Arguments completed in memo probe commission

ISLAMABAD: Arguments before the commission investigating the so-called memo scandal for the past four months were concluded on Friday and the commission which is yet to decide matters relating to forensic test of evidence adjourned its proceedings till Saturday.

Soon after the parties concluded their arguments, Zahid Hussain Bokhari, the counsel for former ambassador Husain Haqqani, told reporters that his contract with his client had ended and, therefore, he would not appear in further proceedings of the commission.

In his concluding remarks, advocate Bokhari said that American businessman Mansoor Ijaz wrote an article in the Financial Times in October 2011 when he was sure that the Research in Motion (RIM), the service provider to the BlackBerry company, had deleted the record of exchange of messages.

Mr Ijaz was quick to waive his privacy rights because he knew that RIM had deleted the record. Mr Haqqani, he said, was not aware of this, but still he also waived his privacy rights.

According to the data provided by the businessman, Advocate Bokhari said, Mr Ijaz had made nine calls to his client in May 2011 while Mr Haqqani made two calls to him.

He pointed out that the claim of Mr Ijaz of having taken dictation from Mr Haqqani for drafting the memorandum in a 16-minute telephone call was false because it was not possible to note down the memo consisting of 900 words in this time. The wide range of topic, covering events from 1971 to 2012 and beyond, the Pak-US relations, nuclear assets, political and military relations, and cooperation in the fields of law enforcement, economy and other fields could not be summarised in less than 20 minutes, he added.

He accused Mr Ijaz of sending emails to Mr Haqqani from fake addresses like USA007 and some emails from the address of his son because he wanted Mr Haqqani to delete emails without reading them.

It was his plan to trap Mr Haqqani because he saved emails in order to use them at a proper time, he added.

The businessman, he said, was a critic of the Pakistan army, nuclear programme, Inter Services Intelligence and energy sectors’ initiatives and in the so-called memo controversy, he tried to destabilise the country on the directions of some foreign intelligence agencies.

Deputy Attorney General Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri supported the arguments of Advocate Bokhari. He said Advocate Sheikh had claimed that his client was a simple businessman although he was engaged in talks in Sudan, Kashmir and other parts of world and had links with about 24 intelligence agencies of the world.He said Mr Ijaz was loyal only to the US and had nothing to do with Pakistan’s interests. Defending the absence of Mr Haqqani, DAG Jahangiri said the former ambassador, due to his ailment, could not attended the proceedings but was ready to be cross-examined via a video link from abroad.

Justice Faez Isa, the head of the commission, remarked that instead of repeating the arguments of Mr Bokhari, the DAG should concentrate on other aspects and should come up with something different.

He said it was not a good sign for the government that its ambassador was showing reluctance to appear in the court and the government had failed to persuade him to record his testimony.

The businessman did not speak against the government of Pakistan and President Asif Ali Zardari, but he spoke in their favour, Justice Isa said and asked the DAG: “Do you think he was wrong?” The DAG did not respond.

Advocate Akram Sheikh, the counsel for Mr Ijaz, told the court that the commission should not extend any favour to Mr Haqqani because he had defied its orders and, despite several summons, did not appear to record his statement.

On the other hand, Mr Haqqani criticised the Supreme Court and the memo commission in the media and even accused the judiciary of delivering biased verdicts, he added.

Referring the Murphy law, evidence act and principles of adverse presumption, Advocate Sheikh said that a fugitive from any inquiry or proceedings could not be entitled to court’s indulgence.

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