Pak yet to launch inquiry against politicians bribed by ISI



Islamabad: The Pakistan People's Party-led government is yet to initiate a formal inquiry against politicians who were allegedly paid off by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to rig the 1990 general election.

The issue of launching a probe had been discussed more than once in recent meetings presided over by PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari but the leadership was unable to take a decision, an unnamed senior PPP leader and federal minister was as saying by the Dawn.

The Supreme Court, in its verdict on a 16-year-old petition filed by former air force chief Asghar Khan against the rigging of the 1990 polls, recently ruled that millions of rupees were paid by two former generals to politicians to form the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad.

The court directed the government to take action against the generals and the politicians who were paid by the Inter-Services Intelligence.

The PPP leader said hawks in the party wanted an immediate inquiry against the former Islami Jamhoori Ittehad politicians, including former premier Nawaz Sharif and his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. The hawks also want this probe to be completed before the next general election, scheduled for early next year.

However, a "considerable number" of PPP leaders had called for a go-slow policy and allowing the caretaker government to be formed ahead of the polls to handle the apex court's judgment, the PPP leader said.

"President Zardari is also talking to coalition partners, taking their suggestions on how the government should move forward on the court order because of the coming general elections," the leader said.

Any miscalculation now could have far-reaching political implications for the partners in the PPP-led ruling coalition, he said.

The PPP leader further said Interior Minister Rehman Malik had been asked to do complete the required work so that action could be taken immediately if the government decided to go in for an inquiry.

The main opposition PML-N initially expressed its reservations over any investigation into the matter by the Federal Investigating Agency as directed by the apex court but has now has called for the immediate implementation of the judgment.

Since the court released its detailed judgment on November 8, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has asked the government to implement the verdict. PML-N spokesman Mushahidullah Khan said the PML-N had only criticised the FIA?s track record.

"But now my top leadership has clarified more than once that it is ready even for the FIA inquiry," he said.

An unnamed senior Supreme Court lawyer, who was closely associated with the Asghar Khan case, said the PPP wanted to be on the right side of the army and would try to avoid implementing the judgment that had categorically held former army chief Gen Mirza Aslam Beg and ex-ISI chief Lt Gen Asad Durrani guilty of distributing money among the politicians.

If the government asked the FIA to start investigating the politicians, it would have no option but to move against the retired generals, the lawyer said.

PTI