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Commission didn't declare Haqqani a traitor, says SC

13 July, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday clarified that the memo commission had not declared Pakistan's former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani a traitor.

The court also said that Haqqani was neither an accused nor a trial was being conducted, as the court would decide in that regard after hearing all the parties.

The court also allowed Asma Jahangir, counsel for the former ambassador, to file an application within three days, seeking for her client an exception from appearing before the court in the memo case. A nine-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, also sought replies from the petitioners on Haqqani's objections over the memo commission's report.

During the hearing, the bench asked Asma that why her client was not appearing on the court's directions. She replied that Haqqani's life was in "grave danger". She also clarified that her client had not said that he would not return to Pakistan, but he had certain reservations in that regard.

Justice Tariq Pervez said that he should approach the government and not the court for getting security.

Asma said the government was not providing security to Haqqani, adding that they had contacted the attorney general of Pakistan for that purpose but nobody had responded.

"Haqqani was being provided security when he was useful. We contacted the government regarding his security, but have not been given a reply," Asma said.

She also argued that the commission's report had painted her client as a traitor. Upon this, the court observed that the commission had just expressed an opinion, adding that it was not a ruling.

During the hearing, Asma also read out her client's letter before the bench. Haqqani in his letter stated that due to security reasons, he was not coming back to Pakistan.

"I will not risk my life until the circumstances that have put my life in jeopardy have changed," his letter stated, adding, "Given the current mood and environment in the country, where individuals are being burnt alive on unproved charges of blasphemy and ethnic, political and sectarian killings are going unnoticed, it is unreasonable to pressure me to return to the country to respond to political accusations based on the word of a foreigner," the letter read. "I have neither been charged or tried nor convicted of any crime under the laws of Pakistan and yet I have been painted as a criminal in the eyes of the general public."

He said the media had painted him "variously as a 'traitor', 'Pakistan's Benedict Arnold', and 'disloyal to the Pakistani state'", insisting that these were extreme characterisations by people who disagreed with him politically.

Asma requested the court to review its order of summoning Haqqani in the given circumstances, saying the situation in the country was not in her client's favour and he faced many threats. The court, granting Haqqani's counsel three days to file the exemption application, adjourned the hearing for indefinite period.


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