ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to take measures for developing necessary rules and framework for bringing former ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani back home.
The directives were issued by a three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar when senior counsel Ahmer Bilal Soofi, representing the FIA, told the court that without a proper mutual legal assistance (MLA), all efforts to bring Mr Haqqani back to Pakistan would not be fruitful. And in the absence of such regulations, the FIA did not have the enabling powers to extradite him from the US, he said.
On a suo motu, the apex court had taken up a case pertaining to steps being taken by the government for ensuring implementation of its earlier order of bringing Mr Haqqani to Pakistan.
Sets up commission to probe embezzlement of ERRA funds
Mr Haqqani was at the centre of a controversy for sending a memorandum allegedly to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen, seeking direct American intervention to avert a possible overthrow of the civilian government by the military against the backdrop of US raid at a compound in Abbottabad to kill Osama Bin Laden on May 2, 2011.
Know more: Memogate and the aftermath
Later, the Supreme Court constituted a judicial commission which had on June 12, 2012, held that Mr Haqqani was the originator and architect of the memo.
On Tuesday, the chief justice regretted that a person had submitted himself before the apex court earlier and was allowed to leave Pakistan after an undertaking that he would return whenever called after a prior notice. Now when the man was being asked to come he was not obeying.
But Advocate Soofi told the court that without MLA no evidence against Mr Haqqani could be collected by the FIA.
The chief justice, however, wondered why the agency failed to make the rules when the case had been heard for the last few months.
During the hearing, the counsel offered his assistance in framing rules without any charge for providing designated authority to the investigation agency.
Embezzlement of ERRA funds
Meanwhile, the same bench set up a commission headed by the district and sessions judge, Mansehra, to develop terms of reference (ToR) to conduct a thorough probe into misappropriation of funds and lack of development in Balakot and adjoining areas in the wake of the 2005 earthquake.
The commission will furnish ToR within a week and after the approval of which it will then embark upon a through inquiry. The time period to complete the probe will be decided by the court at the next hearing.
On a suo motu, the apex court had taken up an application of Shahzad Mehmood Qureshi of Mansehra who had invited its attention to alleged embezzlement of funds in the accounts of the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (Erra).
In his application, Mr Mehmood had alleged that despite the passage of 13 years, the people of Balakot were still living in makeshift arrangements without water, while their children were studying in schools without any roof and not a single doctor was available for them.
The applicant also alleged that Rs55 billion was transferred to the Benazir Income Support Programme out of Erra funds, while Rs185bn was transferred to other government accounts.
At the insistence of the applicant, the chief justice had even paid a visit to Balakot on April 25 to get first-hand information about how the area people were living.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday came out with an option for 222 firms involved in the written-off non-performing loans worth billions of rupees from the commercial banks either to deposit three-fourth (75 per cent) of the principal amount they had borrowed or face trials before the banking tribunals.
The firms will have to come up with their response to the court’s suggestion on Wednesday.
“Every penny will be recovered,” observed the chief justice, adding that the recovered money could be used to repay the international debt for which every citizen owed about Rs170,000.
The court had taken a suo motu notice in 2008 on press reports that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) quietly allowed commercial banks to write off non-performing loans (NPLs) under a scheme introduced by former president Pervez Musharraf.
Soon after October 2002 elections, then finance minister Shaukat Aziz and his team at the SBP approved a loan write-off scheme.
Instead of launching an effective campaign for the recovery of the NPLs, the SBP issued an incentive scheme to the banks/development finance institutions for waiving the loan of the organisations showing “loss” for three years.
Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2018