Memogate: ‘Mansoor Ijaz to appear before commission on Jan 24’

Published: January 16, 2012

Ijaz's lawyer read out written statements during proceedings of Memogate scandal in Islamabad High Court.

ISLAMABAD: Key witness of the Memogate scandal, Mansoor Ijaz is to appear before the judicial commission tasked with probing the controversy on January 24.

Assurances in this regard were provided by Ijaz’s counsel, Akram Sheikh, during the probe’s third sitting on Monday at the Islamabad High Court building.  The commission comprises chief justices from the Balochistan, Sindh and Islamabad High Courts.

However, Sheikh added that his client and his family have reservations over their security while in Pakistan and believe they may not be allowed to return home. He sought an adjournment of the hearing until the Pakistani-American businessman appears before the commission to provide his testimony. Haqqani’s counsel opposed the adjournment, however, and requested that Ijaz should not be allowed to return until the commission concludes its proceedings. Justice Qazi Faez Isa asked him to file the application before the Supreme Court.

When asked by Justice Isa, “When will [Ijaz] come, we are running short of time,” Sheikh replied that his client has applied for a visa in Pakistan’s consulate in Bern, Switzerland.  He added that Ijaz would ‘hopefully’ be granted a visa within two days, however, his schedule could not be disclosed.

Quoting Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s recent press conference, Sheikh contended the government was planning to book his client on the charge of high treason upon arrival. He pointed specifically to an application filed by a Pakistan Peoples Party activist in a district court for the registration of an FIR against Ijaz. Attorney General Pakistan (AGP) Maulvi Anwarul Haq, however, denied the allegation.

BlackBerry data

As far as the response of BlackBerry company Research in Motion (RIM) is concerned, the AGP informed the commission that the company has refused to provide access to data on Hussain Haqqani’s cell phones, on the grounds that policy dictates that only requests made by the users themselves can be entertained.

Jusice Isa asked of the former ambassador to the US’s counsel, Zahid Bukhari, why his client had not surrendered his privacy right after Ijaz had done the same. Bukhari contended that surrendering privacy rights was not mandatory.

Bukhari also told the commission that Haqqani sent an application to the AGP for the recovery of his BlackBerrys from Washington, upon which the AGP informed the commission that the phones had not been found.  He added, however, that necessary email addresses and phone numbers could be provided to the commission.

‘Ijaz getting undue priority’

Haqqani’s counsel also objected to Ijaz’s absence before the commission, saying he was a foreign national who was being given undue priority over his client. He requested the commission to first collect all evidence against his client, after which he could respond to all allegations. Bukhari added, indignantly, that the commission accepted all of Ijaz’s terms but had yet not appeared before the commission. The memo was a conspiracy against the incumbent democratic government, the counsel said angrily, adding that there was no evidence of the memo and the issue had only become prominent on the basis of news articles.

Tensions increased during the meeting as Sheikh said Ijaz was being sent threatening emails from Haqqani’s email address, although he was careful to avoid saying Haqqani himself was threatening his client.

What lies ahead for the commission

The commission was informed that Advocate Tariq Asad, one of the petitioners, has submitted a list of his witnesses including the names of Brigadier (Retd) Imtiaz and Lt Gen (Retd) Javed Ashraf Qazi. It also took up the application of PPP activist Khalid Javed, who requested that an FIR be registered against Ijaz.

Advocate Raja Israr Abbasi, counsel of petitioner, requested the commission to pass an order for the registration of an FIR on the grounds of Ijaz ‘violating the Constitution’. He added that the January 9 order of the commission had deprived the petitioner of his legal right.

After Abbasi was unable to prove which newspaper Ijaz had written articles in against the army and state institutions, Justice Isa admonished him and asked whether the petitioner had been requested by a political party to file this application or in his own personal capacity. The judge added sternly ‘PPP is mature enough to make better decisions itself,’ and that the petitioner was using the PPP’s name for ‘mere publicity’.

Parliamentary committee steps in

After adjourning the hearing till January 24, the commission also ordered Ijaz, Haqqani and Inter-Services Intelligence director general Shuja Pasha to file their statements by January 23. The Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) has also asked all three to file statements on the same day before the committee.

The PCNS meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Raza Rabbani, who summoned Ijaz to appear before the committee on January 26. Rabbani said that a notice would be sent to Ijaz through the Pakistani Embassy.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2012.

Reader Comments (21)

  • Tariq
    Jan 16, 2012 - 10:29AM

    What a surprise

    Recommend

  • Hasan Mehmood
    Jan 16, 2012 - 10:32AM

    This is a high stakes game. No surprises. Looks like he has been told to defer his arrival. In the meanwhile frantic (behind the scenes) negotiations must be going on between the security establishment and Govt. for a quid pro deal i.e dropping the MEMO GATE in return for early elections / PM resignation and or other conditions. Since the commission cannot proceed without MI (who will indicate inability to come in view of security concerns), the matter will die a natural death without any party loosing face. HH will of course remain out.

    Recommend

  • Anthony Permal
    Jan 16, 2012 - 10:55AM

    This is becoming a joke. Only, no one’s laughing because we’re waiting for the punchline.

    Recommend

  • Mirza
    Jan 16, 2012 - 11:57AM

    The news says ” legal experts in the country expressed that Ijaz can be charged with ‘high-treason’ on his return to Pakistan, despite his American nationality.”
    Of course they should charge him for high treason. Mansoor has admitted writing the memo and delivering it. It is like he kills somebody and then tells HH told me to do that. Which court in the world would make him the star witness and hang HH and not charge him at all?

    Recommend

  • Harry Stone
    Jan 16, 2012 - 12:30PM

    PAK has a different definition of what treason is than the rest of the world.

    This is just more proof that PAK is a lawless nation. He would be a fool to go to PAK. Let then eat each other…. something PAK seems to be good at until it comes to attacking India at which they are not very good at winning.

    Recommend

  • shuja
    Jan 16, 2012 - 1:05PM

    If our national highups are reluctant to appear before courts Mansoor should be given full time to ensure his safety.This will help the judiciary to judge his position regarding this case.

    Recommend

  • Basit
    Jan 16, 2012 - 1:25PM

    @Mirza:
    Ijaz can be tried for treason against who? He is not a Pakistani national. Haqqani, on the other hand is a Pakistani national and can be tried for treason.

    Recommend

  • Circus Circus
    Jan 16, 2012 - 1:48PM

    Ijaz will never visit pakistan. unless he is mad. What a country! Totally the theatre of the absurd. anyone thinking of 180 million poor pakistanis?
    Courts are now inquisition bodies of the middle ages. Pakistan is now rapidly descending into anarchy. just a matter of time..

    Recommend

  • Ghaznavi
    Jan 16, 2012 - 2:24PM

    Memo gate will not be closed. It needs to be logically concluded with the master minds brought to justice.

    Recommend

  • Ahad
    Jan 16, 2012 - 3:13PM

    Someone should announce bounty on his head

    Recommend

  • dv sikka
    Jan 16, 2012 - 3:57PM

    He is playing a dirty game to cause damage to Pakistan. Obviously he is a crook who does not want the truth to come out.

    Recommend

  • Hasan Mehmood
    Jan 16, 2012 - 5:26PM

    @Harry Stone:
    There is no need to fly off the handle or shoot whatever irrelevant thought comes to your mind. Please be reasonable and cogent like most of the commentators for or against MI.
    By the way whats the harm if an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis just want to confirm whether the contents of MEMO reflect the mindset of HH / Zardari etc and their indirect blessing. If not we can all sleep in peace. Nothing else matters.

    Editor ET: Ain’t you supposed to act as a moderator?

    Recommend

  • Eric Kumar
    Jan 16, 2012 - 8:42PM

    I bet you $100 that Ijaz is not stupid to come to Pakistan and left behind bars. I am even concern about Haqqani if he will be ever go back U.S. and join his family. In present day situation in the socalled land of pure if there is any thing called justice.

    Recommend

  • Tariq
    Jan 16, 2012 - 9:52PM

    Only in Pakistan can a person violate an order, if this guy was in the US and failed to show up for a commission hearing he would be Federal Prison. But maybe thats where he will end up anyway

    Recommend

  • Jan 16, 2012 - 10:35PM

    this is a stupid game in order to demage the institution of country.and there must be end of this game,and 2 punish .who are behind it

    Recommend

  • Jan 16, 2012 - 11:43PM

    He is not coming anyway

    Recommend

  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Jan 17, 2012 - 12:11AM

    Mansoor Ejaz as he is wasting the valuable time of the court.

    If a witness does not appear on a particular date of hearing, the court is empowered to give ex-party judgment.

    I still doubt that Mansoor Ejaz will come to Pakistan on January 25, 2012 but it is likely that he may arrive along with General Musharraf.

    Recommend

  • Tariq
    Jan 17, 2012 - 7:39AM

    @Hasan Mehmood:
    Hey I was being facetious. My good friend you need to learn english.

    Recommend

  • Harry Stone
    Jan 17, 2012 - 9:45AM

    @Tariq:

    You do not know very much about how the law works in the America. Right from the start a person who is not a citizen cannot commit treason. This seems not to be the case in PAK. It can be assumed that PAK can charage anyone anywhere with this charage.

    This is why the world laughs at PAK and believes it to be a lawless nation.Recommend

  • Hasan Mehmood
    Jan 17, 2012 - 10:20AM

    @Tariq:
    I did not reply to your comment (above my comment). The words in my comment {no surprises} were not meant to be a responce to your words {what a surprise}. Its a purely coincidental / unintentional similarity. Hope I have made myself clear with my limited command of English language.

    Recommend

  • Feroz Shah
    Jan 18, 2012 - 10:08PM

    The balloon floated through Memogate has now been pinpricked by its very own author, Mansoor Ijaz. The whole edifice built around the controversial memo is unravelling under the weight of Mr Ijaz’s own contradictions. General James Jones, the intermediary between Ijaz and Admiral Mike Mullen, has declared the memo as unreliable. General Jones said, “At no time during the call do I remember Mr Ijaz mentioning Ambassador Haqqani, and he gave me no reason to believe that he was acting at the direction of Ambassador Haqqani, with his participation, or that Ambassador Haqqani had knowledge of the call or the contents of the message.” Mr Ijaz is not known for his credibility in the first place and with General James’ claim that he thought Ijaz himself wrote the memo, it further makes it clear how one man tried to manipulate many parties and tried to disrupt the system in Pakistan. He is using dillydallying tactics to appear before court. Everything is clear there is nothing left behind the smoke screen.

    Recommend

More in Pakistan