Mansoor Ijaz has, after all, decided against visiting Pakistan to record his testimony before the judicial commission probing the Memogate controversy.
A day before the third sitting of the judicial commission probing the controversial memo, the key witness invited the commission to record his testimony at a place of his choice, outside Pakistan.
His lawyer, Akram Sheikh, said that Ijaz has decided to record his testimony in Zurich or London, following the “deviation” of the federal government and armed forces from their respective proclamation to provide him security.
According to an application submitted by Ijaz, through his counsel, to the commission on Monday, by virtue of Para 9 (e) of the order of the Supreme Court, the commission was mandated to collect evidence within and outside Pakistan.
It further said that in order to “unravel the truth” and expose Haqqani’s ‘fraudulent’ version, the applicant had decided to undertake the risk of travelling to Pakistan and continues to be willing to do so, in letter and spirit.
However, following ‘threats’ by Interior Minister Rehman Malik received on ‘a daily basis’, the applicant ‘reluctantly relented’ and decided not to visit Pakistan under any circumstances.
Ijaz further said that “the very institution charged with his protection (the Interior Ministry) is acting under the orders of the individuals against whom he is deposing as a witness and is headed by an individual (Rehman Malik) who almost daily makes threats and charges against the applicant.”
The application further pointed out that security arrangements for Ijaz were assigned to the interior ministry instead of the army as requested by the applicant and ordered by the commission on January 9 and January 16.
‘Trap’ in security arrangements
Ijaz’s counsel Sheikh echoed the concerns with security arrangements at a press conference on the premises of the Supreme Court, saying that his client would not fall prey to the government ‘trap’.
“It seems like a well orchestrated trap to hold Ijaz indefinitely in Pakistan after his deposition before the commission,” he said.
The lawyer said that the IGP visited him to discuss security arrangements and said if the need arose, they would request the army to provide additional security to Ijaz.
However, he added, that the IGP failed to comment on whether or not Ijaz’s name would be placed on the ECL and, if his return from Pakistan would remain unobstructed.
Ijaz deliberately raising objections: AGP
Reacting sharply to the press conference, Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq said, “What trap; what is he talking about? Does he know under whose order he is travelling to Pakistan?”
The attorney general added that an army officer had been named to make security arrangements for Ijaz, even though the commission had, in its order, used the word ‘may’ for provision of additional security for him.
While talking to reporters outside the Supreme Court, he said he felt as if Ijaz was deliberately raising objections to avoid giving a testimony before the commission.
Through his application before the commission, Ijaz volunteered to hand over documentary evidence of former ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani’s involvement in the scandal.
He claimed of holding valuable equipment/evidence, which will settle the controversy; however if it ends up in the wrong hands there is a possibility of tampering and destruction.
Ijaz further suggested that the entire commission or any of its members meet him outside Pakistan to take into possession his original, unhampered Blackberry handsets, recorded messages, emails, call logs and hand notes and, also, record his oral testimony.
Ijaz wasting commission’s time: Haqqani
On the other hand, Haqqani has alleged that Ijaz is not attending the proceedings of the commission without a lawful reason or excuse.
In an application submitted before the commission on Monday, Haqqani stated that the commission has accepted all of Ijaz’s demands and even the dates are being fixed on his desire. Even the attorney general and the government, he added, arranged foolproof security, yet Ijaz’s attitude and conduct clearly shows he is ‘playing with the sentiments of the nation’ and also ‘wasting the precious time of the commission’.
He requested the commission to close the right of recording Ijaz’s statement, so that further proceedings could be conducted accordingly in order to finalise the proceedings within time frame given by the Supreme Court.
Riaz seeks to be part of probe
Meanwhile, Opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly Raja Riaz Ahmad submitted another application to the judicial commission seeking permission to become a party in the Memogate probe.
While talking to the media, he demanded that a case of high treason be registered against Ijaz.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2012.