Doled out millions to Pak politicians: Ex- ISI chief

The case could cause embarrassment for the military and politicians like Nawaz Sharif, who was allegedly among the recipients of funds.

Islamabad: Former ISI chief Asad Durrani on Friday
admitted in Supreme Court that he had distributed millions of
rupees among Pakistani politicians in 1990 on the instructions
of then army chief Gen Mirza Aslam Beg and late President
Ghulam Ishaq Khan.

Durrani`s testimony confirmed banker Yunus Habib`s
contention in the apex court that about Rs 400 million was
distributed among politicians linked to the army-backed Islami
Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) to influence the outcome of the 1990
general election.

The IJI was created with the backing of the security
establishment to prevent the Pakistan People`s Party from
coming to power.

During his appearance before a three-judge bench led by
Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, Durrani admitted the
operation was mounted on the instructions of army chief Beg
and late President Khan.

Durrrani said after he got an order from the army chief,
he had put several army officers on the duty to complete the
task of distributing the funds.

Durrani, who headed the ISI during 1990-92, said Beg had
told him that the business community in Karachi had put
together the funds to be handed over to politicians.
The funds were provided from an "election cell" in the
presidency, he said.

The former ISI chief said the spy agency did not have a
political cell though some persons did political work.

After hearing Durrani`s testimony, the bench directed him
to submit a detailed statement and also sought the
government`s views regarding the ISI`s "political cell".

In his testimony in the court yesterday, banker Yunus
Habib had said he had arranged Rs 1.48 billion on the
directions of army chief Beg and late President Khan.

Out of this, Rs 340 million to Rs 400 million was
distributed among politicians like PML-N leaders Shahbaz
Sharif and Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf leader Javed
Hashmi and military ruler Zia-ul-Haq`s son Ejaz-ul-Haq, Habib
said in remarks in court and to the media.

The remaining funds were invested in "fictitious bank
accounts" by Military Intelligence and army officers, Habib
had said.

Habib, the former head of Mehran Bank, recorded his
testimony as the apex court began hearing a 16-year-old
petition against the funding of politicians by the ISI.

The petition was filed by former air force chief Asghar
Khan and the court recently took up the case after a gap of 12

Several persons linked to the case, like former President
Khan and Maj Gen Naseerullah Babar, have died.

Former army chief Beg too submitted a statement in court
today, in which he denied the charges levelled by Habib.

Beg said Habib was trying to "scandalise" the court
proceedings and was trying to malign his and late President
Khan`s name.

Beg was forced to apologise to the bench after the Chief
Justice remarked that a paragraph in his statement was

Beg came to the rostrum, apologised to the bench and
sought permission to remove the paragraph and his request was
accepted by the judges.

In the particular paragraph, Beg had said he was grateful
that the Supreme Court had allowed him to complete a "hat
trick" of appearances in court.

Noting that he had appeared in court twice earlier, Beg
said it would not be possible for any other army chief to
break his record.

The judges took offense to the paragraph and the Chief
Justice asked Beg if he had come "to play golf" and make "a
joke of the court".

The Chief Justice observed that there were conflicting
statements from all the respondents and it was necessary to
launch an inquiry into the case.

Asghar Khan`s lawyer Salman Akram Raja read out a letter
from his client which indicated that the then Director General
of Military Intelligence too was involved in the scandal.

All the persons involved in the matter had violated their
oath of office and their actions should be equated with
sabotaging the constitution, Raja said.

The apex court directed Attorney General Anwar-ul-Haq to
look into previous investigation reports on the scandal before
adjourning the case till March 14.

The money provided by banker Habib was reportedly
distributed among anti-PPP politicians, political parties and

The case could cause embarrassment for the military and
politicians like Nawaz Sharif, who was allegedly among the
recipients of funds.