Haqqani urges SC to allow video testimony
ISLAMABAD: Husain Haqqani, the former ambassador to Washington, has challenged in the Supreme Court the March 18 rejection of his plea for recording of his testimony through a video link by the judicial commission probing the controversial memo, urging the apex court to allow him the facility on security grounds.
The court should pass an order allowing the commission to record his statement in a similar fashion and through similar facilities extended to Mansoor Ijaz, the main character in the memo controversy, who was accommodated by the commission on the plea of physical security, the application said, adding that risks to his life has also gone manifold.
The application was filed on Saturday by advocate on record Chaudhry Akhtar Ali on behalf of Mr Haqqani, although rights activist Asma Jehangir will appear before the court to plead his case.
“The petitioner seeks justice and is keen to depose before the commission so that the whole saga of the so-called memogate comes to a close for the peaceful existence of the petitioner and his family,” pleaded Mr Haqqani, who also submitted a fresh written statement before the memo commission claiming that American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, and the former director general of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, had failed to produce any tangible evidence against him regarding the controversial memo.
The fresh request made by Mr Haqqani seems to be reneging on his earlier assurance to the Supreme Court (SC) in which he had promised to return to Islamabad from the US on a four-day notice.
On Jan 30, the SC had lifted a Dec 1, 2011, ban by allowing him to leave the country to meet his family in the US. However, the permission was granted after Mr Haqqani, through his counsel, undertook to return to Pakistan any time on four days’ notice to join the proceedings, if and when required to do so by the commission.
Mr Haqqani alleged that Mr Ijaz had made false, malicious and dangerous aspersions against him, adding such aspersions had put his life at serious risk. “It is not a secret that the petitioner’s life will be at risk at the hands of the several intelligence agencies connected with Ijaz – as he admits close contacts with them,” Mr Haqqani stated in his application.
The commission has never been prohibited through the Dec-30 Supreme Court to insist on his physical presence, Haqqani said, adding: “the wild and absurd allegations” by Ijaz were only meant to exploit emotions and were incitements to violence against him, given the prevailing atmosphere in the country, best known to the court that sits on several human rights cases where people disappear or are targeted for murder or their bodies are recovered.
Meanwhile, in his written statement submitted to the memo commission on Saturday, Mr Haqqani said the former ISI chief had claimed to have “enough corroborative material” to prove his role in the controversial memo, but he was not shown any evidence in the meeting held on Nov 22 last year, in which his offer to resign as ambassador was accepted in the presence of President Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani, Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the then ISI chief .
“I was legitimately concerned that evidence against me might have been cooked up by Mr Ijaz and others who were supporting his version of events to discredit me and the elected civilian government that appointed me ambassador to the US”, he said.He offered the commission that he could provide the letters from commanders of Pakistan armed forces commending his efforts as the ambassador in securing various weapon systems and facilitating military relations with the US.
Supported by the Pakistan’s Washington embassy documents, Mr Haqqani has also rejected Mr Ijaz’s claim of his 45-minute meeting with President Zardari on May 5, 2009. He, however, said Mr Ijaz might have succeeded in getting his picture with President Zardari during his meeting with Pakistan- origin US nationals, but said he did not recall any such happening.
He also stated that Mr Ijaz, during his cross-examination, had admitted that he did not have any email, BlackBerry message or text messages carrying instructions from him to convey a message to the US government or to specifically convey the points contained in the memo.
Mr Haqqani denied that there was any threat of a military coup in Pakistan. after the May 2 action against Osama bin Laden. “No civilian leader expressed such concerns nor did I have any reason to fear the Pakistani military acting against the Constitution. I effectively defended the ISI and armed forces in the US, considering it was my duty at the time to defend all national institutions,” he said.