The judicial commission investigating the so-called ‘memogate’ scandal directed former ambassador to US Hussain Haqqani to respond to the evidence presented against him by March 15.
During Friday’s hearing, the commission directed both the government of Pakistan and Haqqani to submit a written response about the ownership of the BlackBerry telephone sets and their numbers.
Haqqani and the government have also been ordered to produce attested copies of telephone bills from May to November 2011. The three-member commission said their telephone’s service provider should send a PDF copy of the bill directly to the commission’s email address along with a hard copy.
Haqqani has also been asked to provide the PIN numbers for his BlackBerry set that was used during the time period in question.
Building pressure, the commission said they are not powerless and have other ways to confirm the BB PIN number of Hussain Haqqani. Justice Isa said the PIN number can be checked from Haqqani’s wife’s BB device, other family members or any official in the foreign office with whom Haqqani may have contacted frequently.
The former ambassador has also been told to ensure that he is available for cross-examination after March 15 once Haqqani’s counsel Zahid Bukhari and the attorney general of Pakistan finish cross-examining the main witness, Pakistani-American Mansoor Ijaz.
The commission told Bukhari that he must be available in either Islamabad or London after the said date and that no request for adjournment will be entertained.
During his cross-examination, Ijaz told the memo commission that former US national security adviser General James Johns, who allegedly delivered the memo to the then chief of US military Admiral General Mike Mullen, had persuaded him not to disclose the contents of the secret memo.
Ijaz was cross-examined by attorneys Mustafa Ramday and Salahuddin Mengal before the three-judge commission.
In response to a question from Mengal about whether Jones discussed the memo with President Asif Ali Zardari, Ijaz declined to answer and said: “I am not ready to answer this question.”
Ijaz was also asked why Mullen first denied the existence of the memo to which he said that after Mullen denied receiving the memo, Jones reminded him of the document and then Mullen retracted his previous statement.
Ijaz said that General Jones probably had an idea that the revelation of the memo will become a major scandal.
He also produced the emails exchanged between him and ISI chief General Ahmad Shuja Pasha before the commission.
When asked whether he was paid for revealing the memo, Ijaz replied in the negative. He also refused to answer a question about whether the president had prior knowledge about the May 2 Abbottabad raid.
He said that Haqqani should hand over his BlackBerry telephone sets for forensic testing and that he had contacted a US agency to validate his BBMs, but the company declined his request due to pressure from the US administration.
After the two attorneys concluded cross-examination, Justice Isa asked other parties if they wish to cross-examine Ijaz, but no one came forward. The commission will continue its proceedings from March 15 to March 18.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2012.