Govt seeking extradition of Haqqani from US on embezzlement charges

Updated 05 Jan 2019

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Hussain Haqqani was at the centre of the Memogate scandal. — File photo
Hussain Haqqani was at the centre of the Memogate scandal. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: After failing to get former ambassador Hussain Haqqani through Interpol, the government has initiated the process of seeking his extradition from the United States through the Foreign Office on allegations of embezzlement.

“The Ministry of Interior has transferred a 355-page extradition dossier to the Foreign Office, which will be sent to the State Department for Mr Haqqani’s extradition,” a source told Dawn.

In this connection deliberations are being held within the Foreign Office over legal aspects of the case.

Interior ministry has transferred a 355-page dossier to Foreign Office to be sent to State Department for the purpose

The Supreme Court had, through a suo motu notice related to implementation of an earlier SC order of bringing Mr Haqqani back, directed the government to ensure his repatriation.

A nine-member SC bench, headed by the then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had on June 4, 2013, directed the government to use all legal channels to bring him back.

Mr Haqqani, who was at the centre of a controversy over allegedly sending a memorandum to the then US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen seeking his direct intervention to avert a possible overthrow of the PPP government by the military, is currently based in the United States.

A commission constituted by the Supreme Court commonly known as the ‘Memogate Commission’ had in its report held Mr Haqqani as the originator and architect of the memo.

The government has on at least a couple of occasions in the past sought Interpol warrants for Mr Haqqani’s arrest, but could not convince the international criminal police to act. On one occasion the request for warrants was turned down because of the absence of a criminal charge, while the second time, when a treason charge had been made against the former envoy, the request was not entertained because treason did not constitute grounds for extradition under the international law, a source said.

Later, in March 2018, seven years after Mr Haqqani’s resignation over the memogate scandal, a case of embezzlement of $2 million was registered against him, which is now being made the basis for seeking his extradition.

But, legal experts say, the US Statute of Limitations require that a case must have been initiated within five years of the crime and hence Mr Haqqani’s case does not fulfil that condition.

The sources at the Foreign Office, who have been following the case, too didn’t appear very hopeful about the extradition request that they would be making. Besides the Statute of Limitations handicap, it is said Pakistan and the US do not have bilateral extradition treaty even though the latter has in the past considered the former’s extradition requests on merit. Admiral Mansurul Haq and Hamish Khan of the Bank of Punjab were extradited in the past.

The US, legal experts say, does not extradite in ‘political cases’ and Mr Haqqani’s case potentially falls within the political category. They believe that even if the State Department agrees, the process could entail lengthy court proceedings in the US before the extradition could actually take place.

They note that the shifting grounds for seeking Mr Haqqani’s extradition have damaged the case as well.

Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2019