ISLAMABAD – Pakistan's top court recommended Friday that the government launch legal proceedings against a former army chief and head of intelligence for allegedly bankrolling politicians running against the current ruling party in the 1990 election.
The landmark ruling related to a case filed 16 years ago by a retired air marshal, Asghar Khan, accusing the Inter-Services Intelligence agency of distributing the money through a secret cell set up under the supervision of late President Ghulam Ishaq Khan.
The decision is the latest example of the Supreme Court's increasing activism against the civilian government and the military. The military and its intelligence agencies have been accused of interfering in politics many times in the past, but legal action against them is rare.
The court said ex-President Khan, former army chief Aslam Baig and retired ISI chief Asad Durrani "acted in violation of the constitution" and their actions "brought a bad name to Pakistan and its armed forces as well as secret agencies in the eyes of the nation." Khan died in 2006.
The judges ordered the federal government to "take necessary steps under the constitution and law against them."
The court also recommended that legal action be taken against politicians who allegedly received money and were running against the Pakistan People's Party in the election. The names of the politicians were not provided in the court order.
Intelligence agencies "have no role to play in the political affairs of the country such as formation or destabilization of government," the court said.
Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf praised the court's ruling and promised the government would conduct a thorough investigation.
"Today is the day of triumph of democracy," Ashraf told reporters in Islamabad.
Also Friday, a bomb attached to a bicycle exploded as a paramilitary vehicle drove by in Quetta, the capital of southwest Baluchistan province. Two soldiers and one civilian were killed, said police official Hamid Shakil. Fifteen people, including four soldiers, were also wounded in the attack, he said.
Associated Press writer Abdul Sattar contributed to this report from Quetta, Pakistan.