Younis Habib admits being coerced by Ghulam Ishaq and Aslam Beg to arrange Rs. 340 million

A frail-looking Younus Habib, who headed the now defunct Mehran Bank, spilled the beans in the Mehrangate-IJI case on Thursday when he revealed in his first-ever statement before the Supreme Court that he had been forced by former president late Ghulam Ishaq Khan and former army chief Aslam Beg to arrange Rs340 million in the “supreme national interest”.

Originally published as: Money arranged at behest of Ghulam Ishaq, Aslam Beg: Habib

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Mr Habib, who was on wheelchair, said he had also been jailed for serving the “so-called supreme national interest”.

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez accepted his sworn handwritten statement which the elderly banker first said should be treated as a confidential document, but later agreed to read it loudly in the open court.

The bench had taken up the 1996 petition of Tehrik-i-Istiqlal chief Air Martial (retd) Asghar Khan accusing the ISI of financing several politicians during the 1990 elections to create the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) and prevent Benazir Bhutto’s PPP from winning. The ISI allegedly dished out Rs140 million for the purpose. The petition was based on the affidavit of former ISI chief Asad Durrani.

On Thursday, the court ordered defence ministry’s director (legal) Mohammad Hussain Shahbaz to submit reports on the working of security and intelligence agencies from 1990 till date. The documents would remain confidential “in the interest of the nation”.

Younus Habib said Gen Aslam Beg and ISI’s Brigadier Hamid Saeed had provided number of certain accounts in UBL, ABL and MCB for depositing the amount while the counterfoil of the deposit slip had been handed over to one Colonel Akbar.

Both Gen Aslam Beg and Asad Durrani were in the court, quietly listening to Mr Habib’s affidavit.

“In all I was asked to arrange Rs350 million by the former president and the army chief before the 1990 general elections,” said Mr Habib while reading out the affidavit.

Of the Rs345 million, Rs140 million was paid through Gen Aslam Beg to politicians — Rs70 million to former Sindh chief minister Jam Sadiq Ali who was provided another Rs150 million (from Mehran Bank’s funds) for arranging licence to set up Mehran Bank, Rs15 million to Pir Pagara through Jam Sadiq, Rs70 million to Younus Memom on the instructions of Ishaq Khan and Gen Beg for the politicians who wished not to receive the money directly from the ISI. Some of the money was also dished out to the Army Welfare Trust.

Younus Habib, who joined the Habib Bank Limited in 1963 as a clerk and retired as the bank’s Sindh chief in 1991, tendered an apology for his involvement in the scam and threw himself at the mercy of the court.

He admitted that he used to talk to Gen (retd) Beg frequently and it was in March 1990 that the latter wanted him to arrange Rs350 million before the elections. A few months later, he said, he had been invited by Gen Beg to attend the installation ceremony of Col Commandant Sindh regiment where he was treated like chief guest.

Mr Habib submitted a photograph, along with his affidavit, in which he is seen with former president Ishaq Khan and a uniformed army officer having conversation with Gen Beg.

The court made the photograph part of the record.

He said a meeting later arranged at the Balochistan House in Islamabad was attended only by him, Ishaq Khan and Gen Beg. “I was told by Ishaq Khan that the money ought to be arranged by hook or by crook.”

Mr Habib said he had told them that arranging such a huge amount was not possible through legal means for which he had to manipulate the system. At this Ishaq Khan told him that he would have to do whatever he could for the national cause.

Mr Habib’s bag of surprises had a few other information. On Sept 29, 1990, he said, a meeting had been held in the Q block of the Islamabad Secretariat in which former attorney general late Aziz A. Munshi and Roedad Khan (probably the then chief of a cell to initiate cases against Asif Ali Zardari and Benazir Bhutto) had been pressurised to lodge a complaint against Mr Asif Zardari implicating him in the Fauzi Ali Kazmi Tax Free Plaza scam.

Younus Habib was arrested on the orders of Roedad Khan at Karachi airport when he refused to oblige. He was kept in an FIA cell for five to six days. While in custody, Mr Habib said, he concluded that he had to arrange the money and was also bullied through the courtesy of Jam Sadiq Ali.

Mr Habib said the case had been dubbed the Mehran Bank scandal, but actually the amount had been provided by the HBL and the NBP.

When former prime minister Benazir came to power for the second time, she ordered an audit of the bank.

Earlier, two sealed documents (four folders), one comprising a report by a commission tasked to review the working of security and intelligence agencies, were opened in the court. The other document contained two audio-cassettes and unsigned statements/cross-examination of Maj-Gen (retd) Naseerullah Babar and Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani recorded during an in-camera session of the court.

The court noted that its office had also tried to find out whether the examination of Naseerullah Babar and Asad Durrani was recorded because no such document was on record.

WHO RECEIVED HOW MUCH

According to Younus Habib:
•Rs140 million was paid through Gen Beg to politicians;
•Rs70 million to former chief minister Sindh Jam Sadiq Ali;
•Rs15 million to Pir Pagara through Jam Sadiq;
•Rs70 million to Younus Memom on the instructions of then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Gen Beg for the politicians who wished not to be paid directly from the ISI;

•Some amount was also dished out to the Army Welfare Trust.

According to the affidavit of former DG ISI Asad Durrani:

•Nawaz Sharif received Rs3.5 million;
•Mir Afzal Khan Rs10 million;
•Lt-Gen Rafaqat Rs5.6m for distribution among journalists;
•Abida Hussain Rs1 million;
•Jamaat-i-Islami Rs5 million;
•Altaf Hussain Qureshi Rs0.5 million;
•Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi Rs5 million;
•Jam Sadiq Rs5 million;
•Mohammad Khan Junejo Rs0.25 million;
•Pir Pagara Rs2 million;
•Maulana Salahuddin Rs0.3 million;
•Humayun Marri Rs1.5 million;
•Jamali Rs4 million;
•Kakar Rs1 million;
•K. Baloch Rs0.5 million
•Jam Yousuf Rs0.75 million
•Bizenjo Rs0.5 million;

•Various small groups in Sindh received Rs5.4 million.

Dawn News

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