Pakistan's defence ministry on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that there is no political cell within the Inter Services Intelligence, adding another twist to a case regarding the powerful spy agency's alleged efforts to influence national politics.
A military official representing the defence ministry told a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry that no political cell was operating in the ISI.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by former air force chief Asghar Khan about the distribution of money among politicians by the ISI in 1990.
The Chief Justice reacted to the official's remarks by saying that a letter submitted to the apex court on June 26, 1997 had stated that a political cell was functioning within the ISI.
The official told the court that the defence ministry had confirmed the information regarding the political cell with the ISI before submitting its response to the bench.
The bench directed the official to submit the ministry's reply after getting it signed by the defence secretary.
The bench also summoned the interior and defence secretaries to appear before it later in the day.
The court had earlier sought a report from the interior and defence ministries after Attorney General Irfan Qadir told the bench that the notification issued to create the ISI's political cell was missing.
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 Pakistan People's Party from winning the 1990 general election.
The then ISI chief Asad Durrani has acknowledged that he distributed the money on the orders of former army chief Mirza Aslam Beg. 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 in a bid to prevent the PPP from coming to power.