Top legal experts are convinced that former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani will not return to Pakistan in the wake of the damning Memo commission report, which squarely pinned the blame on him for authoring the seditious memo.
According to experts, Haqqani is well aware of the limited options before the Supreme Court in the case.
“I know him personally; he will not come,” said senior advocate Raza Kazim, adding: “Global realities are in favour of Haqqani – therefore he is safe.”
When asked by The Express Tribune what options were available to the court in case Haqqani’s requests of exempting him from hearings are turned down and he refuses to appear, Kazim replied, “The court can serve him, at maximum, with a contempt of court notice or it can ask the government to bring him back.” Beyond that, he argued, the options are limited.
Kazim added that the fate of the new Contempt of Court Act is yet to be decided by the court, but in the meantime, the government would not force him to come back – even if it was ordered to do so by the apex court.
The memo commission, comprising of three chief justices of the Balochistan, Sindh and Islamabad high courts, had submitted its findings in June on the memorandum sent to the then Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen through Gen (retd) James Logan Jones, former US National Security Advisor. The memo sought US help against the Pakistan Army.
Meanwhile, advocate Salman Akram Raja said, “The commission’s report is not worth more than an investigation by a low-ranking police official,” adding, “According to legal procedure, the Supreme Court will ask the government to register a sedition case against Haqqani.”
Raja said Haqqani will be tried in the trial court if the government registers a case against him on the apex court’s orders.
He was also of the opinion that if Haqqani refused to come back, the most the Supreme Court could do was to serve him a contempt of court notice.
Advocate Babar Sattar said that though the commission has submitted the report, Haqqani has not yet been convicted – an important difference because it means he is not an absconder yet and can, therefore, not be extradited.
Sattar also made it clear that no extradition treaty exists between the US and the Pakistani government, which makes the case for extradition even weaker.
Another senior advocate, Khalid Anwar, said that since the former ambassador to the US has strong ties with the US establishment, Washington was highly unlikely to cooperate with Islamabad if it requested Haqqani’s custody.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2012.