THE memo commission report is finally out, and it holds Hussain Haqqani responsible for the infamous letter that asked America to rescue Pakistani from a coup. But the language of the findings, and the fact that they comment on matters well beyond the commission’s mandate, have failed to rescue this saga from the atmosphere of political controversy that has dogged it from the very beginning. The report goes beyond establishing “the origin, purpose and authenticity” of the memo. Even if Mr Haqqani is guilty, the commission was not asked to pass judgment on his conduct — a task that belongs to the Supreme Court bench hearing the case — which it effectively did by declaring his actions “acts of disloyalty to Pakistan”. The report also opines on what is and is not acceptable for a Pakistani ambassador to do in dealings with a foreign government, and comments on the suitabi-lity of appointing Mr Haqqani in the first place given what it sees as his weak links to Pakistan. While he wasn’t exactly cooperative with the investigation, these findings will only bolster allegations of bias in the way the probe was conducted, including concessions made to accommodate Mansoor Ijaz’s numerous demands about how and where he wanted to appear before the commission.
The problem with all of this is that it throws the fairness of the procedure into doubt in the midst of a case already fraught with politics, and raises questions about how it will colour the hearings to follow. It is obvious that the memo should not have been written; it asked a foreign country to intervene in Pakistan’s affairs, and particularly in matters having to do with the country’s security. But the amount of attention that was paid to the case by opposition politicians and the military had already prompted questions about the real motives behind the uproar. For that reason, it was extremely important that the investigation was, and was seen to be, unbiased. Unfortunately the commission’s conclusions focus on painting a damning personal portrait, which only makes this issue messier rather than helping to cleanly wind it up.