ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Thursday handed over the matter of alleged corruption and misappropriation committed by former envoy to US Husain Haqqani to the National Accountability Bureau with the directions for initiation of steps for his extradition. The top court also directed NAB to submit a written reply within one week about steps for Haqqani’s extradition.
In 2011, former Pakistan Ambassador to US Husain Haqqani had allegedly delivered a memo to former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen through Mansoor Ijaz.
The memo allegedly had requested US for its support to Pakistani civilian government against its military establishment after May 2 raid.
On January 29, the Chief Justice while hearing a case regarding right of vote to overseas Pakistanis had summoned details of the Memogate case.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had also informed the court that FIR had also been registered against Haqqani and red warrants had been issued from the concerned courts.
Haqqani in his undertaking submitted with the top court had assured it that he would return and appear before the court if and when required. The undertaken was accepted and Haqqani flew abroad.
FIR registered on March 10, 2018 stated: “it revealed that accused Husain Haqqani during his posting as ambassador of Pakistan in USA (from May 2008 to November 2011) in collaboration with other concerned officers/officials misused his official position, committed cheating, criminal breach of trust and misappropriated approximately $2 million of national exchequer of Pakistan per year dishonestly and fraudulently.”
During the FIA’s investigation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the release of $4.1 million during August 18, 2008 to 15 November 2011. According to the FIA’s progress report as of August 30 of 2018, interim challan of the case has been submitted in the court of Special Judge Central on August 7. Haqqani is still at large absconding in the US while blacklisting of Haqqani’s Pakistani Passport is in the process.
Regarding FIA’s steps for Haqqani’s extradition, sending extradition requests to INTERPOL has been matured and the documents are being submitted through diplomatic channel through Ministry of Interior being the Central Authority.
In its progress report, FIA stated that interior ministry would secure approval of the federal cabinet for Haqqani’s extradition before sending the documents to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Once the extradition document is forwarded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on to US government, FIA will be coordinating the matter through the office of Legal Attache of the US Embassy in Islamabad as well as INTERPOL.
“Several requests for INTERPOL Red Notice are still pending decision at the INTERPOL Secretariat in Lyon, France,” the report added.
On August 9, the International Law expert Ahmer Bilal Soofi, who was appointed by the top court as its amicus curie (friend of court), opined that Haqqani’s extradition in contempt of court cannot be made possible.
He had stated that extradition process needed to be invoked through NAB on account of criminal breach of trust allegedly committed by Haqqani in funds.
“NAB has the option to process the request for extradition under Article 44 or chapter IV of United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) 2003, which can be used by member states for bilateral extradition,” Soofi had informed the bench.
Soofi had further apprised the court that NAB could also explore options relating to mutual legal assistance in the said matter under Section 21 of NAB Ordinance.
According to Soofi, two separate offences transpired attributed to Haqqani. The first include Haqqani’s breach of undertaking which he gave to the top court as well as to the Special Commission wherein he voluntarily promised to return and appear. His breach of the undertaking constitutes contempt of court in terms of Article 204 of the Constitution, Soofi had stated.
He added that Haqqani was also facing a charge of criminal breach of trust on the grounds that he had failed to account for the funds handed over to him by the government in his capacity as the then ambassador to the US. “This relates to the charge of criminal breach of trust, misappropriation, cheating and embezzlement.
The offences under which the said FIR has also been lodged overlaps with the offence of corruption and corrupt practices under Section 9 of NAB Ordinance.” He had further submitted that there were two broad international agreements to govern the process of extradition between Pakistan and the USA.
The one international agreement, he said, was USA-UK Treaty of 1932, to which Pakistan succeeded as a successor state after independence, and extraditable offences enlisted in Article 3.
The second one, he had added, was UNCAC 2003 which was a multi-lateral treaty but can be used as a bilateral instrument by virtue of Chapter VI for extradition in respect of crimes covered under the instrument.
He apprised that the Contempt of Court was neither listed as an extraditable offence under USA-UK Treaty 1932 nor under the UNCAC 2003. “This means that Haqqani’s default of his own undertaking is not an enlisted extraditable offence under the said two legal instruments,” said Soofi.
However, criminal breach of trust under Section 409 PPC read with Section 9 of NAB Ordinance is also an offence in terms of Article 17 of UNCAC, he had added. Soofi had also submitted a draft law enabling FIA for extraditions.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan resumed the hearing of the case.
During the hearing, the Chief Justice observed that amicus curie in the case was of the view that NAB had the authority to make efforts for Haqqani's extradition to Pakistan. He also remarked that there were hurdles in extraditing accused persons due to lack of extradition treaties between Pakistan and other countries.
He further observed that we should focus on the NAB’s agreement with the United Nations Security Council about extradition of culprits.
While handing over the matter to NAB for extradition, the top court adjourned the hearing with directions for NAB to submit a written reply within a week regarding its progress in extradition.