ISLAMABAD: The army chief has reiterated his stand on the memo controversy, stating that there is truth to the document.
And while the Supreme Court wanted a concrete reply from the federal government on the accusations put forward in the Memogate case by various parties, including the military and intelligence chiefs, it got one late Wednesday night.
The ministry of defence has told the Supreme Court that it has no control over the Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), except simple administrative matters. Hence, it said, it was not in a position to confirm or deny what the two were saying. It also asked the court to not press ahead with the petition.
On Monday, a nine-judge bench of the court had asked all the petitioners and respondents to submit affidavits “to clear cobwebs” left hanging over the political scandal. Each respondent was to reply to the initial statements made by the others in the case.
While Nawaz Sharif and army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani submitted their statements earlier in the day, the ministry of defence and ISI Chief Shuja Pasha submitted their replies around midnight.
President Asif Ali Zardari once again chose not to file a statement with the court, despite the chief justice’s remarks on Monday to the attorney general that further presidential silence would lead the court to an “adverse presumption”.
Meanwhile, the DG ISI submitted a rejoinder, unlike Gen Kayani. His reply focuses on the veracity of the outcome of Mansoor Ijaz’s meeting with him. He had earlier stated that anti-ISI rhetoric obliged him to visit London to see Ijaz. He felt the evidence on memo was overwhelming.
The message sent to the Supreme Court from Sharif and Gen Kayani continues to be simple: bring to book the players in the Memogate affair.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president and the Chief of Army Staff are on the same page, at least in the respect that the memo certainly exists. Both urged the SC to “fully examine the facts” and expose those responsible.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudary is not the only one calling for Zardari to engage in the Memogate case and clear his name. Nawaz Sharif, in his rejoinder to former Ambassador Husain Haqqani’s reply, also urged the president to comply.
“The respondent [Haqqani] and even Mr Zardari now have an ample and clear opportunity provided to them through this petition to clear their names of the allegations internationally levelled against them,” read Sharif’s statement.
Doubt about the part played by former US national security adviser Gen (retd) James Jones was also rolled into Sharif’s rejoinder. “It is anybody’s guess that while being used as a channel, a person of the stature of Mr Jones would check up whether the serious affair in which he was being used was genuine or was it a fake affair,” the statement read.
Sharif piled on the allegations against Haqqani – even accusing him of contempt of court by accusing the SC of “having been affected by emotions rather than due process of law.” Sharif’s rejoinder egged on the court, stating: “Such a slander of this learned court is contempt of the highest order and warrants serious notice and action by this august court.”
Sharif also asked the court to examine in depth the alleged evidence ISI chief Lt Gen Shuja Pasha gathered after his meeting with Mansoor Ijaz in London.
For his affidavit, the army chief reproduced the reply filed earlier in the court: that he had advised Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to establish the details of the memo as soon as possible, as well as recommending that Haqqani be called in to answer for his part in the scandal. “The memo episode has an impact on national security and lowers the morale of the Pakistan Army.”
The proceedings resume on Thursday (today).
Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2011.