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Mansoor Ijaz given last chance to appear by Feb 9

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ISLAMABAD: The judicial commission investigating the high-profile memogate scandal gave Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz last chance to appear before it by February 9. During the fourth meeting of the commission, its chairman, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, made it clear that the panel will not travel abroad to record Ijaz’s statement. The commission also disposed off Ijaz’s petition which called for recording his statements outside Pakistan, saying that if he was not satisfied with the security arrangements made for him in the country, the commission’s secretary can record his statement in the presence of immigration and security inside the plane which brings him to Pakistan. Ijaz was initially asked to appear before the commission on January 16 but the hearing was postponed until January 24 on his request. His counsel, Akram Sheikh, told the commission that his client was not coming to Pakistan due to security threats made by Interior Minister Rehman Malik. He argued that his client wanted to bring with him all evidence he had regarding the memo, but the Interior Ministry had threatened to put his name on the Exit Control List (ECL). His client, he added, did not trust Rehman Malik and anyone deputed by him for his security. Appearing on summons, the interior minister argued before the commission that he had neither directed any authority to place Ijaz’s name on the ECL nor did he intend to do so. In his remarks, Justice Isa said courts are sanctuaries and even criminals have the right to approach them. He said the commission will ensure safe arrival and return of each and every witness who wanted to depose before it. He observed that the commission’s work was being obstructed and asked why Ijaz’s arrival was being hindered. Addressing the interior minister, Justice Isa said, “Your statements have created this disturbance.” While assuring the commission that Ijaz’s name will not be put on the ECL, Malik said he would be provided full security on his arrival in Pakistan. Akram Sheikh read out an email from his client, which stated that he will not come to Pakistan until he was assured security by army personnel instead of Interior Ministry’s security cover. Sheikh said his client had expressed apprehensions that his arrival in Pakistan could trigger a clash between the country’s institutions. Earlier, Zahid Hussain Bokhari, counsel of Husain Haqqani, said Ijaz has insulted the judicial commission by refusing to come to Pakistan to testify. He called for him to be held in contempt of the commission for failing to appear before it several times. He said despite being guaranteed security as per his demands, he had still not travelled to the country, which shows he possessed nothing substantial to prove his point. The commission expressed dissatisfaction with the affidavit submitted by Haqqani, saying it lacked clarity on all the four points that the commission sought replies to. It said the former ambassador to the US did not clearly mention when he last used his two missing BlackBerry phones and to whom they belonged.

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Saleem Shaikhhttp://saleemshaikh.blogspot.com/
The writer is a development journalist. He writes on water, sanitation, environment, climate change, agriculture, women development, human rights, education, health, development budgets and economy.
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