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Who siphoned off Dr. Aafia Siddiqui US$ 2 million dollars legal representative fees?

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Dawood Ghazanavi |

On 23rd May 2018, Pakistan Consul General, Houston Miss Ayesha Farooqui made consular visit to Dr. Aafia Siddiqui in FMC Carswell, prison, Texas. A report was formulated after the meeting and became public under named “A detailed report of the meeting of “Consular Visit to FMC CARSWELL to meet Dr. Aafia Siddiqui on 23rd May 2018”.

On page 7 of the report, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui has made an allegation as “She accused a certain Asif Hussain, PA to former Ambassador Haqqani, of siphoning off the US$ 2 million allocated by the Government of Pakistan for her trial in 2010. She stated that this was the public money of the People of Pakistan but had been taken by Asif Hussain and possibly Ambassador Hussain Haqqani also who she described as unhelpful and not at all interested in helping her case”

Pakistan is going through its worst economic crises, and corruption has become its core problem. In an Islamic state, the protection of the asset of the state is the prime responsibility of the Government.

This is a clear allegation raised by the “daughter of the nation”, for whose protection of life, liberty and dignity via USA courts, this public money was allocated to the then Ambassador of Pakistan to Washington DC, USA Mr. Hussain Haqqani. Some authentic sources including the family of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui has claimed that Pakistan Ambassador to Washington DC, Mr. Hussain Haqqani engaged three private counsels in the USA to contest Dr. Aafia Siddiqui trial in New York Southern District Court in 2008. Mr. Hussain Haqqani requested Government of Pakistan to allocate 2 million dollars for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui court proceedings in USA courts.

The names of the private counsel were Mr. Charles swift, Ms. Linda Moreno and Ms. Elaine Sharp. All counsels were paid $50,000 retainers each. In the USA when a lawyer is hired in a criminal suite he/she is obliged to continue till the very last legal remedy. Why did the Pakistani government not pursue the appeal with these lawyers we don’t know? At the appellate stage, private counsels were hired again, but this time with help of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui family back home and funds raised by overseas Pakistani’s around the globe. Therefore as per record, Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC has only used $150,000 in Dr.Aafia Siddiqui court proceedings? Where is the rest of $1.8 million dollars?

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Where has the rest of the money been spent to help Dr. Aafia Siddiqui release? When Sherry Rehman took over charge as an ambassador of Pakistan to Washington DC in 2011, there was a hue and cry of missing US$ 1.5 million dollars from the Washington DC Pakistan Embassy. Whether there was any inquiry took place at the time is unknown? Pakistan embassy and consulate abroad is the custodian of public money and is required to protect & safeguard the same. Since the Consular visit report has been made public in May 2018, no such efforts have been made by Pakistan Foreign Office and Finance ministry to investigate where US$ 2 million dollars has been used? This clearly shows that public money has been wasted due to corruption.

A report was formulated after the meeting and became public under named “A detailed report of the meeting of “Consular Visit to FMC CARSWELL to meet Dr. Aafia Siddiqui on 23rd May 2018”.

The money has not been used in a very highly transparent manner. Pakistan Foreign Office and Embassies abroad are required to ensure transparency in their accounting and financial affairs because they are instrumentalities of the Government of Pakistan. It is strange neither “Daughter of the nation” has been released since last 15 years, nor the US$ 2 Million dollars of the public exchequer has been used for her release. Instead, this US$ 2 million dollars has been wasted under the garb of corruption.

The Auditor General of Pakistan performs constitutional and statutory duties, with the prime objective of reporting to the people of Pakistan, that revenues of the state, the principal component whereof comes from the pocket of the people of Pakistan, have been expended in accordance with the constitution and statutes.

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The fundamental premise to be kept in mind is that all funds in the state exchequer are funds that have come out of the pockets of the people of Pakistan. These funds are the product of the toil, sweat, tears and blood of the people. The government is at most a trustee and custodian of these funds and is accountable for the expenditure of these funds in a fiduciary capacity as envisioned in the constitution.

Since the Consular visit report has been made public in May 2018, no such efforts have been made by Pakistan Foreign Office and Finance ministry to investigate where US$ 2 million dollars has been used? This clearly shows that public money has been wasted due to corruption.

People of Pakistan demand complete Audit of Pakistan Embassy, Washington DC for the year 2009, 2010, 2011 due to alleged siphoning off of 2 million dollars from the Washington Embassy account? If there is any audit report done for the year 2010, 2011, and 2012 for Pakistan Foreign Office (including Pakistan Embassy, Washington) and Finance ministry specifying 2 million dollars spending receipts, then such report must be shared on the touchstone of the Article 19 & 19A of the constitution?

Read more: Dr. Fowzia voices out support for Aafia Siddiqui

Under Article 170(2) of the constitution, Auditor General has jurisdiction in relation to the accounts of the federation. It is only through the audit that it can be ensured that the hard-earned income of citizens of this country is being spent for lawful purposes. Without the audit specified by the constitution, there can be little or no room for any transparency.

Pakistan is going through its worst economic crises, and corruption has become its core problem. In an Islamic state, the protection of the asset of the state is the prime responsibility of the Government. Accountability of those who hold high office in government represents”the very foundation for the levy and legitimacy of taxes etc.”

Dawood Ghazanavi is a political analyst based in London. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space. 

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