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August 31, 2018
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Memogate case: SC directs NAB to bring Haqqani back

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August 31, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Thursday tasked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) with bringing back Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US, as his offence fell in the domain of the anti-graft body.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, resumed the hearing of the Memogate case. Justice Umer Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsen are members of the bench.

The court directed the government to place before parliament, within a month, the draft of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) law being prepared for repatriation of Pakistani nationals involved in crimes.

The chief justice took notice of the Memogate case in March and gave the government one month notice for repatriation of Haqqani. Haqqani is the central character in 2011 Memogate scandal.

The court had also appointed Ahmer Bilal Sufi, advocate, an expert on foreign litigation, as amicus curie (friend of court) for assistance in the repatriation process. Replying to a question of the chief justice, Sufi explainedhat the FIA should have detailed MLA rules, as it dealt with several transnational crimes including drugs, corruption, cyber, human trafficking and even terrorism.

He further contended that the MLA law could facilitate the investigating agency in obtaining assistance, information, evidence and other forms of cooperation and the same could be very beneficial in the context of FATF evaluation.

Sufi also referred to various provisions of the UN convention against corruption to explain that how criminal breach of trust was extraditable under the UN multilateral treaty to which both Pakistan and the US were parties.

Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mahmood informed the court that work on preparing the draft of MLA law was in process. The court directed the NAB to start the process for repatriation of Haqqani and submit a report.

The government was also directed to complete the draft of MLA law and place it before Parliament in a month. Sufi had told the apex court on August 9 that Haqqani could be repatriated to Pakistan for being charged with criminal breach of trust, misappropriation, cheating and embezzlement.

Submitting a complete report along with some proper guidelines for the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA), he suggested that Pakistan may also take up the repatriation matter with the US on reciprocity basis, as it had been extending them full cooperation in handing over suspects earlier.

Sufi submitted that Haqqani had failed to account for the funds handed over to him by the Government of Pakistan in his capacity as the then ambassador to the United States. He said a formal FIR (No. [7/2018] dated 10.3.2018) had been registered against him under Sections 3,4,409,109 PPC r/w 5(2) 47 PCA.

“This relates to the charge of criminal breach of trust, misappropriation, cheating and embezzlement and the offences under which the said FIR has also been lodged overlaps with the offence of corruption and corrupt practices under section 9(a)(xi) of National Accountability Bureau Ordinance, 1999 (the NAB Ordinance”, Sufi submitted.

He contended that the said offence under 409 PPC and simultaneously under Section 9(a)(xi) of the NAB Ordinance was extraditable under Article 17 of UN Convention against Corruption 2003 read with Article 44 of the said Convention (which acts as a multilateral extradition treaty between Pakistan and United States) and the Government of Pakistan through NAB can commence the extradition process in respect of the said offence.

He further submitted that the proceedings could commence as per procedure provided under Section 15 of the Pakistan Extradition Act 1972. Meanwhile, the FIA submitted a progress report to the court and revealed that an interim challan of the Memogate case was submitted to the Court of Special Judge Central, Islamabad on August 7, 2018.

The court was told that the accused was an absconder living in the US. The court was also told that the process to blacklist Haqqani's Pakistani passport was under way. The court was further informed that the National Central Bureau (NCB) of Interpol in Washington "has tentatively confirmed that the accused has been located in the United States".

The report further stated that the Ministry of Interior will forward a request for his extradition to the foreign ministry after seeking the federal cabinet's approval. The foreign ministry will then forward the request to the US government after which the FIA will coordinate the matter through the US Embassy in Islamabad, as well as NCB- Interpol.

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