–Haqqani terms FIA report as ‘another gimmick’
ISLAMABAD: Interpol has refused to act against former Pakistani ambassador to the United States (US) Husain Haqqani, saying there were no criminal charges against Haqqani and the international law did not have any provision for action against an individual refusing to appear before a court in a political case.
An in-camera hearing of the Memogate case was held on December 31, 2018, to avoid the risk of embarrassment due to an international refusal by keeping the information under wraps, sources familiar with the case said.
In January 2018, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar had reopened the Memogate case after a hiatus of five years in an open court. “Where is Husain Haqqani?” the top judge had asked, after which he issued warrants for his appearance before the court.
Subsequently, several first information reports (FIRs) were registered against Haqqani on the grounds of treason and the matter was once again referred to Interpol. This time Interpol responded by saying that treason was not an extraditable offence and is considered as a political charge under international law.
The then deputy attorney general had said that the only way to bring Haqqani back was to charge him some crime and as a result, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was directed to register a case Haqqani for embezzlement and misappropriation. The chief justice also appointed Ahmer Bilal Soofi, an expert in international law, as amicus curiae in May 2018 to help the court figure out ways to bring Haqqani back.
At Soofi’s suggestion, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and FIA were tasked to issue new warrants related to embezzlement and misappropriation against Haqqani. NAB later excused itself from the process, leaving FIA to deal with the matter.
Interpol examined Pakistan’s new requests and concluded that corruption charges against Haqqani were only a pretext to bring him back to the country. On December 31, chief justice, accepting Soofi’s suggestion, heard the case in the chambers instead of an open court.
When contacted, Husain Haqqani spoke from Washington DC about his confidence in the face of “false charges which would not hold up outside Pakistan”. Haqqani said that the entire matter is part of the Pakistani establishment’s plan to paint dissenters as traitors and criminals. “The plan will not work in the international arena,” he added.
HAQQANI TERMS FIA REPORT AS ‘ANOTHER GIMMICK’:
Speaking about the report submitted by the FIA to the Supreme Court (SC), he said that it was “another gimmick aimed to stir the Pakistani media”. He said that the cases alleging financial crimes were registered in March 2018, seven years after he left office and only after the authorities had failed to silence him with other charges, including that of treason.
“I have not received any warrants or inquiries from Pakistani authorities over the last seven years even though these are periodically reported in the Pakistani media,” he said, adding that “new allegations filed more than seven years after my forced resignation are obviously manufactured and those making these allegations know that these are not true.”
The former ambassador also said that he doubts that the Pakistani government would initiate extradition proceedings against him because “they are certain to fail and in the process, an examination would open up of their secret service expenditures in the US”.
FIA had submitted a report to the apex court in the Husain Haqqani extradition case and said that the former ambassador embezzled $8 million in secret service funds during his tenure. In addition to this, FIA stated that “important meetings were held in the foreign ministry, including a meeting on December 19 on additional secretary-level”.
Reportedly, FIA had handed over extradition documents comprising 355 pages to the interior ministry and the documents had been forwarded to the foreign ministry on December 12.
“Haqqani, who served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US from May 2008 to November 2011, embezzled $2 million annually in secret service funds, amounting to a total of $8 million,” the report stated.
Following this, a case was lodged against the former diplomat in March 2018 over misuse of funds and a challan against Haqqani had also been presented in the court of special judge central, Islamabad. Moreover, a request to cancel his travel documents was also submitted to the court.