ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was told on Tuesday that the federal government was planning to initiate a case of misuse of funds against former ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani.

Additional Attorney General Muhammad Waqar Rana informed a three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was weighing its options regarding a move to register an FIR against Mr Haqqani, and needed a week’s time.

The apex court had taken up the suo motu case in order to ensure the implementation of an earlier court order to bring Mr Haqqani back to Pakistan.

On June 4, 2013, a nine-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had directed the interior secretary at the time to adopt legal measures to ensure that Mr Haqqani was brought back to Pakistan. The court had also hinted that it would adopt coercive measures in view of the former ambassador’s constant refusal to appear before it.

Mr Haqqani was at the centre of a controversy in which he had 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 in the backdrop of America’s May 2, 2011 raid to kill Osama Bin Laden in an Abbottabad compound.

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 15, the Supreme Court had issued arrest warrants for Mr Haqqani for breaching an earlier undertaking to appear in person before the court on a four-day notice. This was in addition to the FIA’s efforts to approach Interpol’s headquarters in Lyon (France) for the issuance of red warrants against Mr Haqqani.

But on Tuesday, the AAG explained in court that the warrant of arrest issued by the court did not fulfil Interpol’s requirements. One of the conditions for the issuance of red warrants was that the punishment for the offence should spread over at least two years, whereas the arrest warrants issued for Mr Haqqani was for committing contempt of court, the maximum penalty for which was six months, the AAG said.

The federal government had dispatched a set of questions to Interpol on Feb 22, but needed time to furnish a dossier as follow up.

The AAG also requested in-camera proceedings, while stating that though the government did not have issues with an open hearing but every time the court took up the matter, Mr Haqqani and his lobby would become active against Pakistan. The AAG also sought an audience in chamber to share some sensitive information and the court granted permission.

The chief justice observed that nothing could harm Pakistan as long as the blessings of Almighty Allah were with it. The court also wondered whether Mr Haqqani was a dual national or not and asked why the federal government had not proceeded against him in view of the commission’s report submitted earlier.

During the proceedings, a senior FIA officer told the court that the agency had not received any complaint from the Foreign Office against Haqqani. Barrister Zafarullah of the Watan Party, who had filed a petition against Mr Haqqani, argued that the former ambassador was a fugitive of law and had committed treason.

Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2018

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