Asghar Khan case: SC directs Nawaz to appear before court within an hour
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday morning ordered former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to appear in person before the court in an hour in the Asghar Khan case.
Resuming the hearing of the implementation of the landmark judgement in the Asghar Khan case, a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar questioned why Nawaz had not appeared before the court in person.
On June 2, the Supreme Court had issued notices to Nawaz and senior politician Javed Hashmi as well as 19 other civilians named in the case.
“Where is Nawaz Sharif? Notices were issued to him, why didn’t he appear before the court?” Chief Justice Nisar remarked. “It was a court order, people must comply with court orders.”
The chief justice further said: “We have sent him [Nawaz] the notice, I saw tickers running on television channels. It is also the main story of newspapers.”
CJP Nisar ordered Nawaz to appear before the court within an hour if he was in the federal capital.
While referring to veteran politician Javed Hashmi, who was present in court, the chief justice said: “Let’s ask Hashmi if he took the money or not.”
Hashmi, in response, said that he was acquitted in the corruption charges by the accountability court after a five-year-long trial.
The court also took back the notice issued to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Khursheed Shah. “Shah was issued a notice by mistake,” said Justice Nisar.
‘Govt ran away after forming sub-committee’
At an earlier hearing on May 31, Chief Justice Nisar had remarked that the government ‘ran away’ after forming a sub-committee for the implementation of the verdict on the Asghar Khan case.
The chief justice had questioned the deputy attorney general regarding the decision taken by the cabinet over the case.
Deputy attorney general had informed the two-member bench that the cabinet had made a positive decision regarding which Attorney General of Pakistan (AGFP) Ashtar Ausaf Ali would brief the court.
Chief Justice Nisar also expressed anger over the absence of AGFP from the court.
“This is such an important case and the attorney general is least bothered. Is this the performance of the attorney general office,” he had observed.
On May 8, the apex court had given a week’s time to the federal government to summon a cabinet meeting to determine what action to take in light of the case verdict.
On October 19, 2012, the apex court had issued a 141-page verdict, ordering legal proceedings against Gen (retd) Beg and Lt Gen (retd) Durrani in a case filed 16 years ago by former air chief Air Marshal Asghar Khan.
Khan, who passed away in January this year, was represented in the Supreme Court by renowned lawyer Salman Akram Raja.
Khan had petitioned the Supreme Court in 1996 alleging that the two senior army officers and the then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan had doled out Rs140 million among several politicians ahead of the 1990 polls to ensure Benazir Bhutto’s defeat in the polls.
The Islamic Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), consisting of nine parties including the Pakistan Muslim League, National Peoples Party and Jamaat-e-Islami, had won the 1990 elections, with Nawaz Sharif being elected prime minister. The alliance had been formed to oppose the Benazir Bhutto-led Pakistan Peoples Party.
In 1996, Khan had written a letter to the then Supreme Court Chief Justice Nasim Hassan Shah naming Beg, Durrani and Younis Habib, the ex-Habib Bank Sindh chief and owner of Mehran Bank, about the unlawful disbursement of public money and its misuse for political purposes.
The 2012 apex court judgment, authored by the then-Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry, had directed the Federal Investigation Agency to initiate a transparent investigation and subsequent trial if sufficient evidence is found against the former army officers.
That investigation is yet to conclude.