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Ijaz fails to appear before Pakistan commission on memo scandal

February 09, 2012 14:18 IST

American businessman Mansoor Ijaz on Thursday failed to avail a final opportunity to depose before a Pakistani judicial commission investigating the memo scandal, with his lawyer saying that he was prepared to record his statement at the Pakistani mission in London.

The Supreme Court-appointed commission observed that Ijaz had made a U-turn on the issue of coming to Pakistan to depose despite all sorts of assurances given by the government about his security.

During a hearing in January, the commission had given Ijaz a final opportunity to depose before it on Thursday about the mysterious memo that had sought United States' help to stave off a feared military coup in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May last year.

The three-judge commission issued the direction after Ijaz failed to appear before the panel on two occasions.

In messages sent through his lawyer Akram Sheikh, Ijaz had cited security concerns as his reason for not coming to Pakistan.

During today's hearing, Sheikh told the panel that Ijaz does not want to come to Pakistan but is ready to provide evidence about the memo and record his statement outside the country.

After consulting Ijaz during a recess in the hearing, Sheikh informed the commission that Ijaz was prepared to record his statement at the Pakistan high commission in

Sheikh further contended that the commission does not have the right to summon Ijaz, who is a US national and had voluntarily offered to appear before the panel.

Sheikh contended that Pakistani laws will be applicable to Ijaz once he arrived in the country, and that a parliamentary commission which is also investigating the memo scandal could ask for him to be held.

The commission observed that Ijaz had not come to Pakistan despite all sorts of assurances given to him by the government.

The panel further observed there was no guarantee that he would record his statement abroad.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik appeared before the commission in February and assured it that Ijaz would be provided complete security. But Ijaz has claimed that he has "no confidence" in Malik.

The Supreme Court recently gave the commission two more months to finalise its report on the memo scandal, which had triggered a tense stand-off between the civilian government and the military.

Pakistan's former envoy to the US Husain Haqqani was forced to resign after Ijaz made public the alleged memo last year.

Ijaz claimed he had drafted and delivered the memo to the US military on Haqqani's instructions, a charge denied by the government.

Rezaul H Laskar In Islamabad
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