Haqqani was behind memo, Ijaz tells Pak commission

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - 22:56

Islamabad: American businessman Mansoor Ijaz
on Wednesday stuck to his claim before a Pakistani judicial
commission that he drafted and delivered a memo seeking US
help to stave off a possible military coup in Pakistan on the
instructions of former envoy Husain Haqqani.

Ijaz made the claim while deposing via video link from
London before Pakistan Supreme Court appointed commission
investigating the mysterious memo that triggered a tense
stand-off between the civilian government and the powerful
military last year.

While recording his statement, Ijaz repeated many of the
claims he has made over the past few months regarding the
memo.

He provided bills from his mobile phone service provider
and notes of his alleged discussions with Haqqani to back his
claims.

Ijaz claimed Haqqani had told him that if the US helped
remove Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, then
persons amenable to the American administration would be
included in the new national security set-up that would be
created by President Asif Ali Zardari.

He further claimed Haqqani had told him that Pakistan
would help capture top terrorists like Afghan Taliban chief
Mullah Mohammad Omar and al-Qaeda leader Aiman Al-Zawahiri.

The controversial businessman claimed his contacts with
Haqqani began on May 3 last year - a day after a day Osama bin
Laden was killed during a raid by US Special Forces in
Abbottabad.

Ijaz claimed Haqqani had said the Pakistan Army was
pressuring Zardari and wanted to depose the civilian
government.

Ijaz said that Haqqani often spoke in haste and appeared
nervous during their phone conversations.

Ijaz added that Haqqani had devised various code words for
use in their messages, including "Ispahani" for the Americans,
"friends" for Pakistanis and "boss" for Zardari.

He gave the commission the PINs for the BlackBerry phones
used by himself and Haqqani and handed over some evidence to
the secretary of the commission, who is in London to supervise
the deposition.

Ijaz also provided details of his contacts with Pakistani
leaders, including ISI officials.

He said he had met then ISI chief Gen Ehsan-ul-Haq in
Brussels in 2003 and former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in
London in 2005.

He said he had last met Zardari in 2009.

Ijaz also said he met current ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja
Pasha in a London hotel last year.

He acknowledged that he currently had few contacts with
Pakistani leaders.

Ijaz came to the Pakistan High Commission in London to
record his statement via videoconferencing while the
three-judge commission conducted the proceedings from
Islamabad.

Ijaz, the main accuser in the memo scandal, had earlier
refused to travel to Pakistan to record his testimony due to
security concerns.

In Islamabad, Attorney General Anwar-ul-Haq told the
commission it would be necessary to conduct forensic tests on
the BlackBerry messages that Ijaz had produced to support his
claims.

Haq said the commission`s secretary, who was in London,
was not an expert on electronic devices and could not verify
the authenticity of the BlackBerry messages.

Haq further said Research In Motion, the Canadian service
provider for BlackBerry phones, had refused to provide data of
purported conversations between Ijaz and Haqqani.

Ijaz said RIM had told him that it did not preserve data
of communications on its servers for more than three months.

Zahid Bukhari, the counsel for Haqqani, objected to Ijaz`s
behaviour during his deposition and said he was constantly
"playing" with his BlackBerry phone.

Bukhari said objections would be raised later about the
way Ijaz`s statement was being recorded.

"This is not how testimonies are recorded," he said.
Earlier in the day, Ijaz drove to the Pakistan High
Commission in a cab.

He told reporters before going inside that he would tell
the truth and expose the reality about the memo.

After taking a vow to tell the truth, Ijaz informed the
commission in response to a question that he could not speak
Urdu.

A team of lawyers representing PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif,
who had petitioned the apex court over the memo, is in London
to cross-examine Ijaz.

Haqqani`s lawyer could not travel to Britain as he was
issued a visa late yesterday.

Reports said Ijaz`s deposition was expected to continue
tomorrow.
Two large plasma screens were installed in a room at the
Islamabad High Court complex for the proceedings of the
judicial commission.

Haqqani was forced to resign as Pakistan`s envoy to the US
after Ijaz made public the alleged memo in October last year.

Ijaz has repeatedly claimed he drafted and delivered the
memo on Haqqani`s instructions.

The government and Haqqani have dismissed Ijaz`s claims.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had recently criticised
the handling of the memo issue by the army and ISI chiefs.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - 22:56

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