Memo commission asks govt to ensure Haqqani’s presence on 12th
ISLAMABAD: The commission investigating the so-called memo scandal directed the federal government on Friday to ensure the presence of former ambassador Husain Haqqani at its next proceedings in Islamabad on April 12.
The ministries of interior and foreign affairs should get Mr Haqqani attend the proceedings on Thursday, the commission, headed by Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, said.
It ordered that notices be issued to Mr Haqqani and served on his residence and workplace through the Pakistan embassy in Washington and called for submission of a compliance report to the commission’s secretary before the next hearing. The notice will also be sent to him through courier service.
The commission asked the former ambassador to send a consent letter to Research in Motion, the service provider of BlackBerry, for waiving his privacy rights in 24 hours. His counsel Zahid Hussain Bokhari is required to send a draft letter to his client through email.
The commission asked the director general of Foreign Office’s Americas desk to provide details of the discretionary fund allocated to Mr Haqqani between April and December 2011 after the counsel for American businessman Manssor Ijaz, the main character of the memo scandal, alleged that the former ambassador had used the fund to cover up the memo controversy even after his resignation.
Sohail Khan, director general of the south and north Americas desk, submitted the confidential correspondence of Mr Haqqani with Islamabad to the commission during in-camera proceedings. Deputy Attorney General Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri requested the commission to examine the documents in chamber because their sensitive nature.
The commission did not place on its record the documents relating to Pakistan-US relations and briefing to Mr Haqqani before he assumed the office of ambassador to the US. Sohail Khan informed the commission that in May last year Mr Haqqani had not obtained prior permission of the head of chancellery before leaving for London when the memo was allegedly being drafted. However, he said, Mr Haqqani later obtained permission from the ministry of foreign affairs.
S.M. Zafar, the counsel of ISI’s former director general Ahmed Shuja Pasha, appeared as amicus curiae to assist the commission on the issue of repeated absence of Mr Haqqani.
He suggested that before taking adverse actions against Mr Haqqani it would be appropriate to try to procure his attendance through the interior ministry. The ministry, he said, could bring him through the Interpol or Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). When the commission asked about sending interrogatories to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen and former US national security adviser Gen James L.
Jones, Mr Zafar said it should send notices to them and if they didn’t respond the material already available with the commission could be used for inference.
Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq informed the commission that the interior ministry could only serve notices on Mr Haqqani through the Interpol, but could not ensure his presence in Islamabad.
When the commission reminded him that he had also consented to the undertaking given by Mr Haqqani in the Supreme Court and did not raise any objection to his application for leaving Pakistan on the promise that he would appear before the commission on four days’ notice, the attorney general said he did not promise to ensure his presence and the commission should not treat him as Mr Haqqani’s guarantor.
The commission, he added, could apply all available options to ensure his presence.
Justice Isa said the AG should not have issued a no-objection certificate on Mr Haqqani’s plea and would have told the court that he could not take any responsibility in that regard. “This is a question mark on the government’s credibility that a former ambassador is not complying with the court orders and reluctant to appear before the commission,” he added.
Mr Haqqani, meanwhile, sent another application to the commission requesting it to provide a written order in which it had directed him to waive privacy rights of his BlackBerry handsets. “I need the order in writing so that my lawyer in the US can advise me on the compliance and draft an appropriate letter,” he said in the application.
Mr Haqqani’s counsel said his client was not disobeying the commission’s orders and only exercising his legal rights. He opposed the commission’s decision to seek details of the discretionary fund of Mr Haqqani and said it had no connection with the investigation into authenticity, origin and purpose of the memorandum.
Talking to reporters, Advocate Bokhari said the commission had issued the orders on verbal request of Mr Ijaz’s counsel and such directions would hinder Mr Haqqani’s return to Pakistan.