ISLAMABAD – The judicial commission probing the memogate scandal has asked the parties including the federation, Mansoor Ijaz and Husain Haqqani to compile their lists of witnesses and produce them before the commission within two days and directed the government to issue a multiple-visa to Mansoor Ijaz so he could appear before the commission on Jan 16.
But Haqqani’s defiant tone is sure to do little to quell the scandal that has dominated country’s politics for the past three months and destabilised the civilian government amid rumours of a military takeover.
A representative of ISI DG Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha told the panel that Pasha was willing to appear before commission in close-house or in-camera proceeding, but the commission did not grant that request.
The commission at the end of its proceedings issued order to the federal government to provide added security to Haqqani and constitute a joint security team for Mansoor Ijaz to provide him fool-proof protection when he arrives in Pakistan for appearing before the commission on Jan 16.
Nawaz Sharif (main petitioner in memogate scandal) was the first to appeared before the three-member commission in its second meeting and said that memogate was a conspiracy against the country’s security therefore all those behind this ‘heinous crime’ must be exposed. “Memogate was a conspiracy against the country’s sovereignty and independence. There is dire need of carrying out thorough investigations to expose the culprits behind this scandal,” Nawaz said, adding that he was utterly shocked by the behaviour of Parliamentary Committee on National Security, which has done nothing on this matter.
Nawaz was followed by Husain Haqqani, who appeared for the first time before the high-powered commission, reiterated his statement that he has not written the memo. “I have no role in creating, drafting and sending the memo to US chief of staff Admiral Mike Mullen. I only knew about the memogate through media. After that I tendered my resignation to the President of Pakistan to get me clear from the accusations levelled against me.“ Haqqani maintained that he had no knowledge of the origin of memo except that he subsequently knew about it through the press.
The former ambassador to US further said that he “was falsely accused in the media and (by) Mansoor Ijaz of being the person that communicated the contents of the memo.”
Colonel Khalid was the third person to appear before the judicial panel. He appeared on behalf of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Ahmed Shuja Pasha and informed the commission that Lt-Gen Pasha was willing to appear before the honourable commission in close-house or in-camera proceeding because his statement is likely to contain sensitive information.
But Commission Chairman Justice Qazi Faez Essa turned down the request by saying that any sensitive information should be provided in a sealed envelope. “We will see after receiving this envelope that which part of the information is sensitive and what should be made public,” Eisa said.
Following Monday’s proceedings which lasted for more than 10 hours, the commission ordered the federal government to issue a multiple-visa to Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz so that he could come to the country and appear before the panel to record his statement as the commission resume hearing on January 16.
“The commission order the federal government to issue unconditional multiple-visa to Mansoor Ijaz as soon as his application is received, while a joint team consisting of the officials of intelligence agencies and the police be constituted to ensure fool-proof security to him,” the order issued at the end of the meeting stated. It also directed authorities to increase security for Husain Haqqani.
Earlier, during the proceedings, Mansoor Ijaz’ counsel Akram Sheikh alleged that the government did not issue visa to his client who was willing to appear before the commission on January 16. He also pleaded before the commission to direct the authorities to ensure foolproof security to his client. Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq told the commission that security will be provided to Ijaz if he comes to Pakistan.
Akram Sheikh further said that Ijaz has agreed to appear before the judicial commission on the condition that the Blackberry conversation between Ijaz and Haqqani was made available to investigating authorities. Shaikh said that Ijaz had already issued a legal notice to the telephone company for making the conversation available. According to the company, Haqqani’s consent was also needed to provide access to the conversation, he said. When asked regarding his client’s consent, Haqqani’s lawyer Zahid Bukhari did not give a clear answer.
Bukhari refused to submit Haqqani’s BlackBerry data to the judicial commission saying that it was the responsibility of the government to provide the commission with the data.
The AGP told the commission that Pakistan’s High Commission in London and Embassy in the US has been directed to issue him (Mansoor Ijaz) visa following a standard procedure as he applies for it. An official of the foreign ministry told the commission that no application for the issuance of visa had been filed.
The attorney general also informed the commission that it has already written to the ‘Research in Motion’ company through its embassy in Canada to get hold of BBM data exchanged between Ijaz and Haqqani, however, the company was yet to give a reply.