ISLAMABAD - Asma Jehangir, counsel for Former Pakistan Ambassador to US Hussain Haqqani, told the Supreme Court on Monday that her client could not appear before the court in person due to threats to his life.
A nine-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Nasirul Mulk, Justice Jawwad S Khwaja, Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Justice Tariq Pervez, Justice Aijaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, was hearing the case regarding an alleged memorandum from Hussain Haqqani to US Admiral Mike Mullen.
The court constituted a commission on December 1, 2011, to probe the allegation. According to its report, Hussain Haqqani was the originator and architect of the memorandum.
During the proceedings, the court inquired from Asma about Haqqani’s attendance. The former Supreme Court Bar Association president retorted, “Do whatever you want, I cannot personally go abroad to bring him back.” She said Hussain Haqqani had been facing insecurity phobia.
“It means at every cost you want to summon my client,” she said and added he neither came to Pakistan and nor was he in the country.
The chief justice said they had issued the order that the former Pakistan envoy must appear before the apex court regarding the matter. He said coercive measures could be used to bring the former ambassador back to Pakistan if he refused to come as per his commitment. Haqqani was allowed to leave the country with the commitment that whenever the court required, he would appear in person within four days.
During the last hearing, the court had directed Hussain Haqqani to appear in person before the court to clarify the findings recorded by the commission.
Asma Jehangir submitted a letter written to the Interior Ministry with regard to her client’s security. She told the court that Haqqani could not appear before the court for security reasons. She added the former ambassador to the US had been receiving threats via social media and asked the authorities concerned to investigate the matter. Citing threats to Haqqani, Asma said she could not remove this security threat phobia from the mind of Haqqani.
The chief justice said the SC registrar had held a meeting with Islamabad Inspector General of Police Binyamin on January 26 regarding his security. The IGP was supposed to inform the interior secretary of the steps being taken for providing security to Haqqani.
Asma said the Islamabad IGP or anyone from his office had not informed her of providing security to her client. The court asked the interior secretary to explain why he had failed to ensure Haqqani’s safe return to Pakistan. The court adjourned the hearing till February 12 due to Asma Jahangir’s foreign visit.
On November 12, Asma Jehangir had stated in the court how the Ministry of Interior could provide protection to Haqqani on his arrival when the Yousuf Raza Gilani government had kept him in the PM House. She had also said whether the court could give an assurance that ISI and MI would not arrest him on his arrival and during his stay in Pakistan. However, the chief justice had said, he would have to appear before the court according to his undertaking.
INP adds: The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the interior secretary and directed him to explain why Husain Haqqani and his counsel had not been informed of the security measures to be taken for the former ambassador. During the hearing, the chief justice said every Pakistani citizen was bound to follow the directives issued by the country’s courts.
Asma Jahangir said despite her having written two letters to the Interior Ministry, she had not been contacted by the latter regarding her request.
The chief justice remarked the bench wanted to know why Haqqani had failed to appear before it. Asma said her client was not a fugitive, adding Haqqani did not want to take the risk of returning to Pakistan.