New controversy over Hussain Haqqani surfaced

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FIA alleges $8m embezzlement in secret fund
SC already issued arrest warrant on 15th Feb 2018
Haqqani terms FIA report as ‘another gimmick’
Interpol refuses to arrest former Pak envoy

Nation special report

LONDON: In a latest development in Hussain Haqqani saga, the Interpol has refused to act against former Pakistani ambassador to US and Sri Lanka. According to Pak media sources, an in-camera hearing of the Memogate case was held in Islamabad on December 31, 2018, to avoid the risk of embarrassment due to an international refusal by keeping the information under wraps.

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.

Interpol responded to those warrants by pointing out that 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.

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.

Husain Haqqani’s stand:

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.

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 the 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”. He further said that instead of targeting him with false charges and propaganda, his detractors in “Pakistan’s deep state” should address the issues he raises in his writings and speeches about the country’s direction.

Haqqani described the various charges against him, from the Memogate case to the latest accusations, as “a farce”, adding that everyone knows that “they are bothered by my views, not my actions or decisions I may have taken as an ambassador seven years ago”.

Husain Haqqani, said he had not received any warrants about inquiries from Pakistani authorities over the past seven years. “It seems to be another gimmick aimed to gullible Pakistani media. New allegations filed more than seven years after my forced resignation are obviously manufactured,” Mr Haqqani said in a press statement. “I doubt that Pakistan government will initiate extradition proceedings that are certain to fail and, in the process, open up examination of their secret expenditures in the US.”

Pakistan has initiated a process of seeking the extradition of Mr Haqqani through the Foreign Office on embezzlement charges after it failed to get him through Interpol. The Supreme Court had issued warrants to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to produce Mr Haqqani in the court in January last year, but the Interpol did not issue a warrant for him. Mr Haqqani, 62, was Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US from May 27, 2008 to Nov 22, 2011, one of the most tumultuous periods of US-Pakistan relations.

As part of the extradition process, the interior ministry has also sent a 355-page dossier to the Foreign Office, which will be forwarded to the US State Department.

FIA report:

FIA had submitted a report to 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 alleged.

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.

Arrest warrant:

It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan Supreme Court on 15th February 2018, issued an arrest warrant for Hussain Haqqani. The apex court directed him to appear in the Memogate case but the latter failed to comply with the court orders. Additional Attorney General Rana Waqar told the top court that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has asked Interpol to issue a red warrant for Haqqani,

Earlier, AAG Rana Waqar told the bench that they had spoken to officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Interior Ministry, as well as the FIA chief regarding the matter. Subsequently, a committee had been constituted to take up the issue with the relevant authorities in the United States, Waqar said, adding that it had done so.