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February 9, 2018

Memogate case: Govt assures SC of bringing back Haqqani

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February 9, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Thursday assured the Supreme Court of bringing back Hussain Haqqani, former ambassador to the United States.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan heard the Memogate case. Last week, the chief justice, while hearing the voting rights of overseas Pakistanis case, inquired about Hussain Haqqani and questioned as to why not serve a notice to former envoy Hussain Haqqani to come and face the case.

The chief justice then asked his office for the Memogate case file and for fixing the instant case. The memo in question, allegedly delivered to American officials at Haqqani’s behest in May 2011, had exposed serious rifts between the PPP government and the army after a US-based businessman brought it to light.

On Thursday, the court went through previous orders passed by the apex court regarding the matter and observed that after his resignation, Haqqani had left the country on the assurance that he would return, but never did.

Waqar Rana, additional attorney general, reminded the court that it had previously ordered a former interior secretary to bring Haqqani back and ensure his safety in Pakistan. The court questioned as to what measures did the interior ministry take on the court’s orders? Waqar Rana replied that none had been taken according to his information.

Meanwhile, the court summoned the secretaries interior and foreign affairs as well as FIA director general to state as to what measures could be taken for bringing back Hussain Haqqani. Later, at 1 pm, additional secretary interior, director US Desk, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bilal Hayee, and FIA Director General Bashir Memon appeared before the court.

The court asked Additional Attorney General Waqar Rana to read out the previous court orders passed on January 3, 2012 and on June 4, 2013. In the court order passed on January 3, 2012, the court had noted that Hussain Haqqani had filed an application giving an undertaking that he will be fully cooperating with the commission and prayed for permission to go abroad with the commitment that he will return whenever the court required. After furnishing the undertaking, the court allowed Haqqani to proceed abroad.

Similarly, in the order passed by the apex court on June 4, 2013, the court noted that his counsel had told the court that the order of the court was communicated to Haqqani but he apprehended danger to his life. The court in its order held that the country is government by a constitution, adding that all institutions including the judiciary believes in the rule of law with direction to executive to ensure protection to Haqqani.

The court had directed the interior secretary to ensure the commitment made by Haqqani and also his return to country and sought reply from the government after four weeks.

After going through the previous orders, the chief justice said he will seek an explanation from his office as to why the instant case was not fixed. Additional Attorney General assured the court that measures would be taken to bring Haqqani back for which he sought some time. “What measures you will be taking to bring him back?” Justice Ijazul Ahsan asked the additional attorney general.

The law officer said he will sit with the officials of ministry of interior, foreign affairs as well as FIA director general and will deliberate upon as to what legal measures could be taken in bringing back Haqqani.

Meanwhile Barrister Zafarullah, one of the petitioners brought into the notice of chief justice regarding a news item appearing in a section of the press and produced the clippings of that news wherein Haqqani has dismissed reports of the infamous Memogate case being reopened as a ‘political gimmick’ on part of the Supreme Court. “I will not come to Pakistan on the insistence of Babay Rehmatay (wise old man),” Haqqani stated. Waqar Rana told the court that Haqqani frequently abuses the courts of the country. The chief justice, however, said he would not react to the remarks made by the former ambassador, but the Memogate matter concerned the country’s honour and would be pursued diligently.

The court also dismissed Haqqani’s review petitions against the Supreme Court order to form a commission to probe the Memogate. The review petitions have been dismissed on non-prosecution. During the hearing, Advocate on Record (AOR) Ch Akhtar and Asma Jahangir appeared before the bench and stated that they have been instructed not to plead his case, therefore, they are withdrawing ‘Wakalatnaama’.

The court directed secretaries ministry of interior, foreign affairs as well as FIA director general to adopt all constitutional and legal steps for bringing back Hussain Haqqani and submit compliance report within a week.

The court also directed that the breach of commitment made by Haqqani and declining to come to Pakistan should also be examined by the competent authorities and adjourned the hearing for a week.

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