Memogate: ‘Proof insufficient for charges of treason’

Published: November 28, 2011

Mansoor Ijaz had claimed earlier that the memo was sent with the blessings of President Asif Ali Zardari. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: 

The Federal Investigation Agency cannot register an inquiry or case of high treason against former ambassador Hussain Haqqani over the Memogate scandal under the current circumstances, The Express Tribune has learnt.

According to the constitution, only the federal government or its nominee can be a complainant in a case filed under Article 6 [which deals with high treason], says Judicial Activism Panel’s Muhammad Azhar Siddique who recently filed a petition in the Lahore High Court against Ambassador-designate Sherry Rehman’s appointment. “Thus, the FIA has no authority or jurisdiction to investigate the matter until the federal government gives it the go-ahead.”

Legal expert Muhammad Azhar Chaudhry also points out that the available evidence “is not strong enough” to prosecute Haqqani or anyone else in the Memogate scandal. “The evidence currently provided in the scandal does not fulfil the criteria laid down under Article 15 of the Evidence Act of 1984 and is thus not permissible in court. [Pakistani-American businessman] Masoor Ijaz is not a representative of Pakistan neither is he authorised by the foreign ministry or the Pakistani embassy in the US.”

So far, says Chaudhry, the only evidence available is the BlackBerry Messenger conversation that discusses the memo but does not have actual portions of the alleged letter Ijaz sent to US Admiral Mike Mullen. Other than that, Ijaz has himself admitted that he is the initiator and originator of the draft and prepared the memo. “This is not legal evidence under US or Pakistani laws,” Chaudhry says, adding that there is insufficient evidence to suggest Haqqani’s involvement in the preparation or drafting of the alleged memo. “The BBM conversation does not prove that Haqqani wrote, prepared or dictated the contents of the memo. It appears the motive of publicising the messages was only to create a controversy against Haqqani.”

Onus on Ijaz

According to Chaudhry, if the memo’s authenticity is proven, Ijaz will be the first one to be prosecuted. “The burden lies squarely on Ijaz and no one else. He will be prosecuted under Article 6 for composing the memo.”

In that case, Ijaz will then have to provide admissible evidence that directly or indirectly links Haqqani to the memo, Chaudhry said.

He added that once such evidence appears and the government directs the FIA to probe into the matter, then the FIA’s special investigation unit (SIU) can launch an inquiry. “A case might then be registered in the SIU Islamabad police station under Article 6.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • RizwanTKhan
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:46AM

    Still insufficient? Would govt say the same had it been a common man like me? Also, please define sufficient proof for treason trial.

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  • Mirza
    Nov 28, 2011 - 11:36AM

    HH can only be prosecuted as a co-accused only after Mansoor I is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. HH did not sign, or write that memo.

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  • Hasan
    Nov 28, 2011 - 11:55AM

    “According to Chaudhry, if the memo’s authenticity is proven, Ijaz will be the first one to be prosecuted … under Article 6 for composing the memo.”

    How can Masoor Ijaz be tried for treason in a Pakistan court if he is an American citizen?

    Am I missing something!

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  • Pakistani
    Nov 28, 2011 - 12:28PM

    The issue is now with SCP. Let’s leave it to the judges to decide.

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  • ahmed
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:44PM

    This so called expert surely has a strange spin to it. A prosecutors job is to work on leads to gather more information and then to decide whether case can be filed. To start with, I’ll provide this easy route to ascertain more info.

    Since Haqqani has denied speaking to Z on those dates, get a record of Ijaz and HH’s phone records with their conscent from the phone companies. This is a piece of cake job to do – would not take more than a day as phone and cell companies in US and UK can easily provide older phone bills. with client’s permition. If one of them doesn’t agree, then we know who could be guilty one. Second is getting BBM records from RIM. This could be a bit lengthy process etc but can also be done.

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  • Shahid Kureshi
    Nov 29, 2011 - 12:46AM

    To construe this episode to be a tussle between the Army and civillian government would not be proper and in nobody’s interest. The stakes are much higher and therefore we saw the DG ISI himself visiting UK for evidence instead of entrusting it to a subordinate.

    It would be a case of mis-placed judicial restraint if those who call themselves the ultimate custodians of law and the Constitution of Pakistan, find excuses to not to get to the bottom of this sordid attempt either on formal governmental request or under their own steam, if none is forthcoming. The lack of any such effort by the Judiciary would add to justification if the Army eventually acts on its own; after all the Constitution of Pakistan would only be relevant as long as there is a Pakistan.

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  • Humaira
    Dec 8, 2011 - 8:13PM

    In 1996 or 1997 Mansur Ijaz wrote an Op Ed in the WSJ against Benazir Bhutto Shaheed. Her government fell two months later. At that time I felt M Ijaz was a bit of a creep and a great self-promoter. His latest gig only reinforced my dislike for him. He should concentrate on making money and stop meddling in the affairs of states. Hussain Haqqani is neither a traitor nor has committed treason, and he strongly defied that he has drafted any such memo. On the other hand, no one knows who is Mansoor Ijaz? What are his motives? What is his credibility? He is the man of Islamabad or Washington? I am sorry but I must say that we are damn fool that we believe in a person who is American and do not ready to hear what our own ambassador saying. Pakistanis are no so naïve now they knew who is behind all this drama.

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