Memogate case: Asma Jehangir drags ISI chief into the ring

Published: December 28, 2011
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Asma Jehangir, counsel for former ambassador to US Husain Haqqani in the Memogate case. PHOTO: TARIQ HASSAN/EXPRESS/FILE

Asma Jehangir, counsel for former ambassador to US Husain Haqqani in the Memogate case. PHOTO: TARIQ HASSAN/EXPRESS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The role of the country’s premier intelligence agency came under the spotlight at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, as Asma Jehangir, counsel for former ambassador to US Husain Haqqani, defended her client in the Memogate case.

In an assertion that blurred the boundaries between the alleged perpetrators and the victims in the case, Jehangir termed Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha’s visit to London as a venture against the government.

“Many of us inside this courtroom are guilty of treason if the ISI’s statement is to be believed,” Jehangir said to a nine-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

“The likes of Benazir Bhutto and Wali Khan are also traitors by its standards,” she said.

Jehangir also challenged the court order on probe, and how far the court could go in supervising an investigation.

‘Nailing’ the issue

She argued that the unsigned memo had been blown way out of proportion following the publishing of an article by Mansoor Ijaz, the Pakistani-origin American businessman and the self-proclaimed whistleblower in the Memogate scandal. Ijaz had also claimed that the government had prior knowledge of the Abbottabad raid.

The article on Abbottabad incident came after Ijaz met with DG ISI, who should be asked to explain his position, she added.

“You have hit the nail on its head, Asma. This is exactly what we want to do,” Justice Jawad S Khwaja replied.

She said the court could not do that because it involved political questions, which were excluded from the court’s jurisdiction.

“Yes, we can do it under the constitution. We have already done a lot and we would continue to do more,” the judge replied. Jehangir said the petitions filed in the memo case did not raise any violation of fundamental rights and contained numerous flaws, including intangible claims.

Justice Khwaja observed that the petitioner was probably in a hurry to file it to the court.

“Everybody seemed in a hurry on the subject. The Chief of Army Staff also claimed [in his meeting with the prime minister] that time is of the essence and the prime minister should take a stand on the memo issue,” Jehangir said.

Court’s jurisdiction

Earlier, the chief justice asked Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq to state why Interior Secretary, in his reply to the Supreme Court, had dubbed the memo ‘a piece of paper’ when the government made Haqqani resign and later ordered a probe.

He has the right to express himself, especially in the backdrop of the media coverage of the memo that has raised insinuations, Haq replied.

He said the court’s power under Article 184(3), under which the petitions are being heard, were not unfettered because such a case could only be entertained only after determining that it contained a question pertaining to ‘the enforcement of fundamental rights’.

Haq said he does not believe that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case but that it should exercise restraint because of the proceedings of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security on memogate scandal.

The chief justice said that the working of the committee could not obstruct the court from exercising its constitutional powers to entertain the case.

“Why should we shut our eyes when we know what happened after Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated, the country broke into two parts and Benazir Bhutto was murdered,” the chief justice observed.

Regarding the non-submission of President Zaradri’s reply in the case, the chief justice said he had been asked to, but he ‘chose not to,’ ostensibly due to ‘some reasons’.

The attorney general also submitted the prime minister’s reply on Dr Babar Awan’s press conference which the court found to be ‘derogatory.’

The premier reiterated his earlier stance that the press conference had given historical perspective and was not meant to ridicule the judiciary in any manner.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (49)

  • Saleem
    Dec 28, 2011 - 6:18AM

    Asma is trying to create a circus without answering the main question what why a so called elected government through its representative would ask a foreign power to help get rid of its army chief.

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  • Cautious
    Dec 28, 2011 - 6:20AM

    Kudos to Asma Jehangir – she is asking questions that the media should have been raising from day one. Pretty clear to me that overthrowing an elected govt is far worse that an elected govt reaching out to a foreigner to assist in averting a coup. Seems to me that some inside Pakistan have forgotten that the way you remove lousy politicians is to vote them out of office.

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  • Ali
    Dec 28, 2011 - 6:33AM

    The lady sure has some guts!

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  • Dec 28, 2011 - 6:45AM

    I am surprised as the way of reporting , according to news reporting principals , a reporter should add the lines without adding its own bias but it seems ET reporters and editors are forgetting this principle these days.

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  • Dec 28, 2011 - 7:16AM

    Asma Jehangir is fighting like a lion.

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  • Dec 28, 2011 - 7:43AM

    All this amounts to nothing. Not not individuals, but the system which is wrong. Military/ISI is what is wrong in Pakistan, not Kayani/Pasha, although they symbolize this problem.

    But, a brave stand. Hope is not assassinated or falls to an accident.

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  • Imran
    Dec 28, 2011 - 7:43AM

    @bangash:
    Asma Jehangir is fighting like a lion against hyenas.

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  • Jonzaib
    Dec 28, 2011 - 7:47AM

    The day she met baal thakrey in that safron dress i knew she was not working in our interest.

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  • Guru
    Dec 28, 2011 - 7:47AM

    What memo-gate has to do with May 2. Yes Pasha should have resigned/forced to resign after May 2… but than all this memo-gate…president and ambassador scheming against has own army, nuclear assets and country is not right either.Two wrongs does not make one right.

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  • Imran
    Dec 28, 2011 - 7:48AM

    @codename.trailblazer: “the most hated woman in Pakistan. the old lady should be jailed for her evil designs.”

    She might be most hated woman by the establishment and its stooges, but Pakistani people admire her courage. Her “evil” designs are well aligned with the interests of common Pakistanis, which acts as a thorn to the establishment.

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  • AnisAqeel
    Dec 28, 2011 - 7:49AM

    Thank you Asma, very well presented. The real culprits must be exposed and we are confident of your abilities. Bring in DG ISI and COAS for deposition and it will be easy to tear them apart (argumentatively). As the Chief Justice mentioned, we must not shut our eyes after the killing of Liaqat Ali Khan, Breaking of Pakistan and Benazir’s assassinations (could have been His own life too). Culprits must be exposed and you can do it. BTW how did you read my mind! I was thinking the same way you argued. May God be with you and come out with a great success (that I don’t doubt).

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  • Ch Allah Daad
    Dec 28, 2011 - 7:49AM

    She has a brave heart.

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  • care
    Dec 28, 2011 - 7:53AM

    Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha’s visit to London as a venture against the government.
    ISN’T THIS HIS EVIL INTENTIONS . . .???Recommend

  • AnisAqeel
    Dec 28, 2011 - 7:59AM

    @codename.trailblazer:
    Some men should wear bangles and observe purda, as they are not fit to fight like men. Thank you Asma expose the guilty.

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  • Paki-Australian
    Dec 28, 2011 - 8:01AM

    ASMA Jahangir is a human rights champion, a women of steel who deserves the utmost respect and nothing less. She is right in requesting ISI chief to attend to this matter before court.

    I do not associate with PPP, PML or PTI but I am with the elected govt on this matter. SC must respect the fact that people’s elected govt is investigating the matter. SC needs to stop sticking its nose in EVERY BLOODY HOLE it can find.

    It seems SC is allowing ISI and ARMY to use the apex court to get reign in the govt. SC will only loose respect if it followed the path establishment wants it to (like the Army lost respect after OBL Abbotabad incident!)

    Wait and see.Recommend

  • HoneyBee
    Dec 28, 2011 - 8:10AM

    @codename.trailblazer:
    do u have some personal grudge against her ?

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  • Adnan
    Dec 28, 2011 - 8:11AM

    Bravo Asma Jehangir! You are one of the most courageous people around. Hats off to your courage!! Pasha should be asked his eagerness to investigate the matter at his own.

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  • Falcon
    Dec 28, 2011 - 8:12AM

    She is one of the few credible faces in PPP govt.

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  • HoneyBee
    Dec 28, 2011 - 8:13AM

    @Saleem:
    is army chief the employee of Pakistan or USA ?

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  • jamila bano
    Dec 28, 2011 - 8:19AM

    A flower of haven who stands against oppressors

    no words to explain her bravery …an angel

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  • saqibt
    Dec 28, 2011 - 8:21AM

    @Saleem:
    a) Asma is not repsenting government; her client is Haqqani
    b) No party has ever blamed government for writing this memo

    Your comments are made on a presumed guilt by the government. This is the motivation of generals, judges and opposition behind this scam.

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  • saqibtahir
    Dec 28, 2011 - 8:27AM

    @codename.trailblazer:
    This brave lady has faced every dictator since Yahya Khan like a lion. Jails cannot deter her from fighting againt the forces of dark

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  • rehana bibi khan
    Dec 28, 2011 - 8:30AM

    love you Asma

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  • Zak
    Dec 28, 2011 - 8:33AM

    Haqqani is disgracing Army which he could’nt do through memo, by unleashing asma who it seems has personal vendetta against army and ISI

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  • codename.trailblazer
    Dec 28, 2011 - 8:33AM

    @ AnisAqeel
    Here as per your narrative, someone himself looks henpecked by a woman.Thanks for dragging the topic into sexism which it wasnt to start off with.Fighting case for a man who issued 500+ visas without FO’s consent stands as crime that has to be payed off.

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  • ishaq
    Dec 28, 2011 - 8:40AM

    ISI should stop playing Dirty Games. Well done Asma

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  • Imran
    Dec 28, 2011 - 9:25AM

    @Falcon: She is one of the few credible faces in PPP govt.

    Credible indeed she is… but she is neither in PPP nor in the government.

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  • Feroz
    Dec 28, 2011 - 9:26AM

    Let the Truth unfold.

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  • shaan
    Dec 28, 2011 - 9:50AM

    @saqibt
    how you call it a scam clarifies how ‘rationally’ you look at it.We dont know what happened in real. I just want to ask one thing..The general attorney calls its a mere ‘piece of paper’ and should be ignored. How can this be ignored? It can simply be verified by blackberry chatter records and only a guilty one can try to ignore this..Please answer truthfully,i will await your reply.

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  • R S JOHAR
    Dec 28, 2011 - 9:53AM

    The brave lady is at it again. Hope she succeeds in her mission.

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  • xor
    Dec 28, 2011 - 10:08AM

    Asking a foreign force to intervene Pakistan affairs is BIGGER CRIME then army intervention in Paksitan’s political setup.

    This cannot be justify in any situation.

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  • forgive and forget
    Dec 28, 2011 - 10:36AM

    @Saleem

    why a so called elected government through its representative would ask a foreign power to help get rid of its army chief.

    Sir jee, just two things,

    A. The Supreme Court is still trying to find out if the elected government had anything to do with the memo or if this is all a Pasha and Ijaz show.

    B. Have you read the memo? In which part do you find the foreign power getting rid of the Army Chief. As per the Constitution of Pakistan the PM can send the Chief, on extension, packing anytime. It appears the entire tamasha has been created to prevent this eventuality.

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  • Beatle
    Dec 28, 2011 - 11:10AM

    @saqibtahir:
    Not only Asma, but her younger mate Hina Jilanee (HRCP) and their late father Ghulam Jilan – who fought bravely agaisnt military dictators. Really courageous family.

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  • Umer
    Dec 28, 2011 - 11:56AM

    @Saleem
    The ISI chief is creating an even bigger circus by not resigning after the May 2 incident, the Mehran Base Attack and the Nov 26 Nato attacks. Pakistan has never had such security failures in its entire history. If you consider Mansoor Ijaz to be so truthful that Hussain Haqqani had to resign as ambassador, then according to the same logic the DG-ISI should resign as he has been accused by the SAME person to be plotting a coup against an elected government. Why do you have such double standards? Or do you consider the army under civilian control a much bigger crime than the army overthrowing an elected government by a coup?

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  • Sher khan
    Dec 28, 2011 - 12:07PM

    Someone should ask her, why will she meet bal Thackeray of India, who has such profound hatred for Islam. Sad sad affairs of our state. Who has the guts to ask for her accountability, whereas she keeps on pointing fingers on everyone in our country !!!!Recommend

  • Nadeem
    Dec 28, 2011 - 12:12PM

    How sad she has been given so little coverage in media. She is fighting our WAR the war of the people of Pakistan. Brava !

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  • Khurram Mansoor
    Dec 28, 2011 - 12:21PM

    What a confused nation

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  • Naveed Alam Khattak
    Dec 28, 2011 - 12:25PM

    I think your days are counted….
    You are acting as an agent, using the same language against ISI & Army as US but in a different way. I am not in favor of military coup but I dont want democracy at the sake of Pakistan. Haqqani is a US citizen while kiyani & Pasha are pure Pakistanis. They know the pane of death of a soldier. Can someone answer me, who is there among these politicians who are ready to send their sons at the border region of Afghanistan to fight against the so called Taliban (foreigner agents).

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  • mehdi
    Dec 28, 2011 - 12:53PM

    ISI chief said he would come to court some time back , why would Aasma Gillani drag him to court?

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  • Mirza
    Dec 28, 2011 - 1:15PM

    @Naveed Alam Khattak: You wrote “I think your days are counted….”

    Is this a death threat?

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  • Sadia
    Dec 28, 2011 - 2:06PM

    @bangash:
    correction: ‘lioness’ is the appropriate word here.

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  • Dec 28, 2011 - 4:56PM

    Unsigned document,
    everything has been explained verbally,
    so the stand taken by the Asma is according to law.

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  • Dec 28, 2011 - 5:09PM

    constitution says,
    all institution are under the federation
    and chief of the central government is the prime minister,
    Asma is right when argue that ISI chief violated the constitution by visiting
    abroad and had meeting with man who is not credible.

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  • Nadia
    Dec 28, 2011 - 5:23PM

    How can Mansoor Ijaz ask Pasha to come to London and do this for him? The memo was already delivered to Mullen therefore the letter which Ijaz showed to Pasha is at best a copy. Has anyone considered this? This all a strange happening and must discredit the current Pakistan government. Do not trust ISI because it will do anything to keep itself in power. Mansoor Ijaz is a highly dubious character. What hope of truth can we expect from a man who shamelessly brags that he is an ‘ultra wealthy’ man. It’s clear he is seeking attention. I’ve seen his interviews and he is an American stooge who has let no opportunity go by in the past to malign Pakistan. No wonder he only finds place to air his worthless non-opinions on a channel like Fox News. You still won’t be able to make any place in Washington power circles Mr. Ijaz

    Recommend

  • Suhail Ahmed
    Dec 28, 2011 - 5:29PM

    Ijaz established the authenticity of the said memo (unsigned by the unnamed author) through the transcripts of BBM conversation that Ijaz claimed took place between him and Mr Haqqani. The BBM conversation involves many subjects of discussion and looks like a heap of different chinwags that someone gives out while establishing himself as an informed person of worth. One thing that the Pakistani media has conveniently chosen to ignore is Ijaz’s confirmation to Mr Haqqani in the BBM conversation that some ‘P’ had gotten the nod from some Arab states for toppling the Zardari government in Pakistan. One wonders if the initial investigator paid any heed to this part of the said BBM conversation transcript or tried to know who that Mr/Ms P was.

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  • Wajahat Hussain
    Dec 28, 2011 - 5:32PM

    Considering that Mr Haqqani has been an ardent supporter of civilian supremacy and key opponent of Pakistan’s strategic depth policy in Afghanistan, he might have been a target of the strategic depth (SD) proponents and advocates of peace with the Taliban. While it is quite clear now that the US State Department is keen to secure a deal with the ‘good Taliban’ (from an American perspective), they might prefer a slightly pro-Taliban and pro-SD officials (or even government) in Islamabad that would be better placed in working with the so far ‘bad guys’ turned ‘workable’ Taliban. Getting rid of Mr Haqqani was, thus, in the interest of the ‘peace process’ and ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan. Here we see the merger of forces advocating ‘peace process’ and ‘strategic depth’, apparently at odds with each other so far. Is Mr Haqqani the first civilian casualty in Pakistan of the peace process in Afghanistan?Recommend

  • Dec 28, 2011 - 7:50PM

    The question before us is that
    the petition going on in the apex court
    comes under jurisdiction of the supreme court.

    Front line lawyers has distance and saying it does not come under the apex court jurisdiction,but some agreed on the other hand.
    As for Asma jahangeer’s arguments are concerned they has specific weight in this connection,attorney general,representing the federation is fully agreed with Osma defense counsel of Mr.Huqqany former ambassador in the United States.
    No doubt, it is a time of test
    Supreme court consisting on nine judges hearing the case,hope would come to the conclusion which accept not to all but those adopted the specific line leading to right direction I mean the constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
    In case,
    some one want to create imbalance in the constitutional democratic system,they should keep in mind the fact that judiciary is a balance wheel of whole system.

    Recommend

  • adeel
    Dec 28, 2011 - 11:22PM

    @Wajahat Hussain:
    Very well analyzed and said but who is going to hear the truth. What a bad luck of our nation.

    Recommend

  • M. Shahjahan Bhatti
    Dec 29, 2011 - 5:42PM

    We badly need a home security model to keep institutions in check. Supreme Court must take responsibility over intelligence agencies. Where generals played havoc with people, politicians and media were not far away. I fully agree with Asma Jehangir that we are confronting day of reckoning. We must take concrete measures to eradicate poverty, diseases and ignorance from our country.

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