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Revisiting 1990 elections

Just as the news related to the concocted Jinnahpur conspiracy is in circulation, more and more revelations are being made. It relates to how in 1990, an alliance opposed to the PPP was brought into power by the establishment. To be fairly accurate, there is nothing revealing in the news coming; what is noteworthy is that they are being amplified due to the presence of electronic media.

In 1988, the PPP came to power – but from day one, it was not allowed to rule. Much of it is being discussed by the then-Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, in her autobiography“Daughter of the East.” She narrates a chilling account of how the establishment first tried to stop her rise to power and later her blocked her government every now and then. In 1990, within two years of staying in power, she was removed by the President.

As if it was not enough, the elections to be held in 1990 were heavily fudged in the favor of Islami-Jamhoori-Ittehad, IJI. The then-Chief of Army Staff, General Mirza Aslam is said to have doled out millions of rupees to favorite candidates. This would later be revealed – and a case is still pending in the Supreme Court.

The case, known as Mehran Bank Scandal, was heard by Justice Saeed-ud Zaman Siddiqui. During the hearing of the case, the then-DG ISI, Asad Durrani, confessed to have distributed the money. Mr. Siddiqui admitted that Mr. Durrani has made an admission.

Here is what Daily Times reports:

Talking to a private TV channel, he said the ISI was an intelligence agency and should not interfere in politics, or be used against politicians. He said former ISI director general Lt Gen Asad Durrani had informed the Supreme Court that he had given money to politicians, ostensibly to ‘convince’ them to join the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI).

Justice (r) Siddiqui told the channel that he had said at that time that the ISI’s role should not be political. He said the case was still pending in the Supreme Court at the time of the 1999 coup. He said Lt Gen (r) Durrani had presented an affidavit in court, giving details of the money distributed to different politicians.

According to the affidavit, then chief of army staff General (r) Mirza Aslam Baig had advised the intelligence agency in September 1990 that it should give logistic support to the transfer of funds from the business community in Karachi to the IJI during the 1988 election.

According to the written affidavit of July 24, 1994, Lt Gen (r) Durrani said he was informed at the time that the step had the government’s complete support. After the orders, he said he opened a number of accounts in banks in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Quetta.

A man from Karachi named Younas Habib had deposited Rs 140 million in a bank account and the rest of the money was transferred to a special fund.

According to the affidavit, acquired by the TV channel, former caretaker prime minister Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi received Rs 5 million, former Sindh chief minister Jam Sadiq Rs 5 million, former prime minister Muhammad Khan Junejo Rs 2.5 million, Nawaz Sharif Rs 3.5 million, senior politician Pir Pagaro Rs 2 million, the Jamaat-e-Islami Rs 5 million, Mir Afzal Khan Rs 10 million, Abida Hussain Rs 1 million, Lt Gen Rafaqat Rs 5.6 million for managing the media campaign, Humayun Marri Rs 1.5 million, former prime minister Zafarullah Jamali Rs 4 million, Kakar Rs 1 million, Jam Yousaf Rs 0.7 million, Hasil Bizenjo Rs 0.5 million, Nadir Mengal Rs 1 million, Altaf Hussain Qureshi and Mustafa Sadiq Rs 0.5 million, Salahuddin Rs 0.3 million, smaller groups Rs 5.4 million and others received Rs 3.339 million.

Meanwhile, there has been admission from the people at the receiving end. According toDaily Times monitoring report, while Abida Hussain admits of having taken money, Prof. Ghafoor shows ignorance if JI had taken any money.

I was information minister in Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi’s cabinet and received Rs 5 million from the Inter-Services Intelligence to join the IJI, Abida Hussain told a private TV channel on Thursday. Talking to the channel, Abida said she was told that Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia had sent this money through Mahmood Haroon. She also revealed that Nawaz Sharif, [Zafarullah] Jamali and Mir Afzal Khan were also beneficiaries.

and that …

Senior Jamaat-e-Islami leader Professor Ghafoor Ahmad said on Wednesday that he had no information that his party had ever received any money from the ISI agency, a private TV channel reported on Wednesday. Denying the allegations leveled against his party by former Chief Justice Saeed-uz- Zaman Siddiqui, the JI leader said he was not aware that any such transaction had ever taken place.

Back in 1990, it was establishment versus PPP. No one cared much when it was thrown out of power; no one cared when it was denied power. These revelations often hit the screens but the truth is that the shady actors of the past appear brazenly on television channels to offer their insight.

If justice delayed is justice denied, then PPP is denied justice. Except for studious followers of politics or history, the ‘revealations’ will be dismissed as a “non-issue” of present today. This despite the fact that we need to draw lessons from the power structure in the country; only then will we be able to analyze the present.

Revisiting 1990 elections – II

The debate over 1990s elections is still continuing. The recent debate started when Brig. (Retd.) Imtiaz Ahmad came forward to reveal certain facts from the past – such as theconcoted Jinnahpur conspiracy. But just as he revealed a single issue, he was grilled for his role in other events, which included the dethronement of elected governments.

On face, the ongoing debate on 1990 elections has nothing to do with Brig. (Retd.) Imtiaz. It involved distribution of funds at the orders of the then-COAS, General Mirza Aslam Beg, to the elements opposed to the Pakistan Peoples Party. This was later confessed by the then-DG ISI, General Asad Durrani, who submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court. (Click here to see the earlier story.)

The story is narrated by Daily Times is its editorial; it writes:

The whole affair started when the PPP’s General (Retd) Naseerullah Babar told the National Assembly in 1994 how the ISI had disbursed funds among politicians to manipulate the 1990 elections, form the IJI, and bring about the defeat of the PPP. At the summit of power, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan was providing the legal cover. It is his name which was mentioned at the Supreme Court as the Chief Executive who ordered the disbursement.

In 1996, Air Marshal Asghar Khan petitioned the Supreme Court against ex-army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg, ex-ISI chief Lt General Asad Durrani, and Younus Habib of Habib Bank and then Mehran Bank, concerning “the criminal distribution of the people’s money for political purposes”. When the Supreme Court proceeded with the case General Asad Durrani submitted the famous affidavit containing names of the “recipients”.

As of now,  the case is still pending with the Supreme Court and despite Asghar Khan’s repeated calls, the case is not being taken.

It is not that the issue should be dismissed as a thing of past. Instead, lessons should be drawn from the past to rectify the present and the future.It is a certain security mindset which doesn’t trust the politicians and find them unpatriotic. Brig. (Retd.) Imtiaz says that he was made to believe that Benazir’s government was going against the security interests and he did believe. But the truth is – no one wants to debate over the security issues. That our narrow security outlook bites the democratic process is something which we are not ready to look into. The media also needs to learn right lessons from what is revealed so that no one questions democratic governments over their conduct.

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