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ISLAMABAD: Winding up an eight-year-old case involving former ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani, the Supreme Court on Thursday wondered if the state, Constitution, democracy and armed forces were so fragile to be shaken by a mere ‘memo’.

“With the blessings of Allah Almighty the state of Pakistan is strong and not weak to stumble over writing a memorandum,” observed Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa who was heading a three-judge Supreme Court bench.

On a suo motu, the court had taken up a case pertaining to steps being taken by the government for ensuring implementation of the Supreme Court’s earlier directive to bring former ambassador Haqqani back home.

CJP observes state is not so weak as to be shaken up by a mere memo

Mr Haqqani was at the centre of a controversy for sending a memorandum allegedly to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen, seeking direct American intervention to avert a possible overthrow of the civilian government by the military against the backdrop of the US raid at the Abbottabad compound to kill Osama Bin Laden on May 2, 2011.

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

On Thursday, the apex court ordered the state and its machinery to proceed against Mr Haqqani under appropriate laws to arrest or extradite him to Pakistan or initiate a treason case, if so warranted, and said that it seemed nothing needed to be done by the court at this juncture.

At the outset of the proceedings, the chief justice inquired about the whereabouts of the petitioners who earlier were pursuing the case to seek extradition of Mr Haqqani. At this, Additional Attorney General Khurram Saeed said that none seemed to be in attendance.

Then why are we sitting here if no one wants to pursue the case, the court wondered.

The chief justice regretted that the matter had been pending before the court for eight years and even a commission was constituted on the directives of the apex court, which even came up with its findings.

When the court was told that on the basis of the commission’s report an FIR was also registered, the chief justice inquired how this court came in when the government could go after the persons involved and pursue the same.

The chief justice recalled that at a time when the issue was brought to the Supreme Court, a particular government was in place and Mr Haqqani was representing Pakistan as its ambassador to the US.

Now when Mr Haqqani was no longer the ambassador and neither that government was in place, the state could pursue the matter if they so wanted, the chief justice observed, adding that if the person was not within reach, the authorities could adopt measures to bring him back.

The additional attorney general conceded that the Supreme Court could not micromanage everything.

In its order, the chief justice reiterated that the set-up was no longer there, besides the FIR had also been registered in respect of identical allegations levelled by the petitioners and it was the statutory duties of the authorities to pursue the matter.

Moreover, neither the petitioners, who were pursuing the case, appeared before the court on Thursday nor did they seek adjournment of the matter.

“It seems nothing to be done at this juncture that needs intervention of this Supreme Court,” the court observed while disposing of the case.

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2019