Pakistan judicial commission to probe memo scandal

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has constituted a three-member judicial commission to probe the issue.

Islamabad: Pakistan government will file a
petition seeking a review of the Supreme Court`s decision to
form a commission to probe the memo scandal.

Former Law Minister Babar Awan, who is the Vice President
of the ruling Pakistan People`s Party, told the media that the
government will approach the apex court for a review of its
order issued yesterday to form a three-member judicial panel.

"We can file the review petition because it is the
requirement of the Constitution," Awan told the media.
Other officials also insisted that the memo at the centre
of the controversy was a "pack of lies" and the government
could file a review petition.

The apex court yesterday ruled that several petitions
seeking a probe into the memo scandal were maintainable and
asked the commission to complete its inquiry in four weeks.

Analysts noted that the court had ensured that all
members and support staff of the commission were drawn from
the judiciary and said this was a move aimed at insulating the
panel from possible interference by the government.

The three members of the commission are the Chief
Justices of the High Courts of Islamabad, Balochistan and
Sindh. A district and sessions judge of Islamabad was
nominated the Secretary of the commission.

The PPP-led government was thrown into a crisis when
Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz first revealed
details of the memo in an article written in the Financial
Times on October 10.

The memo sought the US help to prevent a feared military
takeover in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden in

The government had challenged the apex court`s
jurisdiction to hear the petitions on the memo, saying a
Parliamentary panel was already investigating the matter.
The chiefs of the Army and ISI urged the court to order
an independent inquiry.

Ijaz claimed he had drafted and delivered the memo to the
US military on the instructions of Husain Haqqani, Pakistan`s
former envoy to the US. Haqqani was subsequently asked to
resign by the government.

PPP leaders and rights activists have criticised the
Supreme Court`s ruling, saying it went against various
fundamental rights and could swing the civil-military equation
in favour of the powerful Army.

Leading rights activist Asma Jahangir, who is Haqqani`s
lawyer, described the apex court`s judgement as disappointing.
She pointed out that if Haqqani was aggrieved by
something that the commission did, he could not go to anyone
to redress his grievances.

"His due process has been taken away," she said, adding
the order affected issues related to civil-military relations
"in which sadly the courts have now more or less shifted their
weight (to) the (security) establishment."

The powerful military had used the government`s opponents
to take the matter to court, Jahangir said.

"When there is going to be a tussle between what the
military says and what the civilian government says, which are
two different things, then there has to be a showdown and
where will that take us?" she questioned.

Babar Awan criticised opposition PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif
for filing a petition on the memo issue in the apex court and
said: "Today is a day of mourning."

He said by going to the court, Sharif had proved that he
had no confidence in Parliament.

The presidency did not react to the court`s verdict and
presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said: "I cannot
comment on the Supreme Court`s decision because I have not
seen it so far."

Supreme Court Bar Association President Yasin Azad said
there should not be a confrontation between state institutions
due to the memogate scandal.


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