MY REMARKS:- When I rendered this reply to a three member Bench of the Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan,, headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry himself, the three honourable Judges read the reply dilligently and it was after nearly 25 minutes that they had a brief consultation amongst themselves. The other two Honorable Judges were MrJustice Gulzar Ahmed and Mr Justice Sh. Azmat Saeed. After their brief consultation The Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry addressed me by my full name and said “Mr Masood Sharif Khan Khattak we(The Honorable Court) appreciate your memory,forthrighness and straightforwardness and we accept your plea that this matter has been adjudicated long ago at the Lahore High Court(1992)”. I was then asked by the Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan if I wanted to claim any confidentiality of my replyto which my instatnt reply was that I did not want to claim any confidentiality and that this document can be put in the public domain. Since the same then got widely reported in the print and electronic media I have also placed it on my website for posterity, for record and for the purpose of those political science students who would like to study the 1988-1999 fragile period of democracy. I will be more than pleased to respond to comments whenever they are made.
FORMER DIRECTOR GENERAL INTELLIGENCE BUREAU
MASOOD SHARIF KHAN KHATTAK’S WRITTEN REPLY OF 06 FEBRUARY 2013
RENDERED TO THE SUPREME COURT OF PAKISTAN IN SUO MOTO CASE (CIVIL MISC. APPLICATION NO. 4671/2012)
REGARDING NEWS ITEM DATED 14.03.2012 PUBLISHED BY MR. ASAD KHARRAL, REPORTER, DAILY EXPRESS TRIBUNE WITH REGARD TO WITHDRAWAL OF AMOUNTS FROM IB ACCOUNT
1. To begin with I feel that the Honourable Supreme Court will be able to see things in a better light if I put before it the political environment prevalent in the period (1988-90) during which I was in the IB as Joint Director (Internal). Towards this end some aspects of the then existing and emerging political and national landscape are explained in the succeeding paragraphs. I observed them from my ring side position. The news reporter’s aspersions based upon an increase in the Secret Service Funds allocation to the Intelligence Bureau (IB) in the years 1989-90 shall be nullified by a perusal of the contents of paragraphs 3 to 22 below.
2. Besides the political environment then prevalent it is also necessary to understand the Administrative picture. In this context I would like to state that the Intelligence Bureau is actually a Division of the Federal Government and that the DG IB is a defacto Secretary to the Government of Pakistan. The Intelligence Bureau is not notified as a Division for the purpose of secrecy (a fallacy now). The Prime Minister is the Minister-in-Charge and the DGIB, like as if he was a Federal Secretary, reports to and receives orders directly from his Minister-in-Charge who is also the Prime Minister and Chief Executive of Pakistan. In the light of this it would not be incorrect to say that the Prime Minister is, in effect, the highest intelligence officer in Pakistan on the civil side and that, therefore, the flow of secret service funds on the Prime Minister’s orders is perfectly legal and administratively proper.
Pakistan’s Transition from Dictatorship to Democracy
3. In 1988, Pakistan had been under the military dictatorship of (General Zia ul Haq) for 11 years (1977-1988). Democracy and free will had been non existent in that period and so many other adversities like the hanging of an elected Prime Minister i.e. Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto are too well known to be repeated.
4. It was on 17 August 1988 that the fatal and well known C130 air crash at Bahawalpur paved the way for the advent of democracy in Pakistan.
5. The general elections were held in October 1988 but Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was handed over political power as late as 02 Dec 1988. The interim period was utilized for negotiations etc to somehow cobble a coalition sans Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and her PPP. The perceived threats arising out of the daughter of the executed elected Prime Minister Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto coming to power were beginning to show in this power handing process.
6. Parallel to the efforts to cobble an anti PPP coalition to take power negotiations were also being held with Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto so that in case power does, eventually, go to her and she becomes the Prime Minister she should know what would be the no go areas for her government and how she would have to accommodate selected people in important slots so that the then hitherto decade plus establishment’s say in the running of Pakistan’s policies in some sectors of national life could be carried on uninterrupted.
7. Significant amongst those people were:
a. Ghulam Ishaq Khan as President
b. Sahibzada Yaqoob Khan as Foreign Minister (Mar 1982 to Mar 1991)
c. Mr V A Jaffery. Most people believe that he was also appointed as Advisor to the Prime Minister for Finance as part of the compromise mentioned above.
8. After all efforts to cobble a coalition against Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto failed she was handed over power but not before she had a meeting with the then Chief of the Army Staff Gen Mirza Aslam Beg. The meeting was a publicized one. I am not sure but I think the incumbent President Mr Asif Ali Zardari was also present at that meeting.
9. At this point in time, or thereabout, the MQM which had 14 MNAs announced that it will lend its support to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s PPP and thus along with her own 92 MNAs (plus 14 of MQM) Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was able to convince the then Acting President Ghulam Ishaq Khan that she enjoyed the majority and should thus be invited to form the government. It is widely believed that the MQM announced its support to the PPP after the meeting between Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and General Mirza Aslam Beg mentioned in paragraph 8 above and that the moving force behind the MQM announcing its support to the PPP was actually General Mirza Aslam Beg.
10. The PPP finally formed the government and it was on or about 02 Dec 1988 that Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto took the oath of the office of the Prime Minister of Pakistan after having been deprived of the right to have her own Foreign Minister and Finance Team. She also had to accede to having Ghulam Ishaq Khan elected as the President of Pakistan. This was duly done on 12 Dec 1988 i.e. just 10 days after Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had been sworn in as Prime Minister on 02 Dec 1988. The power deal was thus completed and the stage was set for the tugs and pulls for political turf between the then Establishment (actually General Mirza Aslam Beg) and the new democratic government. There were other aspects also related to this tug of war.
11. Ghulam Ishaq Khan soon became a key player in all the games played against the then Constitutionally elected government of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. He would never have been able to do any such thing but he did so as he was supported and prompted by General Mirza Aslam Beg who was, in turn, an unquestioned master of his own actions and thinking. As always, it was never the Army’s collective thinking but the thinking of the then powerful Army Chief in the shape of General Mirza Aslam Beg that was at work against the nascent democratic government of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. I must add here, in memory of my slain leader Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, that she had always desired to work closely and in tandem with the military Establishment of her time and had never desired to extract any kind of revenge from the individual players who had been, in one way or another, involved with the execution of her father Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Never for a moment did she ever nurture any ill will towards the Army on any grounds whatsoever. Having worked as close as I did with her if there had been any such thing I would certainly have been in knowledge of it and, in that case, people like General Naseer Ullah Khan Babar and I would certainly not have worked with her.
12. With the power transfer to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto having been machinated it was obvious that the road to democracy was going to be extremely bumpy and that she would soon be cornered through conspiracies and intrigues. To the prudent eye it was clear that turbulent political times lay ahead.
13. The actions meant to keep Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto out of power had started with the pre-polls (1988) effort to form IJI so as to defeat PPP in the polls are now well known and the Asghar Khan case has left no doubt in anyone’s mind on those aspects. Those who wanted to keep PPP and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto out of power through pre poll activity against her were surely going to also try and remove her from the corridors of power in the shortest possible time frame after they had been forced to hand over power to her due to the weight of the 92 PPP MNAs elect of that time.
14. Since many aspects of that period have now come to light during the hearing of the recently concluded Asghar Khan Case before the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan I will not repeat them.
15. The powers that be who had not wanted to hand over power to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto willingly and without any conditions, even after she had won the elections, thought that the then young Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, with no practical experience at all, will run out of steam and fall out of power due to her own failings in governance. Yet, political games aimed towards expediting her exit were, indeed, played on a regular basis to keep Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto under constant political pressure.
16. The waiting game, for Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto to capitulate went on till the middle of 1989. When it was becoming obvious that Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was not going away on her own and was, instead, firming up her grip on power her detractors who occupied offices as powerful and important as the President (then Ghulam Ishaq Khan) and the Chief of the Army Staff (then General Mirza Aslam Beg) began to feel restless for no good reason except that they wanted to see the back of the PPP government of that time. Each passing day efforts to unite the then opposition and to break away PPP MNAs and its allies from Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s support base began to gain momentum. The ultimate aim was clearly meant to bring a vote of no confidence motion against her. I saw it all happen and do not have the slightest doubt about what I am saying. As Joint Director (Internal) in the Intelligence Bureau it was my duty to know about all happenings and efforts that could be aimed towards the destabilizing or collapse of the then constitutionally elected Government. The fact that Pakistan was headed towards a vote of no confidence was known to the then Prime Minister Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and me long before it was actually tabled.
17. Finally, on 23 Oct 1989 the then Opposition led by the IJI tabled a vote of no confidence against Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s government.
18. There is nothing wrong with the Opposition tabling a vote of no confidence against a constitutionally elected government. This indeed is the most appropriate legal way for removing a government if it has failed to deliver any good to the country and its people. However, everything is wrong with such a vote of no confidence when the moving force behind that move is not political. In this case the then COAS Gen Mirza Aslam Beg, the then DGMI Major Gen (later Lieutenant General) Asad Durrani were, personally and not institutionally, the spearheads of these efforts. I will like to say that even the then Major Gen (later Lieutenant General) Asad Durrani was a pawn in the hands of General Mirza Aslam Beg who was the real force behind all the extra constitutional steps highlighted for the pre poll period in the Asghar Khan case, for the tabling of the vote of no confidence in 1989 and, finally, for the eventual unjustifiable dismissal of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s government by Ghulam Ishaq Khan in August 1990. I add here without let, or fear, that I am convinced and know for sure that the Army as an institution had nothing to do with all these events and that the individuals mentioned, by virtue of the offices they held, acted in their individual capacities. The Army, of which I have been a part for nearly 20 years, during which I saw the 1971 Pak – India war as a young Lieutenant, years of counter insurgency operations, flood relief duties and so much more would never have endorsed these actions as an institution. Thus, I have taken names of individuals who have acted wrongly in the Army’s fair name. As far as I am concerned if, somehow, I could rewind my life I would go and join the valiant soldiers of the Pakistan Army once again. The Army has sacrificed all along and is still sacrificing blood and lives for Pakistan and it pains me to see and hear people denting the fair name of the army for their own personal reasons. These individuals should answer for themselves for their wrong actions as a result of which Pakistan is still suffering. Neither did the Institution(Army) stand by them then nor does it stand by such actions now which has been amply demonstrated in the past few weeks. I do pray that we keep the fair name of the Army (usually referred to as Establishment) out of all this and concentrate upon who is personally guilty of any omission or commission. For the sake of Pakistan let us all answer for ourselves truthfully.
19. At the time of the vote of no confidence the situation was such that President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, the then Punjab Government with the full support of the then Army Chief General Mirza Aslam Beg were grouped together whereas the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had been reduced to just about the limits of Islamabad Capital Territory with no access to intelligence from the military intelligence agencies. The isolated Prime Minister was thus heavily dependent upon the Intelligence Bureau for intelligence on the then existing unconstitutional political happenings amongst a host of other things.
20. Those who schemed the compromised handing of power to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto on 02 Dec 1988 acted unconstitutionally. While they constantly hounded her through unconstitutional means so that she succumbs to pressure and gives up her constitutional right to govern she took steps to keep her constitutionally elected government in power till removed in a constitutional manner or on completion of term. I must say here, in very unambiguous terms, that even if any Government of Pakistan, when placed under extreme unconstitutional pressures, does spend any funds to ward off unconstitutional steps aimed at dismantling that government there would be nothing illegal about it. How else can any constitutional government ward off unconstitutional pressures caused by intrigues and conspiracies?
21. By virtue of my position of Joint Director (Internal) in the IB I was at that time at the centre stage watching things happen all around me that were aimed at bringing down a delicate democratic government that had come into being after, I would say, illegal and ill meant meetings and forced compromises that the then Prime Minister Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had to agree to in order to get democracy restored in Pakistan. My conscience was clear then and my conscience is clear now, on any and all actions that I took at that time, because those efforts in the transition period from a harsh dictatorship to democracy were constitutionally and legally correct. What does a man in a responsible position do when he watches unconstitutional steps being initiated on a daily basis to paralyse Pakistan and its elected government? I am sure none would say he should just sit and watch the democratic structure crumble under the weight of intrigues, conspiracies and misuse of funds (as demonstrated by the Asghar Khan case). It is the courage of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, as a Prime Minister and a team leader, that all the intrigues including a vote of no confidence brought about through the unconstitutional role played by the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and the then Chief of Army Staff General Mirza Aslam Beg (who was then acting on his own using the heavy weight of his office) were defeated till the dreaded Article 58 (2) (b) finally struck. I was on the right side of the Constitution against extra constitutional efforts meant to bring about the fall of a Constitutional Government. I have suffered extensively for that reason.
22. Lastly, the reason why IB fund allocations increased in the years 1989-90. It may be kept in mind that in the time prior to the elected government of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto coming to power and my joining the Intelligence Bureau as its Joint Director (Internal) the Intelligence Bureau was almost completely redundant during the dictatorship of Gen Zia ul Haq (1977–88). All that Intelligence Bureau did in that long period, and even prior to that, was to churn out daily situation reports to designated dignitaries and that situation report was, more often than not, based on newspaper reports etc and there was hardly any on ground intelligence or counter intelligence effort warranting extensive Secret Service Funds. Even General Zia ul Haq was known to fondly call the IB his ‘friendly opposition’ only because at times it would initiate some reports that would contain adverse public opinion which he would conveniently laugh off. The real intelligence effort in those days of dictatorship, obviously, lay in the domain of the MI and the ISI as their service chief was also then the President and Martial Law Administrator of Pakistan. Intelligence Bureau only began to start breathing as an effective agency after the civilian elected government of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto came to power in Dec 1988. Therefore, in the changed circumstances wherein the military oriented secret agencies were not reporting to the country’s civilian Chief Executive as extensively as they did to the military dictator the activation and rejuvenation of the Intelligence Bureau became inevitable and this, subsequently, also necessitated in larger Secret Service Fund allocations for the Intelligence Bureau.
Aspects Related to the News Report published in the Express Tribune on 14 Oct 2012 and reproduced in an elaborated version in Urdu Daily The Express on 15 Oct 2012.
23. I received copies of the aforementioned news reports which became the basis for this suo moto case. I appeared before the Honourable Supreme Court on 08 January 2013. On that day it was ordered that I should render my written reply to the points raised in the subject news reports. Therefore, based on what I read in these articles, and in the backdrop of the relevant period’s prevalent political environment of Pakistan my reply is contained in the subsequent paragraphs. It may be recalled that I had made a personal request before the Honourable Supreme Court on 08 January that in order to submit my reply I will need to have access to the Intelligence Bureau (IB) records, as the contents of the news report are nearly 24 years old, which was turned down on the grounds that since I am now not in office it would not be appropriate to allow me access to that record. Having said that it shall be appreciated that I am relying entirely upon my memory to formulate this written reply to the Honourable Supreme Court as per its order of 08 January 2013.
24. Mr Kharral’s news report says that Intelligence Bureau was allocated Rs 36 crores and 51 lacs (360.51 million) as Secret Service Fund for the purpose of distributing the same to members of parliament, party workers, ministers, advisors and bureaucrats besides trying to fight back the vote of no confidence in 1989, to win the Azad Kashmir elections and the installation of a Prime Minister of the Federal Government’s choice and lastly to save the then NWFP’s (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) government of Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao.
25. While I cannot confirm, or deny, the actual amount stated to be drawn by the Intelligence Bureau then (as I am banking on memory with no access to records) I can only say, with reasonable confidence, that the amounts drawn may well be as reported. Only the Intelligence Bureau officials can confirm, or deny, the amounts mentioned. The reporter has, however, assumed, without any proof, that since the Intelligence Bureau was suddenly allocated large amounts under the head of Secret Service Funds the same must be for the purposes that he has spelled out. I shall like to draw the attention of the Honourable Supreme Court to the contents of paragraph 22 above.
26. That the political happenings described by the reporter also took place in the same period that the Intelligence Bureau was being reactivated and rejuvenated is a coincidence. But I do hasten to add that all these political activities that the newspaper has mentioned were being manipulated so as to go against the nascent democratic set up of that time and even if the government of that time fought back to keep the infant democracy of that era intact it would still be a step in the right direction. I out rightly deny the aspersions cast by the reporter in his news report that the amounts he has mentioned were distributed right, left and centre with ulterior motives. I reassert here as I did before the Lahore High Court in February 1992 that these funds were, indeed, spent towards furthering national interests.
27. The reporter has said that they have discovered, or uncovered (inkishaf), that an amount of 360.51 million rupees was allocated to the Secret Service Funds of the Intelligence Bureau under one, or another, head. There is no Inkishaf(discovery) in all of this because all that has been said in the news report on which this suo moto notice has been taken has been in the public domain for the past 23 years and was adjudicated by a Lahore High Court Judge as far back as 1992.
28. On 05 August 1990, the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan had dismissed Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto through a mere Press Conference in which he announced that under the powers conferred upon him by the then Constitution of Pakistan he was dismissing the Prime Minister and her Cabinet as well as dissolving the Assemblies of that time. Sadly, I must say that this President who was then(in 1990) dismissing Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s government was himself elected as President with her support on 12 Dec 1988. It is truly ironical that both times i.e. in 1990 and 1997 when Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s governments were dismissed under the now defunct Article 58(2)(b) both the Presidents who dismissed her governments (Ghulam Ishaq Khan in 1990 and Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari in 1997) were people she had got elected as Presidents.
29. After dismissing Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s government on 05 Aug 1990 the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan formed an Accountability Cell in the President’s House of which Mr Roedad Khan was either the Head or someone with an authority to push things in that Cell. This Accountability Cell had prepared a reference called ‘Secret Service Fund Reference’ based on exactly the same documents and amounts etc that the reporter has now composed as a report and called it an ‘inkishaf (revelation)’.
30. The case was heard in 1991-92 in the Lahore High Court under an Honourable Judge of the Lahore High Court who was specially designated to hear the accountability cases prepared in the then Presidency under the direct supervision of the then President Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan and his henchmen of whom Mr Roedad Khan was the most prominent.
31. I appeared as a prosecution witness in that case and put before that Honourable Court the exact use of all the funds that Mr Assad Kharral has now ‘rediscovered’ after a lapse of 21 long years in which the Country has passed through so much turmoil, tribulation and hard times. I do not recollect at this point of time i.e. after 21 years as to what exactly I had said in that Court but one thing I do remember having said and conclusively proved before that Court is that the amounts mentioned were actually spent for the bonafide purposes that they were meant for.
32. Since I was a prosecution witness and my statement was something that demolished that case Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was not unjustifiably disqualified. Mr Aitzaz Ahsan was Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s lawyer in that case and had cross examined me through his assistant lawyer (name not recollected at this stage). Thereafter, that case, to the best of my knowledge, was never heard of again. The purpose of that case was malafide since the sole purpose was meant to be the disqualification of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto so that she is eliminated from Pakistan’s politics. Since my statement had proved before that Honourable High Court Judge that no wrong doings had been commited that purpose of disqualifying Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was obviously not achievable. Thus that case was shelved 21 years ago.
33. The amounts and all the documents now quoted by the reporter of this particular Express Tribune report had come under the scrutiny of the Honourable Lahore High Court Judge in Lahore in Feb 1992 after which the case was not heard of despite the fact that the then all powerful President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, fully backed by General Mirza Aslam Beg, had wanted so much to disqualify Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto from politics forever.
34. For all practical purposes paragraphs 29 to 33 above should suffice as my response as it says clearly that all the amounts mentioned in the report that the Honourable Supreme Court is seized off were taken into consideration by the Honourable Judge of the Lahore High Court when it heard the earlier mentioned Secret Service Funds Reference against Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in 1991-92. I had appeared as a witness in that case and was thoroughly examined and counter examined by eminent lawyers of the defence as well as the prosecution. So, truly, all aspects that have now been wrongly alleged against the person of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto are aspects that have undergone the judicial process and have been settled more than two decades ago. I, therefore, pray that the Honourable Supreme Court may also accept the allegations made by the reporter as things that have already been judicially settled 21 years ago. However, I assure the Honourable Supreme Court of all my sincere cooperation in the subject case.
35. In the end, I once again request the Honourable Supreme Court to be in knowledge of the fact that this written reply of mine has been formulated by me from memory and I have done so without any legal assistance of any sort. It is a straightforward reply from someone who believes that truth must prevail. Every individual should answer for himself without hiding behind one cover or another. This is the only way Pakistan can move forward.
(Masood Sharif Khan Khattak)
Former Director General Intelligence Bureau
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