Memogate: Ijaz seeks time to appear before court

Mansoor Ijaz`s counsel said Pakistani-American businessman was ready to come but he and his family have been receiving threats.

Zeenews Bureau

Islamabad: The central figure of the infamous Memogate scandal, Mansoor Ijaz, on Monday sought time till January 25 to appear before the three-judge Pakistan judicial commission.

Shortly after the Supreme Court-appointed panel began its third sitting this
morning, Ijaz`s lawyer Akram Sheikh said his client was ready to come to Pakistan but he and his family have been receiving threats. Ijaz wanted to get insurance done for the safety of himself and his family, said Sheikh. The lawyer added that Ijaz has made an appointment at the Pakistani embassy in Switzerland today to get a visa to travel to the country.

In an application filed through his counsel Akram Sheikh, the Pakistani-American businessman earlier this month informed the judicial commission he would be available from January 16 to 20 for testifying.

The members of the commission asked Sheikh to clarify once and for all whether Ijaz intended to come to Pakistan.

A three-member bench headed by Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa resumed the hearing of Memogate case today.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Nawaz Sharif, former ambassador to US Husain Haqqani and Ijaz’s counsel Akram Shaikh were present at the hearing.

In a related development, the lawyer of Pakistan`s former envoy to the US Husain Haqqani today contended that Ijaz would not come to Pakistan and was setting all sorts of unnecessary conditions for his visit.

Ijaz claims to have delivered a memo to the then US military chief General Mike Mullen in May last year at the behest of Haqqani and the Pakistani government to avert a likely military coup, kicking in a scandal that generated much heat in Pakistan.

Haqqani was forced to resign after Ijaz’s alleged disclosure.

The envoy`s lawyer, Zahid Bokhari, told reporters that Ijaz was setting frivolous conditions for coming to Pakistan even though the commission had already ordered authorities to deploy Army soldiers to protect him when he arrived.

"We want him to be given all possible security so that he can come here to testify before the commission. We will welcome him but we will welcome him with reservations," Bokhari said.

Confusion has surrounded Ijaz`s plans to travel to Pakistan over the past few days. Geo News channel recently quoted sources close to Ijaz as saying that he would not come to Pakistan as he had been receiving threats.

Haqqani`s lawyer had said yesterday that if Ijaz arrived in Pakistan, Haqqani would request the commission to ask Ijaz to remain in the country till the probe into the memo issue is completed.

Ijaz had earlier sought protection, saying he had received "serious threats" as he was coming to Pakistan to provide evidence "that may not be liked by persons in the federal government".

The businessman has claimed that he drafted and delivered the memo to the former US military chief on the instructions of Haqqani.

The government has dismissed Ijaz`s claims and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has described the alleged memo as a "piece of paper".

The government challenged the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to look into the memo issue but the court formed the three-judge commission to investigate the scandal.

The memo probe commission held its first meeting at the Islamabad High Court building on January 02.

(With PTI inputs)