Haqqani, Ijaz come face to face
ISLAMABAD: Erstwhile phone buddies and currently legal opponents came face to face on Thursday for the first time since the infamous memo scandal broke out last year.
American businessman Mansoor Ijaz and Pakistan’s former ambassador to Washington, Husain Haqqani, came together under one roof at the Pakistan High Commission in London to record their testimonies in front of the judicial commission via a video link.
The three-member commission directed Mr Haqqani’s counsel, Zahid Hussain Bukhari, to conclude cross-examination of Mr Ijaz in four days.
The commission, on more than one occasions, advised the counsel to raise relevant questions only. It accused Mr Bukhari of continuously ridiculing the commission.
At one point, the commission said: “Why you are advising us how to do our job.” At another, the commission remarked that whenever it tried to correct the counsel, he took offence.
The commission directed Mr Ijaz to bring copies of his passport on Friday as Advocate Bukhari claimed that due to pending litigation he could not travel to the US.
After examining the transcript of a conversation, sent by Mr Ijaz, between pilots of the helicopters used in the operation against Osama bin Laden and Pakistani air traffic controllers, the commission observed that the document was not authentic. It was not the transcript of the incident but only unverified information passed on by some unknown person to another unknown person, commission added.
It expressed dissatisfaction over the reply by Mr Haqqani to evidence produced by Mr Ijaz and directed him to either admit or deny each of the BlackBerry messages (BBM) and the email allegedly sent to him by Mr Ijaz.
Advocate Bukhari raised a number of questions during the first day of his cross-examination of Mr Ijaz. He asked him about the profession of his father, his skills to write articles on nuclear issues, his relations with intelligence agencies and his role in arranging a meeting between a Kashmiri leader and an Indian intelligence official.
Mr Ijaz said he had arranged the meeting between Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik and C.D. Sahay, a former deputy chief (who later became chief) of the Indian secret service, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). He claimed that he had once tried to “bring peace to Sudan” to protect the interests of the Sudanese as well as the United States.
Mr Ijaz said his father was a nuclear physicist who had left Pakistan in 1966 and permanently settled in the US. He visited Pakistan during the 1970s as part of his assignment with the NGO “atom for peace”.
Mr Ijaz said he had written an article on nuclear proliferation in which he accused Pakistani nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan of stealing the nuclear blueprint on the basis of his confession made during the Musharraf regime in 2004.
Although he admitted that he had been in contact with 24 intelligence agencies of different countries, he did not disclose their names.
Mr Ijaz told the commission that Interior Minister Rehman Malik had threatened to arrest him through the Interpol and warned that if he tried to visit Pakistan his name would be placed on the exit control list (ECL).
He also answered the questions of Advocate Bukhari about his bank loans, litigation and settlements with financial institutions. The volley of questions not only provoked Mr Ijaz but also annoyed the commission.
“I am trying to prove that Mr Ijaz is an agent of secret services and with their help tried to destabilise governments in different countries,” Mr Bukhari said.
He also threatened to stop cross-examining Mr Ijaz when the commission did not allow him to ask some irrelevant questions.
During the cross-examination, Mr Haqqani joined his counsel at Pakistani High Commission in London. He told the commission that despite efforts he could not get data of his phone from the telephone company. Mr Haqqani said he did not remember the PIN number of his BlackBerry handset because it was changed when he got another set.
Surprisingly, he got an unexpected support from Mr Ijaz, who said it was a difficult process to retrieve data and lost PIN number.