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Ministry blamed for delayed decision on Nizam fund

Ministry blamed for delayed decision on Nizam fund

KARACHI: Former high commissioner to Britain Wajid Shamsul Hasan accused the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday of going back on its decision and blamed “the red tape” in the ministry for the delay in a final verdict on the decades-long legal wrangling over the millions of pounds the Nizam of Hyderabad had transferred to Pakistan shortly before the Indian invasion.

In a communication to Dawn, he said the foreign ministry was responsible for the “delayed action” in the case because it had staged a somersault, first, by insisting that it was a bilateral case between Pakistan and India and asking him (Mr Hasan) to withdraw the case, second, by going back on it and now describing the British High Court’s June 22 decision as “a clear vindication of Pakistan’s principled stance”.

Mr Hasan claimed that it was he who had in 2013 sought a high court ruling on the rightful ownership of the money that had been lying with the NatWest Bank in the account of the Pakistan High Commission since 1948. Before the case was filed — much before the 2013 general elections — there were “truckloads” of correspondence between the High Commission and the foreign ministry on the issue, he added.

However, after Nawaz Sharif became prime minister, the ministry asked the High Commission to withdraw the case because it was a bilateral issue between Pakistan and India.

“Never before during all my five years as high commissioner did the foreign ministry inform me verbally or in writing that it was a bilateral issue, although truckloads of correspondence on the matter were exchanged between the High Commission and the ministry,” Mr Hasan said.

He said that it was only almost three years later — towards the end of last month — that he had received a notice from the ministry telling him that he had gone into litigation without its permission and asking him to withdraw the case.

Mr Hasan remained high commissioner for the next 10 months. Although he resigned on June 13, 2013, after the PML-N’s victory in the election, he was asked to continue till further orders. He relinquished the charge in April 2014. Subsequently, according to Mr Hasan, the foreign ministry went into appeal for restoration of Pakistan as a party to a case that it had itself ordered the High Commission to withdraw from after June 2013.

“In his infinite wisdom, the foreign ministry’s spokesman claimed it to be a historic victory, while in fact it was nothing but the status quo restored as of June 2013. Moreover, the ministry has accused me of damaging its case while the facts are to the contrary.

“Further, an impression has been given that the British court has ordered Pakistan to get £35 million that India opposed. Had the ministry not ordered the withdrawal of the case in 2013, a decision by now would have come regarding the £35m fund,” Mr Hasan said.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2016

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