The Memo Commission on Friday ordered Hussain Haqqani, the former Pakistan ambassador to the US, to appear before it on April 12 to record his testimony.
It directed the foreign affairs and interior ministries to ensure Haqqani’s presence on the date specified.
Haqqani’s counsel Zahid Bukhari had earlier requested the commission to record his statement at Pakistan’s High Commission in London citing security concerns.
A three-member commission on Friday issued a notice to Haqqani once again asking him to appear before the commission along with the Blackberry handset through which he communicated with the scandal’s central character Mansoor Ijaz.
Bukhari, however, reiterated that his client had no qualms about appearing before the commission, but could not do so because of security threats.
The commission, headed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, directed Haqqani to write a letter to Blackberry manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM) within 24 hours for a waiver of security. That would mean Haqqani forsaking the privacy clauses which prevent RIM from disclosing its users’ information.
Bukhari informed the court that RIM did not keep records older than 90 days. However, Justice Mushir Alam said the commission had made it clear that Haqqani had to write the letter regardless.
Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq, who had earlier asked the Supreme Court to let Haqqani leave the country, saying that he would ensure the latter’s presence whenever needed, said: “We (government) are ready to implement the orders of the commission.”
Justice Isa, however, remained unimpressed. “What message are we sending to the world when a former ambassador refuses to come home to record his statement? Is this the credibility of the government that it cannot make former diplomats appear before the commission?”
On Justice Isa’s request to assist the commission, Advocate S M Zafar suggested that Haqqani should be summoned through the interior ministry before any action is taken against him.
Contrary to Zafar’s advice, attorneys Mustafa Ramday, Akram Sheikh and Salahuddin Mengal suggested that the commission take stringent action against Haqqani including issuing an arrest warrant, filing a criminal case or initiating a contempt of court case against him. These suggestions, however, were turned down by the commission.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2012.