Security for Hussain Haqqani: Interior secretary summoned to appear before SC today
ISLAMABAD, Nov 12: The Supreme Court summoned on Monday Interior Secretary Khwaja Siddiq Akbar to appear before it on Tuesday and address security concerns expressed by former ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani for his return to Pakistan.
A nine-judge larger bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry had resumed hearing into the controversy revolving around the memo scandal after the judicial commission constituted by the Supreme Court had held that Mr Haqqani was the originator and architect of the memorandum sent to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen seeking US intervention to avert a possible overthrow of the civilian government by the military.
After Mr Haqqani was directed by the court on June 29 to appear in person, he had written a letter on July 11 to the chief justice stating that he would only come to Pakistan after threats to his life were seriously dealt with.
On Monday, the court directed the government to ensure security of Mr Haqqani upon his arrival, stay and departure from Pakistan.
At the outset Advocate Asma Jahangir, representing Mr Haqqani, argued that neither the review petition moved by his client nor his plea for exemption from appearance before the court in the case was heard by the court.
But the chief justice observed that the court will decide about the appearance of Mr Haqqani first, saying the former ambassador was not granted exemption from appearance though allowed to fly abroad after assurance that he would be available on a four-day notice. “We respected your words as you are a senior lawyer, but Mr Haqqani did not appear and now has filed a petition for exemption from court appearance,” the chief justice observed while pointing towards the counsel.
But Ms Asma argued that Mr Haqqani appeared before the judicial commission for recording his statement through video conference in London, but he was not facilitated by the commission. Therefore, the scenario had totally changed about his availability on a four-day notice.
The counsel argued that free movement was a right but Mr Haqqani’s fundamental rights were infringed when condition of permission for going abroad was imposed on him by the court.
She argued that some politicians had declared Mr Haqqani “ghadar ibn ghadar (traitor)”, adding that he would face serious threats if he returned to Pakistan in such a situation.
The counsel contended that she had filed replies several times on reasons regarding non-appearance, but they were never entertained after the court office raised objections.
Then the court asked Attorney General Irfan Qadir to ensure security of Mr Haqqani upon his arrival and stay as well as his secure departure abroad.
But the AG replied that personally he could not give any commitment for Mr Haqqani’s security but would consult the government authorities concerned.
Then the court summoned the interior secretary, but Additional Secretary Saud Mirza appeared because the secretary was not available.
He too expressed his inability to give any assurance without consulting the interior secretary.
The interior secretary will personally appear on Tuesday to give assurance about Mr Haqqani’s security.