Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday made the office of the President party to a case related to the distribution of funds among politicians by the ISI in order to ascertain if the powerful spy agency has a political cell.
A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry served notice to the secretary to the President, seeking records of the existence of any political cell in the Inter-Services Intelligence during the tenure of late President Ghulam Ishaq Khan.
The bench acted after a representative of the Defence Ministry reiterated the contention that there was no political cell in the ISI.
The representative submitted a letter signed by Defence Secretary in this regard and told the court that a political cell might have existed in the ISI in the past but that no notification regarding its creation was found in the records.
During the hearing of the same case yesterday, the bench had informed the Defence Ministry's representative that a letter submitted to the apex court on June 26, 1997 had stated that a political cell was functioning within the ISI.
The bench is hearing a 16-year-old petition filed by former air force chief Asghar Khan about the distribution of money among politicians by the ISI in 1990 to prevent the Pakistan People's Party coming to power in polls.
Former ISI chief Asad Durrani has informed the apex court that the money was distributed on the directions of former army chief Mirza Aslam Beg and late President Ghulam Ishaq Khan.
The bench directed the Supreme Court office to send copies of order sheets with classified documents to the office of the President with an observation to make arrangements for the President's Secretary to appear in court if necessary.
Earlier, the Chief Justice told Salman Akram Raja, the counsel for Asghar Khan, that records indicated that the ISI's political cell was allegedly functioning in the presidency in 1990 and was controlled by bureaucrats Roedad Khan and Ijlal Haider Zaidi.
On hearing this, Raja asked the bench to make the President's office a party to the case and his request was accepted by the court.
The bench also ordered the Secretary of the Cabinet Division to submit a statement before the next hearing on October 15 on whether any political cell exists in the Intelligence Bureau.
The bench issued this directive after Interior Secretary Khwaja Siddique Akbar informed the court that the Intelligence Bureau was under the control of the Cabinet Division.
The apex court recently resumed hearing the petition filed by Asghar Khan in 1996.
Khan has accused the ISI of providing Rs 140 million to politicians to create the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad and prevent the PPP from winning the 1990 general election.
A banker named Yunus Habib has testified in the apex court that he arranged Rs 1.48 billion for the military.
Habib said millions of rupees were distributed among politicians linked to the army-backed Islami Jamhoori Ittehad.