khattak and Sheereen Awan, and son Ali opposed the FIA’s suggestion and highlighted what they perceived to be halfhearted efforts of the authorities.
The family also sought the conclusion of the trial against the military personnel involved and the placement of the result of the trial before the people of Pakistan.
Citing the FIA’s progress in the case, the reply mentioned it was clear that “no attempt has been made by the FIA to approach for evidence the central figure retired Brig Hamid Saeed Akhtar, who had confessed before the court his personal role in carrying out the unlawful operation regarding disbursement of funds” to various politicians and institutions before the general election of 1990.
The joint reply claimed that the Ministry of Defence did not support the FIA in the execution of the court orders. “In these circumstances, the request to close the inquiry and the case is unwarranted,” it added.
Additionally, the family members expressed their concerns that “more than six years after the final judgement of the apex court, proceedings against none of the military personnel involved in the matter, including General (r) Aslam Baig and Lt Gen (r) Asad Durrani who had confessed their wrongdoing against the Constitution and the law, have been concluded”.
On Dec 29, 2018, the FIA had suggested that the apex court close the case relating to the implementation of the Asghar Khan verdict for want of concrete evidence. A report furnished before the court by the FIA stated that the authorities did not have enough evidence to launch a criminal prosecution against the individuals named in the judgement.
According to the FIA report, 18 politicians in their statements submitted in the SC denied receiving the funds to allegedly manipulate the 1990 polls.
The agency contended that the statements of witnesses recorded in the case so far had gaps and did not correlate with each other. Moreover, the investigation agency has also remained unsuccessful in securing financial records from the relevant banks since the matter is 24 years old.