ISLAMABAD: The relentless Asma Jehangir lay down the gauntlet on Thursday.
If the court wouldn’t abandon the memo case, it should be prepared to question not just the civilians, but also the khakis, warned Jehangir, counsel for the former ambassador to US Husain Haqqani.
Jehangir piled up a host of questions before the Supreme Court as she concluded her arguments against the maintainability of the petitions in the memogate scandal on Thursday. The entire affair smacks of foul play, Jehangir argued, as she attempted to convince the court to abandon the case in favour of a probe by an NA panel.
The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief left for London, without the prime minister’s permission, to meet Mansoor Ijaz, who had been writing against the ISI for the past three years with impunity, Jehangir argued.
If the court decided to hold a probe, it would also encompass the motive behind General Pasha’s visit to London to meet with Ijaz, Jehangir warned.
Jehangir insisted that the affair is a complicated political matter and should be left to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security for a decision. The judges did not appear entirely convinced.
“Do you want us to leave all these questions for the committee to decide?” said Justice Jawad S Khwaja. “I am also a parent and a citizen of this country and feel concerned,” the justice observed.
Jehangir said the judge was right in expressing anguish, but could not break free from the confines of the constitution’s dictates regulating his work.
She said Ijaz’s reply had been full of contradictions, and said that even General James Jones, who claimed to have delivered a memo to Admiral Mike Mullen, doubted the Pakistan government’s capacity in delivering on the terms set out in the memo.
Her query left the chief justice quizzical: “Why did General Jones deliver the memo to Admiral Mullen if he felt this way?” he observed
Jehangir then attempted to punch holes in Ijaz’s credibility. The court should not attach more credibility to the statement of Ijaz than that of her client, who made ‘hectic efforts for safeguarding the country’s interest’ as the ambassador to the US, she argued.
The Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who is protecting our borders, had confirmed the existence of the memo, the chief justice shot back.
Jehangir talked about General Kayani’s responsibilities, but added that history bore testimony to the fact that generals too made mistakes.
She added that the right forum for holding her client responsible for his alleged crime was the PCNS, or a probe under the Inquiries Commission Act of 1956.
Do you seek an inquiry for your client and later referral of that inquiry to an authority through the government, asked Justice Saqib Nisar.
Precisely, Jehangir answered, adding this is what she meant when she sought ‘due process’ for Haqqani.
The petitioners, meanwhile, insisted that the court forge ahead. The memo is an American conspiracy to pit the army against the government, argued petitioner Barrister Zafarullah.
He asked the court to dismiss Jehangir’s application against maintainability because the case is related to the infringement of the collective security of the country.
Another petitioner, Tariq Asad, said the court has the jurisdiction to entertain the case and order a probe into the matter.
Proceedings were adjourned for Friday (today) after counsel for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Nawaz Sharif said he would require time to convince the court that it has the jurisdiction to order a probe under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.
The court directed the petitioner to wrap up their arguments and rebuttal by Friday so it could take a decision on the maintainability of the petitions.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2011.