LAHORE - The closure of Asghar Khan case will obviously be an embarrassment for the PPP but the party is not likely to drag the issue too far given the fact that the main accused in this entire tale, the PML-N, is sailing with it in the same boat and they both need mutual help to get themselves out.

The FIA has filed a report in the Supreme Court praying for closing down the 25-year-old Asghar Khan case as no evidence is available to prima facie prove the allegations and arrest the persons named in the case. Former head of Tehreek-e-Istaqlal Party Asghar Khan had accused the former president of PML-N and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shehbaz Sharif, among other politicians and businessmen, to have received money, allegedly through ISI, for buckling up an electoral alliance by the name of IJI to check the way of Benazir Bhutto-led PPP to victory in elections held in 1990. The PPP over the years has been promoting its politics on this case to undermine the rival mainstream, PML-N so that on the basis of this ‘1990 conspiracy’, it could claim its undiminished popularity side by side instilling leadership worth of the party in the eye of the Jiyalas. Therefore Asghar Khan case has been a handy tool in the hands of the PPP to get a psychological upper hand in the national politics. The PPP also utilised the case to show how state institutions have been hampering the way of the party to power. And shelving of the case, which has not come about through the Supreme Court as yet, will not only denude it of a weapon against the rivals but also clear the position of the politicians and the institutions which were alleged to have acted in cahoots against the party in the relevant election, say the political observers.

In his case former air chief Asghar Khan had alleged that Rs140million obtained from a banker Younas Habib, were doled out among politicians and others through then ISI, Lt-Gen Asad Durrani, at the behest of then Army Chief Mirza Aslam Beg to create political alliance against the PPP. Mr Durrani, in his book, had mentioned about distribution of money but not through the ISI while the former army chief was probed at the military level as he denied to have committed any illegal act.

The Supreme Court, during its proceedings in the case in August 2015, had entrusted the FIA with inquiry to probe allegations and lately it had informed the court in black and white for closing the case as no evidence was available and the politicians named herein as accused had also denied the allegations.

Talking to this scribe, PPP Punjab Secretary General Hassan Murtaza said that his party wanted implementation on the case verdict and for that end it will give representation in the apex court. Murtaza said the FIA report was in fact prepared by the PTI government as this agency was under the interior ministry and the agency report aimed at making political gains and please certain quarters. He said the PPP had record of giving sacrifices for the sake of democracy and uphold rule of law for which it took difficult decisions in the past regardless of the fact that they cost the party. This time too, the party was ready to render any sacrifice for the sake of rule of law and protect democracy, he added.

However political observers, expressing their views about other side of the picture, say the PPP may not mind too much if FIA succeeds in its plea. Without prejudice to the court proceedings in the case, they say the PPP given the situation when its leadership is walking on a tight rope due to money laundering and fake accounts case, may not like to go all out against the PML-N, whose leaders are also in troubled water. Both the parties although are rival in Asghar Khan case, but they are friends on ground at the moment. These parties are sitting on the opposition benches while outside the parliament they are in a protective mode against the PTI tirade on the leadership of each other. As such the PPP would not like to ruffle the feathers of the PML-N and vice versa at this stage on any issue when they have a common rival like the PTI government and the NAB against which they will not afford to divide their power particularly when they are threatening the PTI with no-trust motion against former’s assault on the PPP government in Sindh.