ISLAMABAD: The government's counsel informed the memo investigation commission on Monday that BlackBerry sets of former ambassador Husain Haqqani were missing from his residence and office in the US.
It has been alleged that the gadgets were used in drafting a secret memorandum addressed to the then chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.
The commission headed by Balochistan High Court (BHC) Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa resumed the proceedings in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) amid extraordinary security measures.
The courtroom was full of reporters and lawyers. The proceedings started in a rather tense atmosphere when the commission was informed that Mansoor Ijaz, the man at the centre of the controversy, sought adjournment till next week because he could not appear to record his statement and to present evidence because of certain apprehensions.
However, the day ended in a pleasant manner when the commission disposed of five applications related to the case with the consent of the parties.
Attorney General Justice (retd) Molvi Anwarul Haq presented a letter sent by Iffat Imran Gardezi, deputy head of mission at Pakistani embassy in Washington.
The letter sent on Jan 10 disclosed that the embassy's officials after searching the residence and former office of Haqqani had not found his BlackBerry sets at the places he had identified during the last hearing of the commission.
Haqqani had informed the commission on Jan 9 that both the sets had been left in his office because he had arrived in Pakistan in a hurry and the Supreme Court had restricted him from going abroad.
Haqqani's counsel Zahid Hussain Bukhari said it was possible that someone might have taken away the devices and he would inform the court after getting information from his client in this regard.
The lawyer informed the court about the email addresses and phone numbers of Mr Haqqani but said he had forgotten the personal identification numbers (PIN) of his phone sets. He raised objection over the absence of Mr Ijaz and said it was a shock for the nation which had been waiting for the statement of the foreign national who despite having got a date of proceedings of his own choice had stated that it was not a suitable time of his arrival because of institutional instability.
It appeared that he was not serious to appear before the commission and was enjoying the confrontation, he said.
Mohammad Akram Sheikh, the counsel for Mr Ijaz, tried to justify his absence on the grounds of a government-judiciary standoff and alleged that the executive was continuously defying the orders of the apex court.
He accused the government of threatening his client's family and business partners and said the court had an application in which Haqqani had demanded action against him because he was representing Mr Ijaz.
Mr Sheikh said his client was still willing to come to Pakistan even at the cost of his life and he was settling issues regarding his insurance policy and other related matters to ensure that his business partners would not face problems if he could not return to the United States.
He referred to a news report quoting the interior minister as having said that Ijaz could be tried under Article 6 of the Constitution for his alleged involvement in intrigues to topple the first government of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
The attorney general rejected the perception that a case would be registered against Mr Ijaz upon his arrival and reaffirmed the stance of the federal government that before taking any legal action for any breach of law during his visit the matter would be referred to the Supreme Court.
Regarding his safety during his visit, the attorney general said the defence secretary had passed on the contact number of Sheikh to the army unit commander who would be responsible for Ijaz's security.
Pakistan's embassy in Berne, Switzerland, had said that he would appear for an interview on Jan 16, he said.
He said Frederic Nesbit, Legal Director of Research in Motion (RIM), the serviceprovider of BlackBerry, had refused to provide data of the sets of Mr Ijaz and Mr Haqqani.
He said only users could forward their requests for retrieval of data but even then the RIM could not provide the records of SMS and emails of Google or Yahoo.
The commission asked Mr Haqqani to submit an affidavit mentioning the ownership of the devices, when he had used them the last time and where he had placed them.
It asked Advocate Sheikh to ensure the appearance of his client on Jan 24 when the proceedings would resume.
The commission dismissed an application filed by Khalid Javed through Advocate Raja Israr Abbasi seeking registration of a criminal case against Mr Ijaz.
It observed that the applicant, apolitical activist (of the Pakistan People's Party) had filed the application for personal publicity and to hinder the proceedings of the commission.
An application by Advocate Bukhari seeking action against Advocate Sheikh for linking him with threats Ijaz had allegedly received through email was disposed of after a clarification by Sheikh.
Disposing of another application by Bukhari for restricting Ijaz from leaving the country till the completion of the inquiry, the commission said it could not restrict him for an indefinite period but he would be summoned again if the need arose.
Regarding an application for clarification of the procedure under which the commission was conducting the inquiry, Justice Isa observed that it was operating in accordance with directives of the Supreme Court but the parties were at liberty to assist it at an appropriate juncture in accordance with the laws.