ISLAMABAD: After the Supreme Court, hearing a petition from Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani’s plea for his testimony to be recorded via a video link, referred back to the Judicial Commission probing the memogate scandal to take a decision on the former diplomat’s appearance, the Commission ruled out a video link appearance.
Head of the commission, Balochistan Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, dismissing Haqqani’s application to record his statement from abroad through video link, said that, “it means that any criminal can ask the court to record his statement through video link by sitting abroad.”
“My client’s statement is important and I am not denying it but due to security threats and medical condition, I requested the commission to record his statement in the Pakistani Embassy in the US” Haqqani’s counsel Zahid Bukhari reasoned with the court.
The Commission also questioned Deputy Attorney General (DAG), Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, regarding what steps he was taking to ensure Haqqani’s presence in the country, “we directed you on the previous hearing date to ensure his presence, so what steps have you taken?” Justice Isa asked.
The DAG replied that he had not received any written request in this regard and that Haqqani had already submitted his undertaking before the SC, and will comply with the commission’s orders.
However, when the commission asked the DAG to put Haqqani’s name on the Exit Control List (ECL), Jahangiri refused.
Meanwhile Mansoor Ijaz’s counsel Akram Sheikh requested the court to finish Haqqani’s right of audience (right of representation), as he is continuously disobeying the court’s orders.
“Haqqani is continuously disobeying court orders despite giving undertaking to the apex court so his right of representing should be finished”. The commission though rejected his application.
The commission directed all the lawyers to start their arguments before adjourning the hearing till May, 3, 2012. It is expected that the commission will hear the case on a daily basis.
Threats on social media not credible to warrant video statement
Justice Qazi Faez Isa, chairing the judicial commission probing the Memogate case, hearing arguments on why Haqqani sought to testify remotely via a video link instead of appearing in person, as he had promised earlier, Bukhari said that his client was facing death threats on social media sites.
Upon hearing this argument, Justice Issa said that such threats social media did not constitute as a threat, as many people passed comments on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Detailing the threats, Bukhari referred to threatening messages received by Haqqani via Twitter on March 9, wherein the person called him a traitor and threatened to kill him.
The commission chairman also asked the counsel to identify which ‘agency’ was threatening.
Regarding security threats, Bukhari further argued that how could the government promise security to his client when the government had failed to ensure the safety of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer.
Bukhari also submitted an application, saying that doctors had advised Haqqani against travelling long distances.
Haqqani a ‘poor man’
In a bid to force the former Ambassador to return to Pakistan, the Judicial Commission had called for a list of the property owned by Haqqani to be presented. When the commission inquired about the list of properties on Thursday, Bukhari replied that his client only had Rs150,000 in National Bank of Pakistan’s (NBP) Aabpara Branch.
“My client has no property, he is a poor man” he added.
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