Memogate scandal: Govt given one month to bring back Husain Haqqani

CJP Justice Mian Saqib Nisar says on-air discussions over case should be banned

Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui

ISLAMABAD: The government has been given one month's notice by the Supreme Court to bring back to Pakistan the country's former ambassador to the United States, Hussain Haqqani, who is the accused in the Memogate scandal. 

While hearing the case on Wednesday, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar remarked they would not tolerate further delay in Haqqani’s return. He said no positive development has taken place regarding Haqqani’s return.

To this, the interior secretary told the court that documents from the United States had arrived a day earlier, while the additional attorney general requested the court to grant a chance on the case.

The chief justice also questioned the director general of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Haqqani’s return, to which the latter said they would contact Interpol for the Red Warrant once a permanent one is issued.

DG FIA said he would personally go to the United States for the case.

Moreover, the chief justice observed, media should not entertain any commentary on the Memogate scandal as it is a sub judice case.

He remarked that discussions regarding the scandal on television channels alleged that the courts intended to open old wounds by conducting hearings on the Memogate scandal. But actually, the courts are only following the law, the chief justice added.

The chief justice remarked he was reckoning on banning on-air discussions over the Memogate scandal and summon all those in the court who want to give statements regarding the case.

The Memogate scandal erupted in 2011 when Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz claimed to have received an 'anti-army' memo from Haqqani, the then-Pakistan envoy in Washington DC, for US joint chiefs chairman Admiral Mike Mullen.

The memo controversy

The memo sent by Haqqani in 2011 allegedly mentioned a possible army coup in Pakistan following the US raid in Abbottabad to kill Osama bin Laden.

It sought assistance from the US for the then-Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government for 'reigning in the military and intelligence agencies'.

A judicial commission tasked to probe the case had concluded that the memo was authentic and authored by the former envoy.

The commission said the purpose of the memo was to convince American officials that Pakistan's civilian government was 'pro-US'.

The scandal, taken to the Supreme Court by then opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and several others, had led to Haqqani's resignation and subsequent exit from the country as the hearing was under way.

In September last year, Haqqani told Geo News "Memogate was just media noise, which is why the case has never been decided by the Supreme Court. That it disrupted lives without a conclusion is a sad reflection on how things work in Pakistan. I have moved on".

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, in March 2017, called for a parliamentary commission to investigate Haqqani's claims in a Washington Post op-ed that his 'close ties' with the US enabled the bin Laden raid.

Asif also stated that the former envoy had left Pakistan on the promise that he would return, but never did.

Following the article's publication and subsequent media uproar, the PPP also accused Haqqani of "treason and maligning the country’s armed forces at the behest of anti-Pakistan elements”.

Most recently, on January 21, media reports stated that three FIRs were registered against Haqqani in two police stations of Kohat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for delivering hate speeches and writing against the armed forces and sovereignty of Pakistan.