ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday issued arrest warrants for Hussain Haqqani, former ambassador to the United States, for breaching an earlier undertaking to appear in person before the court on a four-day notice.

The warrants issued by a three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, are in addition to the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) efforts of approaching the Interpol’s headquarters in Lyon (France) for issuance of red warrants against Mr Haqqani.

Additional Attorney General Muhammad Waqar Rana told the court that FIA Director General Bashir Memon and senior representatives of the Foreign Office and the interior ministry had recently held a meeting with the US authorities in this regard, and necessary measures were being taken.

On June 4, 2013, a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had directed the interior secretary at the time to adopt legal measures to ensure Mr Haqqani’s return to Pakistan. The court had also hinted that it might adopt coercive measures in view of Mr Haqqani’s continuous refusal to appear before it, despite his pledges to attend court proceedings whenever called.

The former ambassador to the US was at the centre of a controversy during the Pakistan Peoples Party government when he allegedly sent a memorandum to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen seeking direct US intervention to avert a possible overthrow of the civilian government by the military against the backdrop of the May 2, 2011 raid by US Navy Seals to kill Osama Bin Laden.

Later, the Supreme Court constituted a judicial commission which, on June 12, 2012, held Mr Haqqani as the originator and architect of the memo.

At the last hearing on Feb 8, the court was told that neither his counsel the late Asma Jahangir nor his Advocate-on-Record (AoR) Chaudhry Akhtar Ali had received any instructions from him. The AoR also presented a fax message suggesting that Mr Haqqani was not willing to attend court proceedings.

Asif Hashmi arrested

Separately, the same bench also ordered the immediate arrest of Asif Hashmi, a former chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), when he appeared in the court on Thursday.

The apex court took exception to the grant of pre-arrest bail to Mr Hashmi by various courts, including Lahore Central Special Judge Mohammad Rafeeq and Justice Ali Baqar Najfi.

The court was told that Mr Hashmi was facing at least six various cases in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. Then the court directed the relevant courts to decide all bail pleas in a week and directed the FIA to submit the details of all cases against Mr Hashmi.

Mr Hashmi is believed to be facing cases earlier discovered by the FIA, in which the ETPB failed to safeguard its interests by investing in real estate in the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) Lahore and suffered a staggering loss of Rs1.9bn in the business.

Mr Hashmi was appointed chairman during the previous PPP government. He had later fled to the United Arab Emirates.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2018

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