Commission misses second deadline to complete memo probe
ISLAMABAD: The memo commission missed its second deadline given by the Supreme Court to complete investigation into the controversy as former ambassador Husain Haqqani did not appear before it on Monday for cross-examination.
The commission, headed by Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, regretted that despite notices issued to Mr Haqqani on March 1 and 18, he did not appear for recording his statement and cross-examination in Islamabad. It gave Mr Haqqani a last opportunity and warned that the commission could attach his property and issue arrest warrant to ensure his attendance or initiate contempt of court proceedings against him if he failed to comply with the court orders next time.
The commission announced that the next hearing would be fixed after the Supreme Court extended the deadline.
The court had in December last year constituted the commission to investigate the authenticity, origin and purpose of the memorandum sent to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen. It initially gave the commission 30 days to conclude the proceedings and submit a report, but extended the deadline till 31 March.
The commission summoned foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, former secretary Salman Bashir and senior officials of the foreign ministry at the next hearing, along with secrete correspondence of the former ambassador with Islamabad during the period between April and November last year.
It observed that Mr Haqqani had given an undertaking to the Supreme Court on January 31 that he would appear before the commission on four days notice. “Husain Haqqani had sufficient time to approach the Supreme Court after the commission issued notice to him. The commission is working under a tight schedule and unless strong exceptions are not made out it is not fair to seek adjournment,” it said.
The commission turned down a request made by Mr Haqqani’s counsel Zahid Hussain Bokhari to record his client’s statement through a video link as was done in the case of US businessman Mansoor Ijaz, the main character in the memo conspiracy.
Deputy Attorney General Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri told the commission that Mr Haqqani did not convey any security concern to him either verbally or in writing. “The government is capable of providing security to Mr Haqqani,” he said.
Advocate Bokhari said his client had certain threats from intelligence agencies. He did not disclose the names of the agencies, but said Mr Haqqani faced threat to his life in Pakistan.
He requested the commission to close the right of recording statement of Mr Haqqani and draw inference from the available record. The commission should await the Supreme Court judgment before passing any order against his client. He requested the commission to continue with the proceedings because his client could joint them at a later stage.
Salahuddin Mengal, a PML-N lawyer, told the commission that it might initiate contempt proceedings against Mr Haqqani because he did not comply with its orders and filed a petition in the Supreme Court and the commission for seeking ‘unreasonable’ relief by delaying the matter.
Akram Sheikh, counsel for Mansoor Ijaz, also requested the commission to close the right of recording the statement of Mr Haqqani. He requested for cross-examination of Kashmiri leader Mohammad Yaseen Malik, who appeared before the commission to rebut the claim of Mr Ijaz that he had arranged a meeting in 2000 between the Kashmiri leader and C.D. Sahay, former chief of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
Mr Malik, who is chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, informed the commission that Mansoor Ijaz had fraudulently introduced him to a suspicious man when he was in a hotel to attend an international seminar in Delhi in 2000.
He said Mr Ijaz had introduced himself as an envoy of former US president Bill Clinton. He said he had a minor clash with Mr Ijaz when he criticised Muslims in his speech. “Later, he invited me to his room because he wanted to make an apology for his criticism of Muslims,” Mr Malik said.
“In his room, Mr Ijaz introduced me to his Indian friend who suggested me to meet A.S. Dullat, the then RAW chief, but I categorically refused the offer and left the room immediately.”
According to Mr Malik, several Indian officials tried to persuade him when he became acting chairman of the All Pakistan Hurriyat Conference in 1999, but he always denied them.
“The statement of Mr Ijaz has put my life at risk as I am living in a conflict zone. Over the last few years at least three JKLF leaders have been killed after reports of their alleged meetings with Indian officials and foreigners appeared in the media,” Mr Malik said.