The court also clarified that the memo commission had only expressed its opinion and did not declare Haqqani a traitor. It also said Haqqani was neither an accused nor a trial was being conducted as the court would decide in this regard after hearing all the parties.
A nine-member bench, headed by Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, also sought replies from the petitioners on Haqqani’s objections over the memo commission’s report in five days.
During the hearing, the bench inquired from Asma Jahangir, the counsel for Haqqani, why her client was not appearing before the court despite his undertaking that he would do so on a four-day notice.
Asma replied that her client’s life was in ‘grave danger’ and he had never said that he would not appear before the court, but was facing security issues.
Justice Tariq Pervez advised her to approach the government and not the court to provide security.
She said the government was not providing security to Haqqani, as they contacted the attorney general and former interior minister several times on their phone and by sending messages on their emails, but they did not respond.
“Haqqani was being provided security when he was useful…we contacted the government regarding his security but no reply was given,” Asma said.
She also argued the commission report and the media had painted her client as if he was a traitor. Upon this, the court observed that this was just an opinion not a ruling.
During the hearing, Asma also read out her client’s letter before the bench, in which Haqqani 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.”
“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 that 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.
“Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, who also is currently leading the Adlia Bachao Tehrik’ (Save the Judiciary Campaign) and claims to speak for Pakistan’s establishment has publicly declared me a traitor,” Haqqani wrote. “Another politician close to the establishment and one who also served as a minister in the previous government headed by the then army chief General Pervez Musharraf, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, has gone on national television to call me “Ghaddar ibne Ghaddar” (Traitor and the son of traitor) without being rebuked by any judicial or judicious authority.”
Asma requested the court to review its order for summoning Haqqani in the given circumstances. She also said that if the SC declares her client guilty and he does not come in the country than he will not contest his case.
Granting Haqqani three days to file an application for exemption from appearing before the court, the court adjourned the hearing for indefinite period.
SC calms Haqqani’s nerves on ‘traitor label’