ISLAMABAD: The man at the centre of the memogate controversy, Mansoor Ijaz, came under fire on Monday when Interior Minister Rehman Malik said it was time the US took action against the controversial figure.
The minister went on to say that Ijaz had not only violated the law but also passed ‘false statements’ against the armed forces and leadership of Pakistan.
Responding to allegations levelled by Ijaz about the government as well as former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani being in the know about the May 2 operation in Abbottabad, Malik said the US itself had admitted that neither were aware of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
“Pakistan has always been asked to do more but it is time for the US to take action against the person who is violating its law by misguiding the international community,” Malik emphasised, while talking to the media after a meeting held to review the law and order situation during Muharram.
It remains to be seen whether Malik’s statements will actually translate into action, although he did say that ‘all the information’ relating to the Pakistani-American businessman has been collected and that Interpol will be approached for further investigation.
Perhaps in an attempt to switch focus from Haqqani’s alleged involvement in the scandal to Ijaz, Malik also asked Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to approach the Supreme Court over Ijaz’s role, adding that the government will ‘extend its support’ in such a situation. At the same time, he downplayed recent executive-judiciary tensions by responding to a question saying that the government would honour and implement the SC’s decision on Haqqani.
However, he also referred to the SC’s orders to place Haqqani on the Exit Control List, saying that the former ambassador had no intention of leaving Pakistan and if he had wanted to leave, he would never have come back in the first place.
Bonn rhetoric continues
Regarding Pakistan’s noted absence from the Bonn Conference, which started on Monday, Malik said the government’s decision to not participate was ‘in accordance with the aspirations of the people’. Continuing the government’s recent swing towards anti-US rhetoric, he highlighted that as many as 36,000 people had been killed in the war against terrorism in Pakistan, while around $65 billion had been ‘wasted’ in the war. “We will not allow anyone to violate the sovereignty of the country at any cost. We feel proud of our nation, which knows how to defend the frontiers of the country”, he added.
‘Nawaz had to go to the SC’
Meanwhile, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah defended PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif’s decision to take the memogate issue to court, saying that the case was ‘serious’ enough to be taken to the SC.
Talking to the media after reviewing Muharram arrangements in Faisalabad, Sanaullah said
the PML-N did not knock at SC’s door to go after ‘a single man’, but, rather, it hoped for strict action against all those ‘responsible’ for the memo, especially under article six of the Constitution, which deals with high treason.
He also took a swipe at former federal law minister Babar Awan, saying on the one hand he claims to be a lawyer holding a doctor of law degree, while on the other, he is misguiding the people about the Supreme Court.
(WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHAMSUL ISLAM IN FAISALABAD)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 6th, 2011.