ISLAMABAD: The judicial commission probing the Memogate scandal on Thursday turned down Hussain Haqqani’s request that his statement be recorded from abroad via a video link.
Haqqani’s counsel Zahid Bukhari had submitted an application to the Memo commission that sought permission for recording the former ambassador’s statement through video link. The application maintained that Haqqani’s doctors had advised against frequent travel. Bukhari also cited security concerns for his client’s reluctance to return to Pakistan earlier.
“I do not deny the importance of my client’s statement, but due to security threats and his medical condition I request the commission to record his testimony at the Pakistan Embassy in the US,” Bukhari told the commission.
When questioned by the chairman of the commission Justice Qazi Faez Isa regarding the security threats, Bukhari claimed his client had received numerous threatening messages on Facebook and Twitter.
Justice Isa said messages through social media did not necessarily equate to threats against life and asked him to identify which individual or organisation was behind the threats.
The commission also questioned Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri regarding steps to ensure Haqqani’s presence in Pakistan. The DAG, however, denied receiving any written request pertaining to the matter. Jahangiri also refused the commission’s directives to put Haqqani’s name on the Exit Control List.
While rejecting Haqqani’s application, the commission directed him to divulge details of the funds spent during his tenure as an ambassador. The commission also asked his counsel to list his property. Bukhari, in response, maintained that his client had a single bank account in the Abpara branch of the National Bank of Pakistan with a balance of Rs150,000. “My client has no property, he is a poor man,” he asserted.
Meanwhile, Mansoor Ijaz’s counsel Akram Sheikh requested the court to end Haqqani’s right of audience (right of representation).
“Haqqani is continuously disobeying court orders despite giving an undertaking to the apex court… as such his right of representation should be finished,” Sheikh told the commission. His application, however, was rejected as well.
The hearing has been adjourned till May 3. It is expected the commission will hear the case on a daily basis once it resumes.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2012.