FIA seeks SC’s help in collecting evidence in Asghar Khan Case
In a compliance report submitted to the Supreme Court on Saturday, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has sought the help and guidance of the top court in collecting sufficient evidence in the case concerning the manipulation of the 1990 elections and the implementation of the apex court’s landmark 2012 verdict on it.
In its final report submitted at the SC on behalf of the FIA in compliance to a top court order, the law enforcement agency pointed out facts due to which the investigation could not reach a logical conclusion in the infamous case.
“The FIA has left no stone unturned to trace the evidence related to the disbursement of alleged money to politicians. All the important witnesses including Brig (R) Hamid Saeed were examined. Bank records were scrutinised and statements of concerned bank officers [were] recorded. Politicians were interviewed. Assistance and information from PEMRA, NAB and ministry of defence were sought. More than 190 television programmes were analysed. [The] Ministry of defence was contacted to provide information regarding the details required to find necessary evidence,” the agency maintained in its report after giving a detailed background of the probe.
According to the FIA, one of the reasons that the investigation could not reach a logical conclusion in the Asghar Khan Case was due to the fact that “no army officer gave any statement of handing over money to any private person directly. Documents provided by Brig (R) Hamid Saeed show that money was distributed in Sindh, but the officers who actually distributed the money were not disclosed by him. Moreover, the receipts of receiving money by the politicians, as mentioned by Brig (R) Hamid Saeed, have not been provided to FIA. According to Brig (R) Hamid Saeed these receipts were sent to GHQ, but upon asking by FIA, General (R) Durrani denied having information of any such receipts”.
“The intelligence agency team responsible for distribution of funds in Punjab and elsewhere could not be ascertained despite FIA writing to M.O.D (ministry of defence) asking about whereabouts of intelligence agency personnel mentioned at para-9 of the Honourable Supreme Court’s judgement dated 19-10-2012,” said the FIA.
The FIA continued that it also failed to find the money trail in the case.
“Certain bank details have not been provided, which would complete the money trail required for prosecution purposes.”
The report further stated that “Since army/intelligence officers were primarily responsible in [the] distribution of money to private persons and politicians, therefore, splitting the investigation into two, i.e., army and civil, creates practical difficulties for a civilian agency during [the] investigation”.
According to the agency, the FIA tried to unearth the facts and bring truth to light, but the investigation in Asghar Khan case reached a dead end for the aforementioned reasons and hence guidance is being sought from the SC.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Saturday welcomed the resumption of the case hearings.
In a message shared on Twitter, Chaudhry added that Prime Minister Imran Khan had already given the FIA orders to act upon the apex court’s orders pertaining to the case.
The information minister added that the case makes the “political character” of the PML-N “evident”, adding — in a veiled swipe at the PPP — that it was “interesting” that the political heirs of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto — who had been the main target of those who engineered the 1990s election — were now “sitting in PML-N’s lap”.
Moreover, PPP provincial minister Saeed Ghani praised the apex court for hearing the Asghar Khan reference and demanded that a TV interview of philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi should also be made part of the reference.
He alleged that the national exchequer was looted to hamper the political progress of Benazir Bhutto. “Millions of rupees were spent on the character assassination of Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Ali Zardari,” Ghani added.