Memogate witness Mansoor Ijaz won't come to Pak
Islamabad: Amidst security concerns, controversial Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz’s counsel on Monday said that his client will not come to Pakistan. However, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik assured foolproof security to the businessman at the heart of the Memogate scandal.
Ijaz is currently in Dubai. He was scheduled to appear before the Pakistani judicial commission probing the Memogate scandal on January 24.
Ijaz’s counsel, Akram Sheikh, said that a trap has been laid and his client will be arrested upon his arrival. The counsel added that a reply has been sent to Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq regarding the security steps taken for Ijaz. He termed the measures "unsatisfactory" and told the authorities that his client has been constantly receiving threats.
Ijaz is willing to videotape his testimony in either London or Zurich and submit it to Pakistan's Supreme Court commission investigating the scandal, Sheikh added.
In the meantime, Malik said Ijaz has been assured of foolproof security. He also added that the help of the Pakistani Army could also be sought in case of any need.
However, the Pakistani interior minister did not rule out arresting Ijaz upon his arrival.
The Pakistani-American businessman has sparked a row in Pakistan by making public an alleged memo that sought US help to stave off a feared military coup in Pakistan after the killing of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden on May 02 last year.
A Supreme Court-appointed commission is probing the memo scandal. The panel has summoned Ijaz to appear before it on January 24.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani assured that Ijaz will be provided security, however adding billions of rupees could not be spent on it.
"Under the Constitution, providing security to Ijaz is the duty of the Interior Ministry as and when required the Rangers and Army can also be summoned," Gilani said. However, he was quoted as saying by Geo TV that it seemed like a viceroy was coming to Pakistan not Mansoor Ijaz and billions could not be spent on his security.
Gilani said the whole controversy had painted a negative image of Pakistan internationally.
He said the American businessman has "no credibility" and one should not worry too much about his claims.
Ijaz, who was issued visa by the Pakistani mission in London on Thursday, has declined to say when he would travel to Islamabad to testify before the panel.
He has alleged that the Pakistan government was trying to prevent him from testifying in Islamabad and blamed Interior Minister Rehman Malik for launching a smear campaign against him.
In fact, Ijaz’s counsel, Akram Sheikh, last week wrote letters to Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the Attorney General, hinting that he would advise his client not to enter Pakistan if the armed forces failed to give security.
Sheikh, in the letter, wanted information about the arrangements that have been made to ensure Ijaz is fully safe in Pakistan.
“Unless I receive a formal commitment from you that…, I will not be in a position to advise my client to travel to Pakistan to be before the commission on January 24 as his life will be under threat,” the letter said.