Haqqani asks SC to set aside memo commission report
ISLAMABAD: Former ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani has asked the Supreme Court to set aside the report of the memo commission to end his “persecution” and ensure that full justice is done. Haqqani also questioned the commission’s proceedings and repeated his assertion that he had nothing to do with the controversial memo in a detailed submission through his counsel, noted human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir.
“The constitution of the commission was misplaced under the law,” Haqqani’s petition says, adding that the “Supreme Court may constitute a commission to record evidence but in order to hold an inquiry, the law under the Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act 1956 authorises the federal government to hold judicial inquiries”.
Describing the creation of the commission as an “exceptional measure”, the former envoy said that its very creation had put him at a serious disadvantage and risk of denial of due process. Haqqani argued that “no formal accusation has so far been made” against him “but the commission appointed by the Supreme Court has virtually declared the petitioner guilty on flimsy and insufficient evidence”.
Haqqani’s petition said that the commission went beyond its mandate in that it worked as an investigating agency, a trial court and carried out a roving inquiry without any legal process in place.
“Due process has totally been denied to the petitioner, so much so that even the legal procedure was not made available to his legal counsels despite several requests. The commission presumed the petitioner guilty and expected him to clear his name against the evidence of one man and on a testimony that has several contradictions – in other words to prove his innocence rather than be presumed,” it pointed out.
Haqqani’s petition also said that the commission had “gone beyond the terms of reference and moved into inquiries that are not even remotely connected to the terms of reference and simply used to persecute the petitioner on responses which were not probed deeply”.
The detailed reply submitted by Asma Jahangir points out several shortcomings in the commission’s inquiries. According to the petition, “The commission concludes that a close relation between the petitioner (Haqqani) and witness Mansoor Ijaz existed. This conclusion is based on exchange of a few emails. There are several exchanges of emails with a large number of people especially journalists, diplomats and ambassadors. The petitioner has been in professions where gaining information is important and receives hundreds of emails but does not necessarily either respond to all of them or is in close relationship with email connections.”
It also points out that “the commission has totally and conveniently glossed over the fact brought out in the cross-examination of Mansoor Ijaz where he admits that ‘Haqqani has neither met my present nor former wife nor have I met Haqqani’s wife’. Then the witness admits that he met Haqqani no more than ‘a dozen times’ in the last 10 years, while both lived in the same country, and often were in the same city”.
Haqqani’s lawyer also challenged the commission for being selective in collecting evidence and showing little regard for another perspective. “The commission has concluded that Mansoor Ijaz is to be believed and found Ijaz ‘to be a credible witness’,” the petition says. “This despite several contradictions in the testimony of Ijaz and his open admission of being involved with several intelligence agencies of the world while being an ordinary citizen of the United States. He admits to his very controversial role in Sudan and Kashmir. The testimony of Yasin Malik was not only ignored by the commission but it has erroneously and without any evidence concluded that securing Malik’s reaction was a plan of the petitioner.”
The petition points out that “amongst several contradictions in the testimony of Ijaz one is particularly glaring, when he on the one hand claims that the petitioner has immense influence on the US administration and on the other claims that the petitioner needed a go-between to transmit a memo that Ijaz admits he himself drafted and sent to General James Jones. Ijaz also admits that he has no evidence of the petitioner’s asking him to write the memorandum on telephone except his own hand-written notes, the authenticity of which is dubious”.
The statement before the Supreme Court cites the relevant portions of the cross-examination to show that Ijaz, in fact, admitted to having no evidence of Haqqani asking him to write the memo except his own hand-written notes. According to the record of Ijaz’s cross-examination, he was asked, “Can you produce any document, email, SMS or BBM which would show that Haqqani had asked you to write the memorandum?” Ijaz’s reply was, “The only document which I can produce is exhibit W4-1 which was my hand written notes that I took down when Haqqani telephoned me.”
Haqqani, through his lawyer, also said that, “the commission has also conveniently glossed over the evidence of Ijaz where he categorically admits that he drafted and sent the memo. His assertions that it had the backing of a few other people outside the government should have encouraged the commission to at least probe further who those gentlemen or ladies were”.
According to Haqqani’s petition, the memo commission also ignored “the dangerous assertions made by the witness Ijaz in his testimony about Pakistan’s leadership and its armed forces” although “they strongly show the rash manner in which this witness makes accusations. The fickleness of the witness has also been ignored. He asserts that he did not trust the petitioner and yet so readily agreed to carry sensitive messages on behalf of the petitioner. The consistent manner in which he so recklessly castigated the ISI was radically changed with one meeting with the head of the ISI for a few hours. Does that not make the commission wonder how that happened and go further into probing the games played by Ijaz and the purpose behind them”?
“The motive discovered by the commission of sending the memorandum through Ijaz was that the petitioner wanted to head a non-existent National Security Council as the national security adviser (NSA),” the petition points out. “As no NSA existed in Pakistan nor contemplated, such a motive is a non-starter particularly in view of the commission’s conclusion that the petitioner acted on his own. Neither the US administration nor the petitioner could have appointed himself as the NSA.”