Verdict’s in: SC puts its foot down – judiciary to probe memo

Published: December 30, 2011
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CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry says court has not attributed anything to Husain Haqqani, says court not against anyone. PHOTO: AFP

CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry says court has not attributed anything to Husain Haqqani, says court not against anyone. PHOTO: AFP

The court has released a short order and will release a detailed order later. PHOTO: AFP/FILE CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry says court has not attributed anything to Husain Haqqani, says court not against anyone. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Investigations by a panel of the supreme body of the land, the parliament, will not be enough.

The Supreme Court on Friday formed a commission, comprising High Court judges, to probe into the scandal, which has left the country’s executive and military at loggerheads. The commission is to submit its findings within a month.

Delivering a unanimous verdict on the maintainability of petitions, the apex court on Friday said that the petitioners succeeded in establishing a case of public importance with regard to enforcement of fundamental rights, prima facie, under Article 9, 14 and 19-A of the Constitution.

The court cast aside arguments that it could not interfere in matters involving deep political questions and that a violation of a fundamental right was a must to invoke its jurisdiction.

The commission will probe into an unsigned memo that purportedly sought from the US a strong message to the army against an attempt to overthrow the civilian apparatus.

One of the petitioners, Nawaz Sharif, chief of the largest opposition party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, had asked the court to unmask the individuals who tried to ‘destroy the armed forces’ through the ‘treasonous memo’. Listed as respondents in the petitions, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI Director General Ahmed Shuja Pasha had also asked the court to hold a probe into the memo scandal.

Former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani, meanwhile, challenged the court’s jurisdiction to conduct such an exercise through his counsel, Asma Jehangir.

Specifics of the order

Rejecting Jehangir’s argument, the nine-judge bench directed Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq to secure the most important piece of evidence: confirmation on the authenticity of the messages allegedly exchanged between Haqqani and Pakistani-origin American businessman Mansoor Ijaz on their Blackberry phones.

The court directed the foreign secretary and the High Commission of Pakistan in Canada to assist the attorney general and the commission in getting forensic evidence of the conversation from Blackberry’s parent company, Research In Motion.

The order stated that the commission shall ascertain the origin, authenticity and purpose of the memo delivered to former chairman of the US joints chiefs of staff Admiral Mike Mullen.

Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman and Sindh High Court Chief Justice Mushir Alam have been appointed as the members of the commission, while Raja Jawad Abbas Hasan was named secretary of the commission.

The commission is free to avail services of lawyers and experts of forensic science and cyber crimes for completion of the probe in a month, the order stated.

It added that all federal secretaries, the chiefs of Federal Investigation Agency, inspectors general of police of all provinces and Pakistan’s ambassador to the US and high commissioner to the UK shall also assist the commission.

Will the government comply?

Whether the government will comply in terms of logistical and political support, however, remains in question, especially in the backdrop of its refusal to write a letter to the Swiss authorities for reopening cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The bench also reiterated its December 1 directions to Haqqani for not leaving the country without permission.

The court also kept ruling party’s Vice President Babar Awan on the hook.

“Office is directed to put a separate note in the Chambers of Chief Justice of Pakistan along with the transcription of the press conference dated December 1, 2011, of Mr Babar Awan along with replies of the Prime Minister for an appropriate order,” the bench stated.

(Read: SC verdict on memogate)

Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2011.

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Reader Comments (65)

  • Waqas Butt
    Dec 30, 2011 - 2:42PM

    Supreme court should investigate this matter thouroughly and in case if this conspiracy against the state of Pakistan gets proved then the culprits should be made an example for the generations to come.

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  • rehman
    Dec 30, 2011 - 2:46PM

    let me guess its maintainable

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  • anyone
    Dec 30, 2011 - 3:58PM

    @rehman, actually it is not but court and others want to make headlines, that is true for the whole period since judges were restored

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  • MAHER ALI
    Dec 30, 2011 - 4:08PM

    Yesssss.. Its maintainable….

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  • Khan Saab
    Dec 30, 2011 - 4:09PM

    The court has just reminded us the verdict in Bhutto case!

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  • Ammad Malik
    Dec 30, 2011 - 4:13PM

    Great, CJ has driven the last nail in the Judiciary’s coffin. These bunch of geniuses will really find a befitting place in history.

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  • gt
    Dec 30, 2011 - 4:18PM

    “Pieces of evidence”, never “evidences”.

    Such neologisms are corrupting English usage in the Subcontinent and journalists are responsible. Please let us always strive to propagate grammatically sound English. Thank you.

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  • Mohsin
    Dec 30, 2011 - 4:19PM

    Great decision by supreme court. Asma Jahangir left no stone unturned to make it the case of civilian vs military supremacy but kudoos to the apex court. I could never understand when Govt says its nothing more than a piece of paper then what is the need of opposing the investigation. Recommend

  • Mad-Paki
    Dec 30, 2011 - 4:21PM

    Hats off to the SC and the Chief Justice. In your presence at the Apex court, we Pakistanis can take comfortRecommend

  • Seizure
    Dec 30, 2011 - 4:27PM

    Justice served!

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  • aysha
    Dec 30, 2011 - 4:30PM

    a partial judgement

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  • Karl Marx
    Dec 30, 2011 - 4:33PM

    what a waste of time. Everyone know that the memo exists. The question is did HH write it or not!! In a court of law where not a single terrorist have been convicted, I would be astounded if enough proof exists that HH wrote this memo. If a verdict is against HH then it would surely be political.

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  • Wasif
    Dec 30, 2011 - 4:35PM

    CJ thats the way dont come under pressure we have to get rid of traitors. Good Luck hon. Judges.Recommend

  • humaira
    Dec 30, 2011 - 4:39PM

    Every one wants to become Hero and today’s hero is one again CJ I ftikhar but renowned legal experts claimed that CJ is biased .
    I am not in favour of Mr Haqqani but SC should look DG ISI role also .why safe passage is given to him is he above law ????????Recommend

  • Dr Sahib (PIA)
    Dec 30, 2011 - 4:40PM

    As expected !

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  • Imran
    Dec 30, 2011 - 4:59PM

    What a charade and waste of resources and precious time, when from day 1 PCO judges had taken a position. Were we expecting them to reverse that?Recommend

  • adeel cheema
    Dec 30, 2011 - 5:04PM

    As an overseas pakistani I am astonished to find that the PPP government are hell bent on opposing the supreme court from investigating the memogate issue. If they have nothing to hide as they claim, then they do not need to fear anything. Having said that the vigorous way in which they fought the supreme court to hear the case, it appears there must be some truth in the memo issue and the government are running scared. Like they say there is no smoke without fire….Recommend

  • Dr.(KL)
    Dec 30, 2011 - 5:11PM

    Sir, I say that justice is truth in action.
    How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment, we can start now, start slowly changing the world! How lovely that everyone, great and small, can make their contribution toward introducing justice straightaway… And you can always, always give something, even if it is only kindness!
    Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right.

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  • Afaaq
    Dec 30, 2011 - 5:16PM

    How is the SC biased by investigating the ”Memo” ??? I would recommend everyone to read the contents of the memo before jumping to any conclusions. The PPP govt has done everything in their powers to stop this memo from being investigated, is that not suspicious? Give credit where its due. This matter is not about supporting the PPP, PML or PTI. This memo is an insult to all Pakistanis.

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  • MAHER ALI
    Dec 30, 2011 - 5:25PM

    @ Afaaq.. I Pakistanis had felt INSULT they could have done something LONG AGO…..

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  • zezu
    Dec 30, 2011 - 5:38PM

    asma, you failed!!

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  • Ishrat Salim
    Dec 30, 2011 - 5:45PM

    How can anyone pass judgement that SC/ CJs are being baised…..opinions are ok…but we hv to give credit to SC for this order as it has not covicted anybody yet…..commission has been formed to look into claims & counter claims of each parties….in which case we need to wait till final verdict…why is the govt trying to put obstacles if this memo issue is just a piece of paper ?? investigation will bring out the truth…is`nt it…??

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  • K. Salim Jahangir
    Dec 30, 2011 - 6:33PM

    Now truth will come out !

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  • Nabeel
    Dec 30, 2011 - 6:47PM

    Justice maintained!

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  • Saleem
    Dec 30, 2011 - 6:54PM

    Before picking on courts just look around and see state of affairs in the country. Be happy that at last there is a lone voice out there trying to restore some order in this corrupt & broken country. Are those who keep bashing Supreme Court are of the view that it should leave affairs of the country alone and let them go where they are headed by inept and corrupt politicians?

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  • Imran
    Dec 30, 2011 - 6:58PM

    Gate opened for the overthrow of future civilian governments. It used to be the “doctrine of necessity”. From today, it will be “the doctrine of national security”.

    Thank you Supreme Court, Thank you very much!

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  • MAD
    Dec 30, 2011 - 7:37PM

    @Imran:

    Now that is plain silly. anyone with half a brain would know that nothing concrete links the president here. there is unlikely to be much evidence and haqqani too will probably get away scot free. the government by its own actions is giving people a presumption of guilt. nothing will happen except that in a few months the case will be settled with a lot of negative publicity for the govt and in the end maybe even worse publicity for PMLN. the PPP may somewhat benefit here in that the Jiyalas have awakened from their slumber and are back to their idealogical stance.

    And if the purpose here is to discredit the sitting government then it wasnt needed, theyre doing a more than adequate job of discrediting themselves without any intervention as it is.

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  • AZMAT KHAN
    Dec 30, 2011 - 8:15PM

    We are living in the era of judicial dictatorship.

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  • Usman
    Dec 30, 2011 - 8:37PM

    @Afaaq:
    Well said and completely agree

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  • Maulvi Imran Ahmed
    Dec 30, 2011 - 8:51PM

    The government is suspected of “conspiring” to sack some generals when every civilian government has the right to hire, fire or transfer officers in the bureaucracy and the subordinate uniformed services. On this allegation a senior ambassador is made to resign and he is put on the ECL. The inquiry is taken over by the court even though a higher inquiry is being conducted by a Parliamentary Committee – all to investigate a plan to allegedly fire a couple of generals.

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  • Ahmed Saeed
    Dec 30, 2011 - 9:09PM

    @MAD:
    Which ideological stance are you taking. God help Pakistan. Are your jiyalas awakening to get this country out of quagmire. Are you happy with what is happening in this country. What a conscious you have. For God sake save this country.

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  • Maulana Diesel
    Dec 30, 2011 - 9:16PM

    @AZMAT KHAN:
    Humorous

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  • Maulvi Imran Ahmed
    Dec 30, 2011 - 9:27PM

    When the sovereignty of Pakistans soil was violated by US marines near Abbotabad a question regarding incompetence or collusion by national security forces was also raised. The prima facie evidence was compelling. Was any uniformed figure subjected to deprivation of the fundamental legal right to be presumed innocent? Or even suspended pending an impartial enquiry?

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  • Cautious
    Dec 30, 2011 - 11:04PM

    @Afaaq

    How is the SC biased by investigating
    the ”Memo” ???

    It’s biased because the SC has gone out of it’s way to be selective in what it wants to investigate. The person who started this mess made two allegations — the first being your govt went to the USA for help in preventing a coup — the second was that your military went to the Arabs for approval of the coup. Going to the USA to prevent a coup is considered treason but for some reason no one wants to investigate the military which were planning the alleged coup. Selective use of facts is something that no court is suppose to condone let alone sponsor.

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  • Sabrina Khan
    Dec 31, 2011 - 12:20AM

    Asma Jehangir tried her level best to turn this into a civil-military conflict but she could not succeed; this matter needs through investigation..

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  • truepak
    Dec 31, 2011 - 12:29AM

    we should be greatful to the judges.if it were not for them then this govt might have succeeded in carrying out the rest of their ”manshoor”.i thiink everyone knows what that means.Recommend

  • hasan
    Dec 31, 2011 - 2:07AM

    @anyone:
    You are wrong! The court has declared the Memogate case to be maintainable. Where do unqualified people (and yes I do mean you!) get off in second guessing determinations of the Supreme Court?

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  • Saad
    Dec 31, 2011 - 3:02AM

    another verdict faxed to Islamabad from Rawalpindi!

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  • Pro Bono Publico
    Dec 31, 2011 - 3:47AM

    Plunder Pakistan Party (PPP) has a history of hurting the nation’s interest. PPP’s founding chairman helped create BD so that he could get a kursi too. The First Looter of Pakistan Zardari claims to be ZAB’s “roohani” successor, so what else to expect from the owner of many a foreign palace and bank account!

    Recommend

  • amir jafri
    Dec 31, 2011 - 5:05AM

    Pakistan needs Justice….and these jamhooraas of corruption, nepotism, chicanery and sleeping with the enemy ,alongwith their their machiavellian “advisors”, be hanged in public on live TV….

    ENOUGH is ENOUGH!Recommend

  • MarkH
    Dec 31, 2011 - 6:21AM

    The people not knowing why the government is opposing the investigation should keep their hands away from the keyboard. Here, I’ll tell you.
    1. It’s about them playing their correct role. That’s why you have so many different institutions. They all have their place.
    2. The longer it’s in the media, the dumber the country looks as a whole. You’re making yourselves something as a joke obsessing over this.
    3. Restrictions are set on people and places that are being investigated.
    4. The small technicalities are there for a reason. If the court oversteps them even once and it’s accepted, it no longer protects anyone due to a lawyer being able to reference grounds for going around it. That includes an innocent citizen getting accused of those things.
    5. You guys cry about negative media about your country all the time. Just ask the BBC. You say it’s not proven but there’s a verdict being given, it’s happening even more in the case of this memo.
    6. The way people are going about it is completely throwing everything out of whack. The army, isi and the judiciary is all overstepping for a witch hunt. If they can overstep like that without civilian resistance even just once, especially when it comes to something like this, if you think the way things are run are bad now. Just wait until your wished for PM Imran Khan gets into power and he has absolutely no power left because they can overstep every single time that “change” is not in their interest.
    7. It’s making every institution apart from the army, isi and the judiciary as being weak and not worthy of any form of respect in regard to their assigned authorities. That will follow over to future elected officials in the damaged institutions, as well.
    8. I could keep going but if I really have to, at this point, you’re a lost cause and a future headache… Possibly a broken laptop as well.
    x. I just realized CIA will pass a spell check but not ISI. How funny is that on a Pakistani news site?

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  • Dec 31, 2011 - 6:22AM

    Asma Jahangir is right.
    Today’s verdict that will live in infamy.

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  • Khadim Husain
    Dec 31, 2011 - 7:44AM

    Asma Jahangir and peoples party have a history, not to accept court verdicts against them. In courts PPP never fight on legal grounds but try to make political every case. That is why Bhutto was hanged by using filthy language against judges, threats and insults. All those big lions that are roaring today did not turn up when Bhutto was hanged for protests. In whole Pakistan only 4000-5000 persons protested. At Liaqat Bagh I witnessed only 1500 peoples turned up. Read papers of early days after execution. Same as all those that are insulting courts would likely disappear from the scene when courts will fix one for insulting Supreme Courts.

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  • Humayun Bhatty
    Dec 31, 2011 - 7:45AM

    We are proud of our Supreme Court. An excellent verdict.

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  • K B Kale
    Dec 31, 2011 - 7:51AM

    That all nine judges in this case concurred with the verdict smells of a ‘diktat’ or a whip by CJ. To that extent I agree with Ms Asma.
    Has CJ of Pakistan become a dictator himself?

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  • anonymus
    Dec 31, 2011 - 8:26AM

    why CJ wasted time and money?
    what he said on day one said again today also!!!!!!!
    HH on ECL
    and commission- difference that Mr Khosa refused and now three judges

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  • Zaman
    Dec 31, 2011 - 8:40AM

    Let the corrupt face the tune. Let justice be served. Committing treason against the nation of Pakistan and its people and then trying to hide when the whistle blew so loud validates corruption. Thank God it got stopped in its tracks before it caused much damage. Now its time for Supreme Court and CJ to step up boldly and confidently and make a mark in history for every Pakistani to be proud of its justice system. Excellent verdict by Supreme Court and honorable CJ! Pakistan is proudly watching justice being served!

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  • Bilafond
    Dec 31, 2011 - 9:37AM

    In my opinion the First casualty was “Truth” the Last may also be ‘Truth’

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  • Ammad Malik
    Dec 31, 2011 - 9:47AM

    @ MarkH

    Do you think our country would be where it is if people had any common sense? Never mind the champs commenting here, go listen to our intellectuals and analysts. It can’t all be a conspiracy, a lot of it is just plain stupidity.

    I agree on all points but 1. It is not the website applying the spellcheck, it’s your computer!

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  • RizwanTKhan
    Dec 31, 2011 - 10:02AM

    Right decision by SC.

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  • Beatle
    Dec 31, 2011 - 10:28AM

    Stars and Crowns shine, yet again.
    Independant Judiciary – Zinda-BAD.

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  • ather Qureshi
    Dec 31, 2011 - 12:13PM

    Mark, Your comments can be correct if they are directed at an established democratic country. In our country the ruling party starts acting as dictators, telling opposition that they have been rejected by the people (and hence they have no say!). This is what People party has been doing all along. Read history. We have been thru it all along. We need someone to check on these “unruly rulers”, otherwise Army steps in. So Supreme court is a better option than Army, where at least people’s voices can be heard.

    May be you are carried away by the western outlook of the People’s party and balck sheeps like Asma Jahangir. Or possibly because PPP serves the purpose of the western world.

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  • MAD
    Dec 31, 2011 - 1:05PM

    ofcourse its maintainable. anyone who says otherwise should come up with valid points to the contraray. all they come up with is undermining of democracy. democracy would be undermined only if each institution fails to do its job.Recommend

  • R S JOHAR
    Dec 31, 2011 - 3:00PM

    This news is the headlines in many Indian dailies.

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  • Hasan Mehmood
    Dec 31, 2011 - 3:49PM

    The issue is too serious to be left hanging in the air irrespective of Asma Jehangir’s brilliant arguments which would have been acceptable if the case was not so sensational carrying profound implications.
    We just need to know that do the contents of the memo (even if not initiated by the HaqqanI or Zardari) were tacitly supported or encouraged or known (before delivery to Mike Mullen) by the Haqqani / Govt and represent the mindset of Zardari & Co.

    If so, its a case of high treason (atleast intent to commit). The same shall be true even if it was a sting operation (my favorite theory) planned by Army / ISI in cooperation with MI to trap Zardari.

    All this talk of Army / ISI vs civilian supremacy is good for academic thesis but * in this case. Yes you can ask for USA support against percieved threat to democaracy in our peculiar context and history and perhaps Shahbaz Sharif did it before. Again that misses the point. THE ONLY ISSUE IS THE ALLEGED QUID PRO WHICH IS SCANDALOUS AND TREACHEROUS FOR 99% PAKISTANIS INCLUDING THE MOST LIBERAL / PRO DEMOCRACY / PRO PEACE / ANTI TALIBAN FORCES

    Dear Editor: You let Indians post multiple comments on each and every post even if it does not concern them but are reluctant in case of local contributors.Recommend

  • Maulvi Imran Ahmed
    Dec 31, 2011 - 6:11PM

    The reason a bench with more than one judge is appointed is that more than one person applies his/her mind and conscience to the task. If the judges either follow their leader or vote for a unanimous verdict, justice is subverted. If the judges shy away from writing individually reasoned judgments, that too is suspect. I hope our learned judges continue to uphold the highest traditions of judicial behaviour.
    The same reasoning applies to multiple MPAs or MNAs in Parliament. If the individual parliamentarian abrogates his conscience to the party leader then the concept of democracy is doomed.

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  • Dec 31, 2011 - 6:12PM

    The government is suspected of “conspiring” to sack some generals when every civilian government has the right to hire, fire or transfer officers in the bureaucracy and the subordinate uniformed services. On this allegation a senior ambassador is made to resign and he is put on the ECL. The inquiry is taken over by the court even though a higher inquiry is being conducted by a Parliamentary Committee – all to investigate a plan to allegedly fire a couple of generals. When the sovereignty of Pakistan’s soil was violated by US marines near Abbotabad a question regarding incompetence or collusion by national security forces was also raised. The prima facie evidence was compelling. Was any uniformed figure subjected to deprivation of the fundamental legal right to be presumed innocent? Or even suspended pending an impartial enquiry?

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  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Dec 31, 2011 - 7:03PM

    SC has lost with a woman . Asma has the main switch of the case now . Nothing will come out from the SC investigation . It is merely a waste ot time .The intention of The CJ is known to the world .

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  • Maulvi Imran Ahmed
    Dec 31, 2011 - 10:21PM

    @Hasan Mehmood I agree with some of your views but the issue will not be resolved by this enquiry. In any case unanimous verdicts if unsupported by individual judgments leave a bad impression, I hope we will read individual judgments from all the lord justices. No one would enjoy witnessing a comeuppance to the incumbent political dispensation more than I.
    The military is a subordinate uniformed service and should be tightly confined to its constitutional role. If it plans a sting to bring down a legitimate government then this would be treason.

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  • Hasan Mehmood
    Jan 1, 2012 - 1:02AM

    @Zeeshan:
    {all to investigate a plan to allegedly fire a couple of generals}
    Is that the sum total of your understanding? Have you really not read the contents of MEMO? Ignorance is bliss after all.

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  • Aftab kenneth Wilson
    Jan 1, 2012 - 1:39AM

    The commission appointed by the SC should immediately give its verdict ” It is not maintainable” and that’s is it. For how long civilian governments and its leaderships right from the judicial murder of its first elected PM and all successive governments including the present one suffer??? Interpreting the constitution according to the liking of some must now stop. They are the one who give extra life to all dictators but are always in a swing when ever elected come to power.

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  • Pro Bono Publico
    Jan 1, 2012 - 6:01AM

    @Khan Saab:
    Bhutto case? Who killed Pakistan? ZA Bhutto? Who killed AR Kasuri’s father? ZA Bhutto was a dictator bent upon imposing his power, lives of the nation or others did not matter to him. Why doubt the Supreme Court!

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  • Arif
    Jan 1, 2012 - 3:35PM

    Memogate scandal is a case of “clear and present danger” to the national security, and not a simple “political issue”, as the defense lawyer tried to portray. In such situation of national security, and in the absence of a formal National Security Council (which the House already abolished) and the “high” government functionaries themselves are alleged to be involved, who better than the Supreme Court to deal with such grave situations. I am sure, Ms. Asma and PPP would not want the security institutions (like Pak Army) to resolve the issue on their own, (or perhaps they would) !!!

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  • Maulvi Imran Ahmed
    Jan 1, 2012 - 4:20PM

    @Arif I guess you also admire the national security geniuses who also defended our nation in 1971, during Kargil and latterly near Abbotabad and Karachi? Are these geniuses and their intellectual greatness perhaps the ever present danger to freedom and civilian rule?

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  • Hasan Mehmood
    Jan 3, 2012 - 1:39AM

    @Maulvi Imran Ahmed:
    {the issue will not be resolved by this enquiry}
    How do you suppose to find out truth?By Parliamentary Commitee?
    Just want proof that such treacherous ideas cant possibly enter our ruling elite’s mind so that I can sleep easy. Everything else is secondary.

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