Outstanding dues: Qureshi, Haqqani figure in lobbyist fee fiasco

Published: August 25, 2012

Foreign ministry avoids confronting the two over unauthorised payment to Washington-based firm. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is constantly avoiding approaching former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and former ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani to recover US $75,000 that were paid to an American lobbyist.

According to the Auditor General (AG) of Pakistan, the payment was made in June, 2008, in violation of prescribed rules and procedure, and should therefore be recovered from the ‘concerned quarters’. The AG argued that the amount was paid before any agreement had been signed between the Pakistani government and the lobbyist firm.

“Qureshi and Haqqani are the ‘concerned quarters’,” a senior foreign ministry official confirmed. Speaking to The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity, the official admitted that payment had been approved by then foreign minister based on recommendations made by then ambassador to the US.

Official ministry spokesperson Muzaam Ahmad Khan did not comment on the audit report despite repeated requests by The Express Tribune. A copy of the report had been submitted to his office.

According to the report, the ministry engaged the services of Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP through the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington for lobbying and communication services. The firm was hired for at a monthly retainer fee of $75,000 for an initial period of one year, supposed to be in effect from the date of the signing of the agreement.

Later in June, 2008, then ambassador Haqqani sent the ministry a letter stating that the service contract signed with the firm was effective from May 29 that year. In the same letter, he further informed the ministry that a partner in the Washington-based lobbying firm Locke Lord Strategies, Mark Siegel, had submitted invoice claims of $75,000 and $77,908.55 as retainer fees for the months of April, 2008 and May, 2008 respectively. Siegel maintained that following a meeting with the Pakistani prime minister in March that year, he was under the impression that the firm had been selected as the country’s lobbyist and as such it had started services immediately.

Haqqani told the ministry that he had discussed the matter with Siegel and concluded to work a mutually agreeable solution to avoid any irritation at start of this relationship. He recommended that the ministry pay a month’s retainer fee to the firm to compensate their time and effort spent. The ministry accepted Haqqani’s recommendation and allowed a $75,000 payment to Siegel.

The audit observed that the payment before agreement was unauthorised and needs to be recovered. The observation was conveyed to the ministry in November, 2009, with no progress in the months since.

In his objection report, the AG cited Para 19 (iv) of the General Financial Rules which states that “no payment will be made to the contractor by way of compensations, or otherwise, outside the strict terms of the contract or in excess of the contract rates.” According to media reports, Mark Siegel launched an intense campaign at Capitol Hill in 2011 to counter accusations that Islamabad was giving refuge to Osama bin Laden.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2012.

 

on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook

Reader Comments (10)

  • Peace Lover
    Aug 25, 2012 - 12:24PM

    Another issue with Haqqani?

    Recommend

  • Logic Europe
    Aug 25, 2012 - 1:02PM

    In western world 75000£ is a very small price for lobbying It seems it was a good deal but when people are about to discredit everything you have done in the interest of the country, there is little you can do

    Recommend

  • Tch tch
    Aug 25, 2012 - 1:23PM

    Old news. It was in the Memo commission report. SMQ has already publically given his version. The FM was completely sidelined and Haqqani was only answerable to the presidency.
    He has to account for couple of million dollars handed over to him no strings attached. ET is delibrately being misleading…PPP blog

    Recommend

  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Aug 25, 2012 - 1:59PM

    The average fee for lobby in Washington Dc is one thousand dollars per day. It goes up substantially if you are representing a pariah state. Unauthorized payments means some work was done under the disguise of Lobby. Sound like every thing is kosher.

    Recommend

  • A. Khan
    Aug 25, 2012 - 3:44PM

    Ah.. the Haqqani fellow is in the news again. Whats he done this time ?

    Recommend

  • Blithe
    Aug 25, 2012 - 4:16PM

    Qureshi should be kicked out of PTI ???

    Or do yoû automatically clean your Sins when you
    go to PTI???????

    Recommend

  • Wasiq
    Aug 25, 2012 - 7:57PM

    No allegation of wrongdoing against either Qureshi or Haqqani. Issue will most likely be resolved by signing another contract with the company to cover the month prior to the previous contract. Sad to see Express-Tribune going the way of The News by running ISI-planted stories.

    Recommend

  • RS
    Aug 25, 2012 - 8:37PM

    @Blithe

    “do yoû automatically clean your Sins when you go to PTI???????” LIKE YOUR COMMENT

    Recommend

  • Polpot
    Aug 26, 2012 - 4:21AM

    @It Is (still) Economy Stupid: “it goes up substantially if you are representing a pariah state.”"
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Wondering what could you be referring to?

    Recommend

  • Polpot
    Aug 26, 2012 - 4:26AM

    Islamabad, Washington must ‘divorce’ as allies: Haqqani”"
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Lets utilize the services paid for , towards the divorce!

    Recommend

More in Pakistan