Government Makes Efforts to Protect its Foreign Assets

In recent news, there have been some adverse developments in international court regarding the Broadsheet and Reko Diq cases. Consequently, the Foreign Office of Pakistan advised entities of the government to ensure that they keep only a meager amount of their holding in foreign accounts. 

The advice was made shortly after the Pakistan High Commission in the city of London, recommended the same to all state-owned entities. These include the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC), the Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDCL), Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) amongst others. 

Sources have also revealed that various stakeholders, such as the office of the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP), as well as the law ministry, have been asked to give their views on the recommendation made by the Pakistan High Commission. 

Reports have surfaced stating that efforts are being made to protect the foreign assets of the country after two PIA hotels were attached to the Reko Diq case. In addition, billions of rupees have been debited from the London accounts of the Pakistan High Commission in the Broadsheet case. 

The High Court of Justice from the British Virgin Islands (BVI), passed the order on the 10th of December, 2020. They attached two hotels, one in Paris and the other in New York, which belong to the Pakistan International Airlines Investment Limited (PIAIL). In light of the injunction, the PIA has been prohibited from selling either of these hotels. 

On the same note, a high court in the UK issued a transfer order for $28.7 million (Rs.4.5 billion) to the account of Broadsheet LLC, a foreign asset recovery firm. These funds will be transferred from the accounts of the Pakistan High Commission. The Foreign Office has stated that it is regretful about the inaction of the UK government when it came to debiting the amounts. 

An inter-ministerial meeting was held on the 6th of January at the Foreign Office. It was informed that despite communication attempts being made several times by the Pakistani government, the UK government failed to inform the bank that Pakistan High Commission accounts have diplomatic immunity. 

An official also spoke at the meeting regarding this issue. He stated that a massive breach of international law and diplomatic immunity had taken place. Interestingly, the UK government had informally told the government of Pakistan that it is their job to assert immunity in international court, during the case proceedings. 

On the 5th of January, the acting British high commissioner was summoned to the Foreign Office to act as a messenger for the concerns that the Pakistani government has regarding the violation of diplomatic immunity. Furthermore, a ‘Note Verbal’ was also sent to the acting high commissioner. 

Due to the debit of billions of rupees from the accounts of the Pakistan High Commission, some friction has surfaced between the Foreign Office and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The former has demanded that the latter should remit $0.235 million to the high commission, as soon as possible.