Story highlights

The petition was filed in the Supreme Court in 1996 by former Air Force Marshall Asghar Khan

It alleges that Pakistan's controversial spy agency bribed politicians

Former spymaster Gen. Asad Durrani has previously admitted in an affidavit to bribing politicians

(CNN) —  

Pakistan’s highest court began criminal proceedings against former army and intelligence chiefs over allegations of bribery that involved senior politicians in the country’s 1990 general elections.

The petition, filed in the Supreme Court in 1996 by former Air Force Marshall Asghar Khan, alleges that Pakistan’s controversial spy agency – the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI – bribed the politicians to create a government that was more friendly to the military.

“Whoever was involved in that rigging, whether a military official or any civilian, should be brought to justice,” Khan said Friday outside the Supreme Court.

Former spymaster Gen. Asad Durrani has previously admitted in an affidavit to bribing politicians with more than $1.5 million before the 1990 general elections against Pakistan’s former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

He acknowledged paying $39,000 to Nawaz Sharif, a senior opposition political leader, and $56,000 to Pakistan’s largest religious political party, Jamat-e-Islami.

Sharif and his coalition partners subsequently swept the 1990 general elections with a huge majority and Sharif became prime minister.

Durrani also said he had made the payments under the directives of then-Chief of Army Staff Gen. Aslam Baig, an allegation denied by Baig’s legal counsel Akram Sheikh.

Sheikh told CNN that the directives actually came from Ghulam Ishaq Khan, the country’s president at the time.

The ISI has been accused in the past of interfering in the civilian government and most recently came under scrutiny when the Supreme Court demanded the spy agency hand over seven out of 11 illegal detainees to civilian authorities.