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SC to take Memogate case today

02 May, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court will on Wednesday (today) take up the seven-year-old Memogate case against Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States (US) Hussain Haqqani.The case will be heard by a three-member Supreme Court bench.

On March 28, the SC had given a 30-day deadline to the federal government to take steps for bringing back Haqqani.

In compliance with court orders, the interior and foreign secretaries as well as the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) director general will present in court their plan to bring back Haqqani today.

At the last hearing, the chief justice had warned that the court would not accept any excuse after the lapse of the one-month deadline.

He hinted that the court might issue arrest warrants if Haqqani did not return to the country. Further, the court directed media not to take commentaries on the Memogate case, since the matter was sub judice. At the last hearing, FIA director general Bashir Ahmad Memon apprised the court that he had obtained the arrest warrant for Haqqani from the judicial magistrate.

He assured the court that the arrest warrant would be sent to Haqqani’s residence in Karachi and Washington D.C. He had stated that prescribed procedure for issuance of red warrant was being followed.

To a query about Haqqani’s return, the FIA chief had stated that he would approach Interpol for the red warrant once a permanent warrant was issued. He said he would personally go to the U.S. if needed.

The chief justice warned the FIA head that no further delay would be tolerated in Haqqani’s return. He regretted that no positive development had yet taken place despite the lapse of many months.

The Memogate case had emerged in 2011 when Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz claimed to have received an ‘anti-army’ memo from Haqqani, the then-Pakistan envoy in Washington DC, for US joint chiefs chairman Admiral Mike Mullen.

The memo allegedly mentioned a possible army coup in Pakistan following the US raid in Abbottabad to kill Osama bin Laden. It allegedly sought assistance from the US for the then-Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government for ‘reigning in the military and intelligence agencies’.

In 2012, a judicial commission tasked to probe the case had concluded that the memo was authentic and authored by the former envoy. The commission said the purpose of the memo was to convince American officials that Pakistan’s civilian government was pro-US.

The scandal taken to the Supreme Court by then opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and several others, had led to Haqqani’s resignation and subsequent exit from the country as the hearing was under way.

After several years on February 1, 2018, the apex court constituted a three-member bench to resume hearing. Haqqani has denied having anything to do with the memo. According to media reports, on January 21, 2018, three FIRs were registered against Haqqani in two police stations of Kohat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, for allegedly delivering hateful speeches and publishing articles against the armed forces.

Meanwhile, Interpol has reportedly rejected approaches by the FIA for circulation of warrants against former ambassador to the U.S.

On SC’s insistence that Haqqani be brought back to Pakistan within a specified timeframe, the FIA had registered an FIR against him on embezzlement and other charges, hoping that this would get Interpol acceptance of its request. Earlier, Interpol refused to issue warrants against Haqqani on grounds that charges against him were political.

Speaking on the matter, Haqqani said he felt vindicated in his belief that the proceedings against him in the so-called Memogate case were irrelevant in the eyes of the world.

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