islamabad - A writ petition challenging the legal status of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs (SAPM) Tariq Fatemi has been moved in the Islamabad High Court.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Athar Minallah will conduct hearing of the petition moved by Raja Zhaoor-ul-Hassan Advocate on Wednesday (today).

Besides challenging the legal status of special assistant to the prime minister on foreign affairs, the petitioner has also alleged monetary corruption on him. The petitioner has prayed to the court to issue directions for the removal of Fatemi and initiate NAB and FIA investigations against him.

Raja Zahoor adopted in his petition that Foreign Office bosses remained quite oblivious to their duties that resulted in a chaotic situation where Pakistan has been isolated from rest of the world. The Foreign Office also failed to highlight success of its armed forces against terrorism at the international level. 

He stated that Prime Minister of Pakistan appointed Fatemi on June 2013 as his special assistant but he has virtually taken control of the minister of state office and have access to the sensitive information concerning the state of Pakistan.

He added that ever since appointment of Fatemi, the ministry of foreign affairs has been in a state of paralysis and confusion due to rivalry amongst bureaucracy, special advisor, special assistant and sheer incompetence leading to current foreign policy debacle.

The petitioner maintained that the special assistance is not a constitutional post and does not require the holder to take oath. Similarly special assistant does not possess executive authority, as he is not part of the official bureaucracy. Likewise, special assistant to the prime minister is not accountable to the Parliament.

He contended that due to nature of his duties, Fatemi requires to sit in the Prime Minister Secretariat. However he has imposed himself upon the ministry of foreign affairs and has virtually taken over the office of minister of state. Using his proximity to the prime minister, he verbally demands the officers of ministry of foreign affairs, all the sensitive files, and verbally passes instructions thereon to the employees of Foreign Affairs, which ultimately form the basis of national foreign policy.

Raja alleged that Fatemi has used his influence in the appointment of some ambassadors to please his business friends, without merit criteria. One Nadir Chaudhry appointed as Pakistan’s ambassador in Morocco is a UK national and Taiq Azeem was appointed as high commissioner in Canada despite the fact that he is also a British national.

He continued that Tariq Fatemi used his influence to elevate his wife as patron of the ministry of foreign affairs’ women NGO, Pakistan Foreign Office Women Association (PFOWA). Mrs Fatemi besides being the patron of PFOWA also runs an NGO by the name of True Worth Foundation. She received an amount of Rs 300,000 donation for True Worth through PFOWA. This amount was donated by a CEO of a private school to PFOWA.

He further alleged that Fatemi and his wife are instrumental in handing over 10 kanals of land plot to the same private school that was originally donated to PFOWA for welfare purposes. Now Chairman CDA has declared transfer of the plot as illegal and Senate committee wants to refer the matter to either NAB or FIA where Mr and Mrs Fatemi are quite active to stall the investigation.

He added that Fatemi misused his authority to solicit and obtain US $71,000 from the embassy of Japan for his privately run NGO True Worth Foundation.

Therefore, he prayed to the court to direct the authorities to remove Fatemi from the office and FIA and NAB may be directed to investigate his matters related to conflict of interest and foreign office may be directed not to share sensitive information with him.

Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court yesterday turned down a petition seeking court’s directions to declare the appointment of chairman Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Zafarul Haq Hijazi as unlawful.

A single bench of IHC bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah dismissed the petition by terming the petition as lacking of merits.

In this matter, a petitioner Naseem Iqbal moved the court through his counsel Asma Jehangir Advocate and had challenged the appointment of SECP chairman. He had nominated Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, secretary ministry of law, secretary finance and chairman SECP as respondents.

He had adopted before the court that chairman SECP Hijazi was initially appointed as the Commissioner SECP in1999 and after completion of first tenure was again re-appointed. His second tenure expired in 2004. However, the incumbent SECP chairman Hijazi on December 2014 secured third term appointment only due to his connections with a minister in the federal government.

He argued that the posts of the commissioner were not advertised to fulfil the statutory requirement of expertise, experience and eminence and the appointment of Hijazi as third time SECP Commissioner, is in violation of relevant laws and judgments of the superior courts. He continued that the appointment was a result of nepotism as Hijazi had been a former colleague of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

The petitioner alleged that while recommending and making appointment of Hijazi as SECP chairman, the finance minister and secretary finance have “acted in bad faith against the interests of public at large.”

The petitioner’s counsel had been arguing before the court that Zafarul Haq could not get appointed third time as ‘commissioner’ under the rules. She referred the appointment criteria of prosecutor general National Accountability Bureau (NAB) who could not be reappointed after completing his term in the office.

On the other hand, the SECP counsel claimed that the appointment was on merit and as per rules and procedures. Section 7 of the SECP rules deals with the appointment of the chairman and that did not impose any restriction over the reappointment.

After hearing the arguments of both the sides, the IHC bench had reserved its verdict in this matter last month that was announced on Tuesday.