Pak PM pledges transparent probe into 1990 poll rigging

The Federal Investigation Agency will conduct an investigation and take action according to the law and Constitution.

Updated: Oct 19, 2012, 23:51 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Friday pledged a transparent and impartial probe into the rigging of the 1990 general election by some politicians and military officers, in line with a Supreme Court order and to punish the guilty according to the law.

Speaking hours after the Supreme Court directed authorities to take legal action against former army chief Gen Mirza Aslam Beg and former Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Asad Durrani and politicians involved in the rigging, Ashraf said the court`s verdict had vindicated the ruling Pakistan People`s Party stance.

"The detailed judgement is yet to reach us but on the basis of the Supreme Court`s the short order and its spirit, we will take action according to the Constitution and law in a clean, transparent and impartial manner," Ashraf told a news conference at the Prime Minister`s House this evening.
All those found guilty of rigging the 1990 polls "should be punished", he said.

The Federal Investigation Agency will conduct an investigation and take action according to the law and Constitution. Everything uncovered by the probe will be made public, he said.

"As the chief executive, I want to assure the people that there will be a clean and transparent investigation. Anyone involved will not escape punishment and all the money will be recovered," Ashraf said in response to questions from reporters.

Asked if the government would take action against the retired generals or hand over the matter to the military so that action could be taken under the Army Act, Ashraf said: "Action will be taken under the Constitution, law and the rules. We will study the matter, seek legal opinion and then take action".

Ashraf called on all the politicians involved in rigging
the 1990 polls to apologise to the people.

However, even if they apologise, the government will act against them according to the law, he said.

"The court`s short order says very clearly that the distribution of funds and the conspiracy (to rig the polls) was illegal and unconstitutional. There will be no interference by the government in the probe.

"We want it to be conducted as quickly as possible so that we can identify those who gave and accepted money," he said.

The PPP was widely expected to win the 1990 polls, which were won by the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad, a grouping of parties backed by the military establishment.

At the time, political parties and poll observers had alleged that there was widespread rigging during the election.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, which recently took up a petition against the rigging that was filed by former air force chief Asghar Khan in 1996, today ruled that the two former generals and late President Ghulam Ishaq Khan were involved in rigging the polls.
The apex court directed authorities to act according to the Constitution and law against the two generals.

It further directed the Federal Investigation Agency to probe the distribution of funds among politicians so that legal action could be taken against them.
The court further said that any election or political cell in the presidency or intelligence agencies should be immediately abolished and any notification for creating such cells would stand cancelled.

In response to a question, Ashraf said no such political cell was functioning at present in any organisation.

The apex court`s ruling made it clear that the ISI or any other intelligence agency had "no role to play" in political affairs like the formation of government or in the holding of free and fair elections.

During the hearing of the case, it emerged that the military officers had obtained Rs 140 million that was used to rig the polls.

The court directed authorities to recover this money along with interest.
Praising the apex court`s verdict, Ashraf noted that slain PPP chief Benazir Bhutto had always contended that the security "establishment had stolen the (1990) election and they have run amok".

He said: "Now the truth has emerged and the PPP has always said truth emerges from history... Benazir Bhutto is not alive today but her spirit would be satisfied".