ISLAMABAD: Prominent lawyer Asma Jehangir has categorically stated that she has ‘no confidence’ in the judicial commission constituted by the Supreme Court to investigate the memogate scandal and refused to represent former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani in the case.
“I quit as Haqqani’s lawyer but my client will pursue his case,” Ms Jehangir told Dawn on Sunday. “This is the court’s order and we have to follow it but I told (Haqqani) to engage some other lawyer.”
The development is likely to trigger a new debate in political and judicial circles.
The judicial commission will hold its first meeting on Monday in the Islamabad High Court building. It has sent notices to seven people, including ISI Director General Maj Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Husain Haqqani, Asma Jehangir and Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz to appear before it.
Mansoor Ijaz claims to have delivered a memo to US military chief Gen Mike Mullen in May last year at the behest of Mr Haqqani and the government of Pakistan to avert a military coup.
Ms Jehangir said she had asked her client (Haqqani) to find another lawyer to plead his case in the Supreme Court and appear before the judicial commission.
A nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry formed a commission on Friday headed by Balochistan High Court’s Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa. Chief justices of the high courts of Islamabad and Sindh are members of the commission.
Ms Jehangir accused the apex court judges of acting as acolytes of the establishment. “If nine judges of the Supreme Court can be (under their influence), then I am sorry to say I cannot have any expectations from the high court judges,” she said.
“Should we close our eyes? Should we allow ourselves to be fooled? I have told my client he can appear before the commission if he wants to, and he will go. I have no confidence at all (in the commission).”
The lawyer said: “She does not have any trust in the commission constituted by the SC and, therefore, I believe that nothing will be gained from it.”
Some legal experts are of the opinion that Asma Jehangir’s decision would have serious implications and may be construed as contempt of court. But Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmood said: “When judgments become public document they can be criticised but now it is up to the Supreme Court that what decision it takes on the statement and decision of Asma Jehangir.”
Ms Jehangir has described the SC decision to admit the memo petitions as a ‘black chapter’ in the judiciary’s history. She said the judiciary was restored after an unprecedented struggle with the hope of getting justice, but unfortunately the dream was not fulfilled.
She confirmed reports that Mr Haqqani had sought refuge in the Prime Minister’s House because of fears he could be picked up by the ISI if he lived anywhere else.
“Yes, he has a fear that he can be picked up and tortured by the ISI to get a statement which suits the spy agency.”
Commenting on Asma Jehangir’s statement, Pakistan Muslim League-N spokesman Mushahid Ullah Khan said the court did not decide case in accordance with the will of lawyers.
“She herself had opted to defend Hussain Haqqani in the memo case,” he said.
Former federal minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said: “Asma has her own ideology which is known to everyone.”