LAHORE: It is not a question of if but when Mansoor Ijaz will come to Pakistan.
The central character in the Memogate scandal is likely to not appear before the judicial commission probing the matter on January 16, recent developments suggest.
Akram Sheikh, counsel for the Pakistani-origin American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, at the last hearing on January 9 had said that his client will appear before the panel on January 16. That appears unlikely given that he has yet to submit a visa request.
“We have not received a visa application by Mansoor Ijaz, either at the High Commission in London or any other consulate,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Abdul Basit said on Thursday.
Friday (today) is the last working day at the foreign missions before commission’s hearing in Islamabad on Monday.
Ijaz will not be in Pakistan on January 16, and has not given an exact date for his visit, confirmed senior journalist and editor-in-chief of The Friday Times Najam Sethi, while talking to The Express Tribuneon Thursday. Sethi, who spoke to Ijaz, did confirm that he will visit at some point. Ijaz said he will deposit his passport at a Pakistani embassy on Friday but refused to divulge further, Sethi added.
Ijaz, in a press release from Zurich, said reports that he “may not be coming to Pakistan to offer [his] testimony before the Judicial Commission, are simply wrong.”
“Some important security-related concerns have arisen as the date of my testimony nears. Certain adjustments are being made that are not for public dissemination,” the press release said.
He also denied reports that the American government pressurised him “not to testify.”
“I have received broad-based and bipartisan support from my fellow Americans for my willingness to speak truth … and to put my factual recounting of events related to the memorandum in question on the record before the Commission,” Ijaz said in a press release. He added that the security issues “are material and will be managed.”
“I look forward to enjoying the local food, seeing some old friends and putting the truth on the record once and for all so this episode in Pakistan’s history can be put behind us,” he added.
Sources, however, said Ijaz’s no-show on January 16 is because he has not received a go-ahead from ‘quarters’ pushing for investigating the issue. He is not likely to appear before the commission any time soon, but will simultaneously insist he is coming, to keep the pressure on the government, sources added.
Meanwhile, former ambassador to US Husain Haqqani, in an affidavit, defied allegations levelled by Ijaz’s counsel that his client received death threats from Haqqani through email.
Haqqani, in the affidavit, has said that he did not send any threats to Ijaz. Haqqani’s counsel, Zahid Bokhari, has prepared an application to submit to the secretary of the judicial commission.
Earlier, Sheikh alleged before the commission that Ijaz had received death threats via email.
The original power of attorney appointing Sheikh as Ijaz’s lawyer has not been received by any consulate in the UK or Switzerland either, sources in the foreign office said.
The point was highlighted by Bokhari who objected before the commission: “The counsel is representing Mansoor Ijaz without signing a power of attorney and affidavits with Ijaz, which is equivalent to forgery.”
“What if tomorrow Mansoor Ijaz refuses to accept everything the learned counsel is stating here,” Bokhari had said, adding that he will submit waivers and other documents after Ijaz gives his testimony and evidence to the commission. Sheikh said he has signed a power of attorney with his client and submitted it to the commission. However, since it is an electronic copy, he said he would have to submit a notarised copy to the commission later.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2012.