ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday issued warrant for the arrest of former ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani in the Memogate case.
A three-member SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, issued the orders while taking up the Memogate case.
Additional Attorney General Waqar Rana submitted a report suggesting ways for bringing Haqqani back to Pakistan. He said that American authorities also had been contacted in this regard.
Memogate case: SC summons officials for Husain Haqqani's return
Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General Bashir Memon said, “A request has also been sent to Interpol regarding issuance of a red warrant.”
Haqqani was implicated in the Memogate case when he allegedly had a memo delivered to Admiral Mike Mullen through Mansoor Ijaz. The memo had offered greater government cooperation in return for US backing against the powerful military in the immediate aftermath of the May 2 raid which led to the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. Earlier, Haqqani had dismissed reports of the infamous Memogate case being reopened as a ‘political gimmick’ on part of the apex court.
The same bench also ordered the arrest of former Evacuee Property Trust Board chairman Asif Hashmi, who is involved in corruption of billions of rupees and has fled the country. The bench asked FIA to arrest him.
Meanwhile, the three-judge bench also formed a committee consisting of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) governor, Federal Board of Revenue chairman and finance secretary for suggesting guidelines to bring money back from foreign accounts in view of the suo motu order.
CJP remarks on Memogate a 'political gimmick': Hussain Haqqani
The bench gave one week to the committee for completing all the work. The committee has been granted authority for obtaining services of any government department official if required and can approach any department as well.
SBP Governor Tariq Bajwa told the bench that Pakistan has signed a treaty with the Swiss government for sharing information of Pakistani citizens who opened bank accounts there. The Swiss authorities will share information in this regard in December 2018.
Likewise, the government of United Arab Emirates has also started providing information about Pakistanis who have properties abroad.
The CJP said that they do not want to create panic as the departments can use multiple ways for bringing looted money back to Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the bench was told that out of 444 people whose names were revealed in the Panamagate papers, 78 people have yet to be traced out. The FBR has issued notices to 293 individuals.
The FBR chairman informed that Rs6.6 billion has been recovered from two people. They have also decided to issue notice to 10 individuals who did not show the exact worth of their properties situated abroad. The court also asked the FBR whether they asked the people how they bought properties abroad in the first place.
Earlier, the bench while passing an initial order had noted that the economy of the country was being bled by illegal and surreptitious theft of national wealth stashed in foreign countries.
The suo motu order said that the same money could otherwise be utilised for the welfare of the people in projects such as education, health and public welfare.
Such delinquency constituted violation of fundamental rights of citizens of Pakistan and was a matter of great public importance, it stated.
“Prima facie, it appears that such money is siphoned off without the payment of taxes through illegal channels and represents either ill-gotten gains or kickbacks from public contracts. Such money creates gross disproportion, inequality and disparity in the society, which warps economic activity and growth, and constitutes plunder and theft of national wealth,” stated the suo motu order.
The court also noted that recently, the names of a large number of Pakistani citizens were disclosed in the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers. The FBR chairman had appeared before the court and made a statement that appropriate action was being initiated against the citizens whose names had appeared in the papers. However, no appreciable progress appears to have been made in this regard.
The SBP, FBR, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and the Ministry of Finance were also asked to submit report about steps taken, in collaboration with other state institutions, for retrieval of the said money.
The FBR was directed to submit a report providing details of the steps taken on the basis of information available, inter alia, through Panama Papers and Paradise Papers and the action taken against citizens holding properties and banks accounts in foreign countries, said the order.