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SC threatens coercive measures to bring Haqqani back

29 January, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has warned that it could use coercive measures to bring former ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani back to Pakistan, if he does not return to the country himself as per his commitment.

The apex court issued the warning during the hearing of memogate case. A nine-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry heard the case regarding the alleged memorandum sent to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen by Haqqani. The former ambassador's counsel, Asma Jahangir, told the court that her client could not appear before the court physically due to threats to his life.

To a question by the court about Haqqani's attendance, Asma said, "Do whatever you have to do. I cannot personally go abroad to bring him back." She said Haqqani has been suffering from "insecurity phobia". The counsel further said that on November 13, 2012, the court had ordered the Interior Ministry secretary to provide complete security to the former Pakistani envoy. "It means that you wanted to summon my client at any cost," Asma said, adding that "he (Haqqani) neither came to Pakistan and nor was he in the country".

The chief justice observed that the court had issued an order that the former Pakistani envoy had to appear before the court. Meanwhile, during the hearing, Asma submitted a letter written to the Interior Ministry with regards to her client's security. She informed the court that Haqqani cannot appear before the court due to security concerns. She further said that the former ambassador to the US has been receiving threats through social media and asked the authorities to investigate the matter.

Citing threats to Haqqani, his counsel told the court that she could not remove the security phobia from the mind of Haqqani. The chief justice said that the SC registrar had held a meeting with the Islamabad inspector general of police on January 26 regarding the security issue. The IGP had to inform the interior secretary to ensure security to Haqqani. However, Asma said that neither the Islamabad IGP nor the SC registrar office had informed her about provision of security to her client.

"He (Haqqani) is not an absconder and can't risk his life," Asma stressed. The chief justice told her that they were concerned with his appearance in the court. "The court cannot testify that there is danger to his life. When orders of the courts are passed, everyone in the country is bound to obey those," he observed. Asma said that she had also sent an application after July 12 last year, but it was objected to by the registrar office, saying that they should first seek review of the order.

Objecting to formation of a commission on the alleged memo, the former president of Supreme Court Bar Association said that she had never seen a probe body constituted in such cases. To this, the chief justice observed that formation of a commission was not a new thing. About holding of a meeting under the Supreme Court's order of December last, she said that they were not informed about it as well by the interior secretary.

Asma also requested the bench to defer proceedings till next week as she was leaving for Geneva on Tuesday in connection with responsibilities assigned to her by the UN with regard to Israeli settlements in Palestinian areas. The bench accepted her request and adjourned the hearing of the case till February 12 and issued a notice to interior secretary. The secretary was directed to appear on the next hearing and confirm receipt of Asma's letter addressed to him on December 31, 2012, and explain why Haqqani was not informed about adequate security arrangements.


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