Memo scandal: Malik to depose before Pak panel?



Islamabad/Srinagar: Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik has petitioned a Pakistani panel probing the memo scandal that he should be given an opportunity to refute claims by a controversial American businessman about his contact with a former senior RAW official.

Malik's application to be made a party in the memo issue was filed yesterday by his Pakistani wife, Mishal Malik.

Mansoor Ijaz triggered a major crisis in political and diplomatic circles in Pakistan when he made public a mysterious memo that had sought US help to stave off a feared coup in the country after the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2.

Malik approached the Supreme Court-appointed judicial commission after the Pakistani-American Ijaz claimed during his cross-examination that he had arranged a meeting between Malik and CD Sahay, a former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

In Srinagar, Malik's counsel Zaffar Ahmad Shah in a letter to Pakistan Chief Justice Iftkhar M Chaudhury, said Malik should be given an opportunity to depose before the commission for clearing his position.

"A request was sent to the Pakistan Commission that Malik would like to depose before it," Shah said.

"... He (Malik) would like to make free, fair and truthful statement before the commission, which will go a long way in finding answers to the questions forming subject of the reference," Shah said in the letter.

Mishal said in the application that had levelled false allegations against her husband who is the leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front.

These "baseless" allegations have caused her a lot of hurt and damaged Malik's reputation, she said.

She asked the commission to provide Malik an opportunity to explain his position.

Malik was currently in Srinagar and could appear before the panel next month, she said.

Mishal said her husband had "relevant information that will help solve the memo controversy".

Ijaz's lawyer then suggested the commission should delete the section of testimony related to Malik.

He contended that the acceptance of Malik's application would open a Pandora's Box because the commission would have to summon the former RAW chief and a journalist of a foreign newspaper who had reported on the same issue.

Zahid Bukhari, the counsel for Pakistan's former envoy to the US, Husain Haqqani, asked the commission to accept Malik's plea as it would have a bearing on Ijaz's credibility.

"Since Mr Malik claims having some evidence against Ijaz, he will be useful for the inquiry," Bukhari said.

The commission put off a decision on Malik's application.

The panel asked Mishal to consult her husband and ascertain whether he really wanted to become a party in the case.

In November last year, Malik had dismissed Ijaz's claim that he had arranged a meeting between the JKLF leader and CD Sahay in November 2000. Sahay subsequently became chief of RAW.

Malik told the media last year that Ijaz had called him to Taj Palace Hotel in Delhi in November 2000 to apologise for an earlier altercation at a conference.

On arriving in Ijaz's hotel room, Malik said he found an unidentified man who had asked him to meet then RAW chief AS Dulat.

However, Malik said he had paid no attention to this man.

The Pakistani commission is conducted proceedings at the Islamabad High Court complex while Ijaz has been appearing via a video link from London.

Bukhari has completed his cross-examination of Ijaz's testimony regarding the origin, authenticity and purpose of the memo.

During his cross-examination, Ijaz had claimed he had contacts with intelligence agencies of over 20 countries, including RAW.

He further claimed he had arranged a meeting between Malik and RAW official CD Sahay.

During the cross-examination, Ijaz repeated his unsubstantiated claims that President Asif Ali Zardari and former envoy Haqqani wanted to subjugate the Pakistan Army and ISI.

He claimed Haqqani was working with the US intelligence and orchestrated efforts to let a large number of American intelligence operatives enter Pakistan.

Ijaz accused Zardari of giving the go-ahead to the US president for the raid that killed bin Laden without consulting the Pakistan Army.

PTI