ISLAMABAD - The central character of Memo scandal, Mansoor Ijaz, Wednesday recorded his explosive statement via video link from London before the judicial commission probing the matter, while the commission held the hearing in Islamabad. The commission head, Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Qazi Faez Esa, led the proceedings from the Islamabad High Court along with the other two members, Sindh High Court Chief Justice Musheer Alam and Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman. Besides repeating his claims that he has been in contact with the highest and the mightiest of country and that he was asked to write the mischievous memo, Ijaz also presented the stock of evidence in his possession to back his claims to Commission Secretary Raja Jawad Abbas, who was present at the London High Commission.
Ijaz handed over a 29-page testimony, his BlackBerry, PIN, phone numbers, emails, code words, documents and other ‘key’ information in connection with writing of the memo and its delivery to US Admiral Mike Mullen through Gen James Jones. After taking oath Ijaz started reading his written statement. Husain Haqqani’s lawyer, present in IHC building, objected that he (Ijaz) could not read a written statement. But Ijaz maintained that one year has passed to the occurrence of important events and he could not verbally state such events.
Mansoor Ijaz told the commission that he had met former president Pervez Musharraf, incumbent President Asif Ali Zardari, Husain Haqqani, incumbent ISI chief Lt-Gen Pasha and former ISI chief Gen Ehsan on different occasions in the past. “While I maintain high-level political and military/intelligence contacts in nearly two dozen countries around the world, during the past decade, I have had no contact with any Pakistani government official - civilian, judicial, military or intelligence - with the above said four exceptions (excluding Haqqani),” Mansoor said.
He told the commission that, he held a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari on May 5, 2009 which lasted for 45-50 minutes at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington DC at the invitation of former Ambassador Haqqani. He added that the meeting was aimed to brief the president shortly before he met US officials at the White House. He said that on October 22, 2011 he (Mansoor) met Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the current DG-ISI, at his (Pasha’s) request. This meeting lasted for approximately four hours in London, which was aimed to provide him (Pasha) with the same accounting of facts “I provide to the commission herein”.
While recording his testimony, Ijaz said Mr Haqqani had suggested the code name ‘Isfahani’ for the Americans Mr Haqqani’s wife’s name is Farahnaz Isfahani. He maintained that they used words ‘Friends’ for Pakistanis and ‘Friend’ or ‘Boss’ for President Asif Ali Zardari, while the words ‘Bad Boys’ used in their BBMs (BlackBerry messages) referred to Army Chief Ashfaq Pervez Kiayani and DG ISI Ahmed Shuja Pasha.
Zahid Bokhari, the counsel of Husain Haqqani objected over the video link hearing and called for cross-examination of Ijaz in London, which prompted the head of commission Justice Essa to intercept him. “Do not try to intervene in the recording procedure, and sit down,” Justice Qazi Essa said.
Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq said that the issue was about 81 BBMs (BlackBerry Messages) and the commission secretary in London was not a forensic expert. He also requested the commission to appoint a forensic expert to check Mansoor’s Blackberry handset before making record of proceedings. However, commission did not respond to him.
Zahid Bokhari said he had previously said that a witness outside the country could not be controlled. The memo tribunal asked Bokhari to raise his objection that would be addressed.
The commission asked Mansoor Ijaz to show his BBMs to secretary first and then to the commission. The BBM of Mansoor Ijaz was shown to the commission by zooming camera because Mr Haqqani’s lawyer objected as to how the BBM could be verified.
At one moment Haqqani’s lawyer said that Mansoor Ijaz was non-serious as he was playing with his BalckBerry phone during the proceedings of the commission. Mansoor Ijaz put his phone on the table after the commission directed him to behave. Mansoor Ijaz also objected to Zahid Bokhari’s attitude, saying he found Mr Haqqani’s lawyer’s behaviour perturbing.
Ijaz gave PIN code of BlackBerry and Email address of Husain Haqqani and said that the Email address could not be changed. Mansoor Ijaz provided bills of mobile phone service to commission secretary. The commission asked its secretary to send the email containing bills via fax without reading and all the numbers must be kept secret.
Ijaz said that contacts between Mr Haqqani and him started in May, 2011. He noted that Mr Haqqani sent him a message inviting him for coffee or dinner, saying he (Haqqani) had come to London for 26 hours.
According to Ijaz’s testimony, Haqqani told him that Pakistan Army was putting pressure on President Asif Ali Zardari and wanted to topple his government. Ijaz said he had noted that Mr Haqqani seemed panicked during his talk.
Mansoor Ijaz told the commission that Mr Haqqani had told him President of Pakistan wanted to establish a security team and Gen (r) Gehangir Karamat and Gen (r) Mehmood Durrani would be part of that team. Mr Haqqani also said that if US helped government to remove Gen Kayani, US could chose its own people to be included in Abbottabad commission that was to probe US raid killing Osama bin Laden.
Ijaz said Mr Haqqani told him that he was doing so on the directives of President Asif Ali Zardari. He said he did not know then US Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee chairman but Haqqani knew that he (Ijaz) had contacts with Gen James Jones. Ijaz said that Mr Haqqani wanted a message to be conveyed to the Americans.
He said that Haqqani also said that Pakistan would provide access to widows of Osama bin Laden and would also help India in investigating Mumbai terror attacks. Ijaz said Mr Haqqani had also sought US protection for Pakistan’s nuclear assets.
Detailing his meeting with Gen Pasha, Ijaz Mansoor told commission that he met the ISI DG in the evening of 22nd October 2011 in London at the Park Lane Intercontinental Hotel, Room 210, from approximately 1830hrs until 2230hrs. Ijaz told that ISI chief inquired about his qualification, family and relations with then Pakistan ambassador to US Husain Haqqani. Pasha had told him that he did not know his (Ijaz) background.
“I brought my electronic devices and a notepad to the meeting. We both agreed to take batteries out of our telephones while we spoke. The telephones were stored in a drawer near the table we sat at. Gen Pasha brought a notepad as well. After being seated face to face at a small dining table, Gen Pasha opened the meeting by stating his purpose in asking to meet me. He made clear he was not there to interrogate but rather to understand with evidence supporting my statements what exactly had happened in the days in question. He made clear he was in London with the consent of Army Chief Gen Kayani,” Mansoor stated. Ijaz told commission that Gen Pasha read the memorandum himself in about three or four minutes, demonstrated surprise and dismay - at times disgust and disappointment - over the content of the document. General Pasha did not ask a single question about the content of the document other than if I was willing to divulge the names of the others besides Haqqani that he had told me were to be part of the new national security team. I did so with the caveat that I did not believe either Karamat or Durrani knew anything about the plan to deliver the memorandum, the contents of the memorandum or the mindset of Mr Haqqani and those behind him in dreaming up the scheme,” he told commission.
“There were no other issues relevant to this subject matter discussed during the meeting. It ended on a cordial note with Gen Pasha thanking me for providing a clear record of events and asking if it was okay to follow up if other questions arose in the aftermath of his further investigation into the matter.” Mansoor said. The proceedings were adjourned until Thursday. It was first time in the history of Pakistan that a court recorded statement of an eye-witness through video link from abroad. As the judicial commission resumed hearing on Wednesday, two big screens were installed in the premises of court room of Islamabad High Court to record Ijaz’s statements from the Pakistan High Commission in London via video link. Commenting on statement of Mansoor Ijaz, analyst said that Ijaz made it clear on Wednesday that the only alleged link between Haqqani and the memo are handwritten notes made by Ijaz himself of a telephone call. None of the text messages and BBMs included in the affidavit directly refers to the memo. Most of the BBMs are timed and dated well after the delivery of the controversial memo to James Jones, according to the time on the email sent by Ijaz to Jones. An overwhelming majority of the BBMs are from Ijaz to Haqqani, which shows that he may have been creating a trail of BBMs to be used later to create circumstantial evidence. There is no BBM or email from Haqqani to Ijaz written before the writing and sending of the memo on May 9, 2011 that asks Ijaz to write and send the memo if indeed the memo was Mr Haqqani’s idea.
Although Mansoor Ijaz claims that Mr Haqqani asked him to call him by sending a BBM message when Haqqani arrived in London on May 9, most phone calls and BBM messages and all emails are from Mansoor Ijaz to Haqqani. According to the communications log provided in the witness statement, Haqqani only made two short phone calls of less than 2 minutes each to Ijaz, which support Haqqani’s version that he kept in touch with Mansoor Ijaz as a courtesy. From the flow of communications it seems Ijaz is the one who was eager to communicate with Haqqani. The alleged transcripts of text messages and BBM conversations establish communication between Haqqani and Ijaz but do not shed any light on the memo. Ijaz accepts in his statement that he drafted the memo albeit with “content originating from phone conversation with Haqqani”. Husain Haqqani has already denied telling Ijaz to write or deliver the memo or giving him the contents of the memo. Earlier, while criticising the late arrival of his visa, Bokhari told media before the start of the proceedings that in Wednesday’s hearing, he will ask the judicial commission to facilitate him as per his ‘legal right’. Bokhari said that the witness and the counsel should be face to face during a court’s proceedings because there are some ‘professional techniques’ that needed to be followed. “Your body language, your expressions and the way you put forth your arguments are different when you are not in front of the witness,” said Mr Haqqani’s lawyer. Bokhari alleged the commission has been facilitating Ijaz throughout the proceedings of the case. “I also request the court to provide me with appropriate facilities.” He said that his visa came at a time when he could not be present in the Pakistan High Commission during Ijaz’s testimony and had he tried, he would have also missed out the commission’s proceedings in Islamabad.
According to a private TV channel, Pakistan Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman reached London while Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar also visited Pakistani High Commission in London on Wednesday.