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Pakistan high court recommends probe of 1990 election bribery scandal

The Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] issued a short order [text, PDF] on Friday instructing the government to launch legal proceedings against a former army chief and intelligence director for their involvement in the country's 1990 election bribery scandal. The case was originally brought 16 years ago and alleges that the defendants illegally financed the campaigns of certain political candidates in the 1990 election. Former Army Chief Mirza Aslam Baig and Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Asad Durrani are accused of supporting and facilitating the illegal funding in hopes of defeating the then-ruling political Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) [party website]. The court found that there was sufficient evidence to support charges against the two officials, noting that former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan, who is now deceased, was also likely involved in the scandal. The court ordered a transparent investigation by the country's Federal Investigation Agency [official website], criminal charges to be brought against the officials, and for those still living to be brought to trial.

This decision comes in the wake of years of hearings dating back to the 1996 petition filed by Khan, a former Air Marshal. The petition resurfaced in the Supreme Court in February [CNN report]. The 1990 election was a victory for the right-wing political party [BBC timeline], the Islamic Democratic Alliance (IDA). It resulted in the defeat of a number of different PPP officials, including the highly-revered former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive]. Bhutto was assassinated [JURIST report] in a suicide attack in 2007 at a rally in Rawalpindi while campaigning for her party in the lead-up to the 2008 parliamentary elections.

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