Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the anti-corruption agency to take steps to extradite Hussain Haqqani, the country’s ex-ambassador to the US, the central character in the 2011 Memogate scandal.
Haqqani was behind a memo indirectly sent to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen in 2011, a Pakistani judicial commission concluded in 2012. In the memo, Haqqani sought Washington’s help in averting a military coup in Pakistan following the May 2, 2011 US raid that killed Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the garrison city of Abbottabad.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, heading a three-judge bench, expressed displeasure with the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) attempts to extradite Haqqani, who was Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US from 2008 to 2011, and directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to make efforts for his extradition.
Haqqani, 62, is currently Senior Fellow and Director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute, think-tank in Washington.
The apex court also directed the Parliament to legislate on the matter of bringing wanted Pakistanis back home.
“There are hurdles in [bringing wanted persons back to the country] due to a lack of extradition treaties between Pakistan and other countries,” the top judge remarked.
There was a need to explore NAB’s agreements with the United Nations Security Council under which the extradition of accused suspects is possible, he observed.
The court directed the parliament to legislate on extradition agreements with foreign countries within a month.
The bench also ordered the NAB to submit a written reply in one week about steps it will take to bring Haqqani to Pakistan. The hearing was then adjourned for a week, Dawn newspaper reported.
Meanwhile, in a progress report submitted to the Supreme Court, the FIA stated that an interim challan of the Memogate case was submitted in the Court of Special Judge Central, Islamabad on August 7, 2018.
The accused (Haqqani) is still at large and absconding in the US, the report stated, adding that the process to blacklist his Pakistani passport was underway.
According to the report, the National Central Bureau (NCB) of Interpol in Washington “has tentatively confirmed that the accused has been located in the United States”.
It said the interior ministry will forward a request for his extradition to the foreign ministry after seeking the federal Cabinet’s approval.
The agency disclosed that several requests to issue ‘red notice’ against Haqqani are pending decision at the Interpol Secretariat in France, Dawn newspaper reported.
The Supreme Court had on its own taken up a case pertaining to steps being taken by the government to ensure implementation of an earlier apex court order of bringing Haqqani back home.
On June 4, 2013, a nine-judge SC bench, headed by then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had directed the then interior secretary to adopt legal measures ensuring the return of Haqqani to Pakistan.
The court had also hinted at adopting coercive measures in view of the continued refusal of Haqqani to appear before it and honour the commitment he made to come whenever called.
An FIR was registered on March 10 on behalf of the FIA alleged that Haqqani in collaboration with other concerned officials misused his position, committed cheating, criminal breach of trust and misappropriated nearly USD 2 million of the national exchequer of Pakistan per year from 2008 to 2011 dishonestly and fraudulently.