Beyond the memo affair

Published: April 1, 2012
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The writer is a former consulting editor at The Friday Times, and can be found on Twitter @RazaRumi

The writer is a former consulting editor at The Friday Times, and can be found on Twitter @RazaRumi

The memogate inquiry shows how political cases are wasting the precious time of the courts and creating one embarrassment after another for the Pakistani state. If media reports are to be believed, the military and the ISI have already backtracked on their earlier zeal to get this issue further explored. The architect of the memo controversy, General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, has retired and one hopes better sense will now prevail. At the same time, the principal character, Mansoor Ijaz, has been exposed as a vacillating, and an unreliable ‘witness’ during the proceedings. Yet, our Supreme Court wants to proceed with the case and the inquiry commission has been given additional time to investigate the unsigned memo.

Mr Ijaz had earlier claimed how Husain Haqqani wanted to become the president of Pakistan with the help of the US. Nothing could be more bizarre than this wild claim, which only indicates the mild psychosis that Mr Ijaz might be suffering from. In fact, by dragging the Indian Kashmiri leader and scores of other parties, Mr Ijaz has indulged in the art of making an allegation and then refuting it the very next day. It is clear, even to Haqqani’s detractors, that his nemesis has little or no credibility.

Haqqani’s request to give his testimony via video link from London has been turned down by the inquiry commission. It has directed him to appear in person as per the terms agreed with the Court. It is important to note that this facility was provided to Mr Ijaz. Thanks to zealous media personnel and their shenanigans (joined these days by the planted social media ‘activists’), Haqqani has already been branded as a ‘traitor’. Given the number of jihadi and ‘patriotic’ lunatics who operate with impunity, Mr Haqqani faces a clear danger in coming to Pakistan at least, until the ‘facts’ of the memo case are established. So far, facts have been a casualty in the entire process.

Earlier, Mr Haqqani was debarred by the Supreme Court from leaving the country; and an extraordinary premium was placed on what the army and intelligence chiefs had said. Haqqani’s lawyer was called a tantrum-throwing lady (forgetting that she herself has faced death threats for her brave activism) and untenable binaries were created between the ‘legal’ and ‘political’ sides of the case. Suffice it to say, the memo case is largely political and every party has had an axe to grind through it — from the media to the opposition leader.

The lawyers’ movement had rekindled the hope that our justice system would be reformed to provide quicker and cheaper relief to millions of petitioners. Thus far, this remains an unrealised goal. Even the lawyers who mobilised as a political force have done nothing to improve how the bars and the profession work. As a mob, the lawyers continue to show how they are completely unregulated and get away with committing violence against the media, police, hapless subordinate judges, not to mention offering prayers for Osama bin Laden.

Citizens have a right to ask why three serving chief justices of high courts are investing huge amounts of their precious time in handling the bizarre claims (and counter-claims) made by Mr Ijaz, when they should be attending to their core mandates of managing the high courts and thousands of subordinate courts. There are roughly 1.2 million cases pending in Pakistani courts and the cost of litigation is soaring due to a virtually unaccountable legal profession and corruption in lower courts. The Supreme Court has time and again reminded us that it is representing the people’s will and is answerable to the people only. Perhaps, nothing is as pressing for the ‘people’ than the denial of justice they are facing.

The Urdu media and internet forums are full of edicts against Mr Haqqani and sections of the establishment feel betrayed by his critical book on the Pakistan military. The least we can do is not to expose a man of his intellect to the rogue elements in the country. For the record, I have never met Mr Haqqani and hold no brief for his past adventures with the intelligence agencies. All I know is that he deserves a fair deal by a country he has tried to serve and defend in difficult times when everyone and his aunt have been wanting to ‘punish’ Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 2nd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • White Russian
    Apr 2, 2012 - 4:52AM

    Fair enough!

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  • Khalid Aziz Chaudhary
    Apr 2, 2012 - 5:03AM

    Nice one-Raza

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  • Mirza
    Apr 2, 2012 - 8:16AM

    Nice, pragmatic and balanced Op Ed, fit to be included in ET. I think we are expecting a lot from the PCO judges. The history of SC from Justice Munir to the hanging of ZAB to endorsing each and every military takeover is dubious at best. They had a chance to cleanse their image with the ZAB review, Asghar Khan and Balochistan cases. However, despite their populist outbursts not a single order has been passed.
    In the riches country of the world and the oldest democracy there cannot be more than 9 judges of the SC. While in Pakistan there are benches twice that size. We have too many judges doing a whole lot of nothing. In the US no SC wants public exposure and most people don’t know their names let read their populist political and religious lectures in the media.
    We were hoping that the judiciary finally would do the right thing and take on the usurpers and deep state and stop it from its games. However, the protectors of OBL have been free and trying HH for treason, who has shamelessly defended them after May 2.

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  • Apr 2, 2012 - 8:52AM

    Indeed very candid and realistic analysis. The Memo issue has been a source of disrepute for us as a nation and even greater for all those actors involved in this affair. How could a simple piece of paper bearing no signature and supposedly passed on through clandestine channel be the authentic position of the government? Is such a piece of paper any value for the legal proceeding? It was anticipated that the commission comprising the honorable judges will through it in the dust bin after the preliminary hearing. But unfortunately the commission has further ridiculed the nation as well as the wisdom of the judiciary.

    It seems that there is an absolute lack of intellect and wisdom in our high ups and their motivation is more to settle their personal vendetta and satisfy the egos than to run the country. The nation has a right to ask why the tax payers money has been misused to follow an inconsequential matter?

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  • "Ghairatmand" Pakistani a.k.a. "Nanggdharangg"
    Apr 2, 2012 - 8:57AM

    Excellent piece !!!

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  • notablindjiyala
    Apr 2, 2012 - 9:09AM

    I guess we should be quite clear who is wasting time. Loss of blackberries (both of them), refusal to pursue the case by AJ and now refusal of HH again to present himself before the court as he promised earlier. I guess the main reason Raza, commission HAS REJECTED HH appeal is because he is a Pakistani citizen. MI was given clear death threats, live on televeion, by YOUR PARTY’s Interior Minister. Get the facts. Dont distort them with words.
    And as I believe you and the people like you, the blackberry phones were picked up by INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES. Missing bb’s must be your focus from now on.
    Good Luck

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  • Apr 2, 2012 - 9:25AM

    Haqqani the president! why you are surprised?? Ask yourself in 2008, “Zardari the President?”

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  • Apr 2, 2012 - 10:41AM

    Memogate served one very useful purpose: it showed the world exactly who is the boss in Pakistan. That’s because an ambassador’s function is to represent his government; the moment he loses its confidence he is removed.

    The Pakistani military wanted Mr. Haqqani out and he went. So in Pakistan it really is the military who have the final say and elected officials and their appointees are mere functionaries to be removed at their will. No wonder so many legislators don’t do a serious job of serving anything but their own venality, or that the SC is the only institution to try to check the generals and the ISI.

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  • mateen
    Apr 2, 2012 - 12:19PM

    How long this insanity will prevail?

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  • Josh Shahryar
    Apr 2, 2012 - 12:34PM

    Thanks Raza.

    Sobering analysis of the situation.

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  • Arifq
    Apr 2, 2012 - 1:44PM

    We all know there is only one boss in Pakistan and all roads lead to Rawalpindi. Time and time again they have shown the local puppets and international players who is the real master when it comes to setting policy matters. Mr. Haqqani served a purpose but was never accepted as a “reliable” state sponsor, thus when his role became a deterrence he was removed. Had the local political setup read the tea leaves earlier, then there was no need for this hullaballoo. Unfortunately for us Pakistanis even the intelligence agencies suffer from a lack of credible intelligence and have fallen back in times thus the embarrassing circus of hiring a dubious character such as Mansoor Ijaz. Then again, do they care? Not really, job done doesn’t matter whether we Pakistanis are now being ridiculed by the international media. Let’s just wait for the next episode of spy versus spy.

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  • V L Rao
    Apr 2, 2012 - 2:41PM

    Not being from Pakistan, my guess cannot even be called educated, but I would speculate that the learned Chief Justice of Pakistan and his Supreme Court are making ready to take on the Army at an appropriate time. By taking seriously the charges against Husain Haqqani, the CJ has nullified in advance any allegations of prejudice that may be made against him and the Court when that happens

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  • Concerned Citizen
    Apr 2, 2012 - 3:43PM

    Unfortunately staging a coup is no crime in Pakistan, however, warning about it is a capital one.

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  • anticorruption
    Apr 2, 2012 - 5:46PM

    Personally, I do agree that the memo gate affair should now be closed and we should move on, but the kind of logic partizan supporters of the PPP churn out is quite bizarre.

    The memo case is a rather strange one and Mansoor Ijaz is not a very credible person, but what is hard to understand is why HH won’t produce his blackberries. That suggests that there must be something to hide. Moreover, while the writer is eager to point out Mansoor Ijaz’s lack of credibility, are Zardari and Haqqani, the principle lobbyist and negociator for the NRO, credible individuals?

    Lastly, it seems that the argument about what the courts should focus on changes depending on what one’s political preferences are. The writer is upset about the memo case while there are those who are glad that the courts are investigating it. Had there been an equally ‘flimzy’ case involving the generals, I am sure the writer would have been praising the courts while apologists of the military would have been crying about the ‘real duty of the courts to provide justice to the ordinary citizen.’ I also wonder why the writer fails to note that the courts are simultaneously also taking up many other important cases ranging from the rental power scam and the PM contempt case to Mehran gate and that some of these interventions have saved the national exchequer billions of rupees.

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  • mrk
    Apr 2, 2012 - 6:03PM

    Certainly Mr Haqqani and Mr Zardari are very credible?

    One way or another, the case needs to be investigated – perhaps mr haqqani is innoscent but it doesn’t look like it. He has now admitted before the judicial commission that he did speak to Ijaz on May 9 and 10 via phone (because Ijaz has furnished the phone records from the company). Mr Haqqani had clearly stated several times in TV interviews during Nov and Dec that he hasn’t spoken to Ijaz in years.

    The BBM, according to Haqqani, is lost and hence he says no BBM communication took place and he can’t find his BB.

    Now whether we care about the case or not and whether everything should be allowed in this land or not is a different issue. Perhaps we should not pursue this case as we should not pursue any case against the powerful etc. But looking at the facts mentioned above (they can easily be verified), it’s more likely than not that Haqqani is guilty.

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  • maryam
    Apr 2, 2012 - 6:07PM

    Hussain haqqani is not the only one who has been a target of a media trial,he just happens to be fortunate enough to have been able to point it out and get attention.certain members of our media run malicious and unjustified campaigns and get away with it all the time.case in point being the case of ex-chairman steel mill.false accusations lead to the sacking of the ex-chairman and even after three years no inquiry has been made regarding those accusations.

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  • Mirza
    Apr 2, 2012 - 7:04PM

    Most learned people fail to understand that Zardari or HH never spitted venom against Pakistan in public forum like Mansoor Ijaz, who has been on the forefront of anti-Pakistan and anti-army campaign.
    In addition, HH has not obligation to offer his personal phone record to the courts. Nobody can be force to or would testify against himself. In fact in most countries it is unlawful to force somebody to testify against himself. In everybody’s phone records there are personal data that includes friends and enemies both and of private nature and it should not be brought out in the open. The govt has burden of proof and not HH, he is innocent till the govt/prosecutors (in this case judges) prove otherwise.

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