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Haqqani for withdrawal of Ijaz's right to depose

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Press Trust of India

Last Updated: January 23, 2012, 19:50 IST

Haqqani for withdrawal of Ijaz's right to depose

Husain Haqqani said Mansoor Ijaz should lose his right to testify on the memo issue if he failed to appear on Tuesday.

Islamabad: Former Pakistan's ambassador to US Husain Haqqani on Monday said that the right of Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz to depose before a judicial panel probing the memo scandal should be withdrawn if he failed to appear before the panel on Tuesday.

In an application filed with the three-judge commission appointed by the Supreme Court, Haqqani said Ijaz should lose his right to testify on the memo issue if he failed to make an appearance on Tuesday as he had been given adequate opportunities to testify.

Earlier in the day, Ijaz's lawyer Akram Sheikh told the media that his client had decided against travelling to Pakistan as the government had failed to address his concerns regarding his security.

Sheikh claimed a "well-orchestrated trap" had been laid to hold Ijaz indefinitely in Pakistan after his planned deposition before the commission.

Sheikh submitted an application outlining Ijaz's position to the judicial commission. The application said Ijaz had decided not to come to Pakistan as he had not received adequate assurances about his security.

Ijaz had earlier failed to make a scheduled appearance before the three-judge commission on January 16. The commission then asked him to appear before it on January 24.

In a related development, Attorney General Anwar-ul-Haq said the army had designated an officer to handle Ijaz's security along with civilian authorities.

In a statement released through his lawyer Sheikh, Ijaz said he was willing to testify before the judicial commission in London or Zurich. He further said he was willing to depose in the same two European cities before a Pakistani parliamentary panel that is also probing the memo issue.

Alternately, Ijaz suggested, the parliamentary panel could use the testimony he provides to the judicial commission. Mohammad Farogh Naseem, a leading constitutional lawyer, questioned the stand taken by Ijaz, saying he had failed to provide "sufficient cause" for his decision not to come to Pakistan.

While it was legally possible for the judicial commission to go abroad to question Ijaz, such a deposition would not allow for proper cross-examination, he told the media.

Noting that police had been deputed for Ijaz's security, he questioned the American businessman's demand that an army battalion should protect him in Pakistan.

"If the commission believes that Ijaz did not come to Pakistan despite being given adequate security, it may not go abroad to record his statement," he said.

Though deposition via a video link was allowed under Pakistani laws, the commission would have to consider whether this would cause prejudice to Husain Haqqani, Naseem said.

Haqqani was forced to resign as Pakistan's envoy to the US after Ijaz claimed he drafted and delivered a memo to the US military on Haqqani's instructions.

The alleged memo had sought US help to prevent a possible military coup in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May last year.
first published:January 23, 2012, 19:50 IST
last updated:January 23, 2012, 19:50 IST