Nawaz fails to appear in Asghar Khan case despite a SC summon

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supreme leader Nawaz Sharif failed to appear before the Supreme Court on Wednesday despite a summon.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar conducted hearing of the case. “Those who were accused of receiving money have been issued notices. Where is Mr Nawaz Sharif?” asked the CJP over his absence.

“His notice was collected by his security officer. Contact him and ask him to reach court within an hour,” directed the CJP.

However; when he failed to attend the hearing, the CJP said, “Did you came to know the whereabouts of Nawaz Sharif? Ask him to arrange for a lawyer if he is unable to attend the hearing.”

“Nawaz Sharif is in accountability court. He is preparing for a lawyer to represent him in the case,” replied the Attorney General.

Javed Hashmi appeared before the court. “Did you take the money?” CJP asked him. “I obtained your notice and appeared today though it wasn’t necessary however; I came in respect of the judiciary. The accusation against me is entirely false. FIA also held interrogation and cleared me,” he said.

“Your appearance in the court is commendable. You are a beacon for others,” said the chief justice.

“Whoever is accused of receiving money will appear before the court. They are a part of investigation. Retired army officers will also have to face trial. We will not delay this case. The accused should provide an explanation as they are being given a chance. Don’t lament afterwards,” remarked the CJP.

“Khurshid Shah is in Karachi and his name is not among the recipients of money,” said his lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan. “Abida Hussain got the notice late,” said the lawyer.

Mirza Aslam Baig also appeared in the court. “I request the court to decide over my case and not the army,” he said. “Submit your petition and we will review it. The next hearing of the case will be held in Lahore,” remarked the CJP.

Talking to media, Hashmi said, “The case accuses that ISI gave money to some people and politicians have been named. I do not have any idea about this. I was acquitted after five-year jail term. The real clash was between PML-N and PPP. Politicians are used and then thrown away.”

The next hearing will be held on June 12 in Supreme Court Lahore registry.

On Tuesday, the apex court’s Registrar Office issued notices to 31 persons and directed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif to appear before the court in personal capacity.

The individuals who were issued notices include; Abida Hussain, Altaf Hussain, Javed Hashmi, Jam Mashooq, Ajmal Khan, Afaq Ahmad, Khursheed Shah, Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Sirajul Haq, Secretary Interior, Defense and DG FIA.

A case was filed by the late former chief of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) retired Air Marshal Asghar Khan alleging that country’s intelligence agency had provided Rs140 million to the politicians in the 1990s to form the Islami Jamhoori Itehad (IJT) in order to prevent PPP from winning the polls of the 1990 general elections.

The case has been shrouded in complexities as many former army officers including former ISI Chief General (Retd) Aslam Baig and PM Nawaz Sharif were involved.

Hearing of the case was started in 1996 by the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan. A detalied judgement was reached in November 2012 by a three-member bench of SC comprising then Cheif Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary, Justice Jawad S. Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain.

The decision stated that action should be taken against those involved. The detailed order also stated that the late president Ghulam Ishaq Khan, former army chief General (r) Aslam Beg, and ISI ex-DG General (Retd) Asad Durrani, acted in violation of the Constitution by helping politicians to secure their success against their opponents in the elections of 1990 for which they received funds from Younis Habib.

In light of this decision, a team of FIA had investigated the case under the supervision of then FIA Additional Director General Galib Ali Bandesha, but the inquiry was never completed as the PPP regime during that time lost interest as FIAs development of the case remained slow.

Investigation into the case again picked up in April 2015 with FIA Director General Akbar Khan Hoti forming a joint investigation team (JIT) under the supervision of FIA Additional Director General Khalid Qureshi including FIA Punjab Director Dr Usman Anwer and some other senior directors of FIA as members of the team. The JIT was formed on the orders of former interior minister Nisar calling the team to finalize the case and speed up the process of the case.

Statements of Air Marshal (Retd) Asghar Khan, former ISI DG Lt-Gen (Retd) Asad Durrani, former banker Younis Habib and former Zonal Chief of HBL Younus Memon were recorded in the case. – NNI

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