Memogate: Govt drafting Zardari`s response

As Asif Ali Zardari recuperates in a Dubai hospital, Pakistan government`s legal team is drafting a res onse to be submitted on his behalf.

Updated: Dec 12, 2011, 15:37 PM IST

Islamabad: As President Asif Ali Zardari
recuperates in a Dubai hospital, Pakistan government`s legal
team is drafting a response to be submitted on his behalf to
the Supreme Court in the `memogate` scandal case.

With Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani making it clear
on Sunday that Zardari will not return to Pakistan for at
least another two weeks, the President will not be in the
country when the apex court hears the case demanding a probe
into the scandal on December 19.

While admitting several petitions seeking a probe into
the matter, including one filed by main opposition PML-N chief
Nawaz Sharif, the apex court had on December 1 sought
responses in 15 days from the President, army chief Gen Ashfaq
Parvez Kayani, ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Pakistan`s
former envoy to the US, Husain Haqqani and Pakistani-American
businessman Mansoor Ijaz who made the memo public.

In the memo sent to the US military, the Pakistani
civilian leadership purportedly sought its help in averting a
possible coup in the wake of the covert American raid that
killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad in May.

"The President will submit his reply before the court
even if he does not return from Dubai," presidential spokesman
Farhatullah Babar told the media.

He said a "final decision" on the President`s return
would be made after consulting the doctors treating him.

The government`s legal team is preparing the President`s
reply to the Supreme Court.

The reply will not be a lengthy one and it will try to
prove Zardari`s innocence, contending that he has nothing to
do with the memo allegedly presented to the US military chief
through Mansoor Ijaz, the newspaper quoted its sources as
saying.

A nine-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar
Chaudhry is hearing the petitions related to the memogate
controversy.

Senior leaders of the ruling Pakistan People`s Party have
alleged that the apex court took action in the matter without
giving the government an opportunity to present its views.

The government is in "no hurry" to file the President`s
reply in the Supreme Court because it was currently engaged in
a case related to the request to review the death sentence
awarded to former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, said former Law
Minister Babar Awan, a close aide of Zardari.

The Supreme Court also ordered the constitution of a
commission to investigate the memogate scandal.

However, the retired police officer who was asked by the
court to head the commission has turned down the request.
The court is expected to name the new head of the panel
at the next hearing on December 19.

The apex court has barred former envoy Husain Haqqani
from leaving Pakistan till the probe on the memogate scandal
is completed.

The secret memo had also committed Pakistan government to
wide-ranging changes in its national security set-up,
including the removal of military officials believed to have
links to militants.

PTI